Brian Mulroney has always liked cash. Tidy, untraceable, convenient cash. As far as I know, it didn’t start with Karlheinz Schreiber; in fact, I don’t know when it started. But soon after he was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada on September and moved to the official residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, a trusted confidant in his office began arranging packages of walking-around money for Mulroney’s wife, Mila.

Fred Doucet had been a close friend of Mulroney’s since their days together at university in Nova Scotia, and joined the new prime minister as chief of staff. He made arrangements for senior members of the household staff – often the chef, Francois Martin, who also acted as household manager – to pick up envelopes of cash for Mrs. Mulroney, usually in amounts of between eight to twelve thousand dollars. This happened every week or two.

Martin told me, in interviews I had with him in 1993 as I worked on my book,
On The Take: Crime, Corruption and Greed in the Mulroney Years (published in 1994), that Mila Mulroney often asked him to do banking for her and he would take envelopes of cash, thousands of dollars in cash, and he would deposit it for her at the Bank of Montreal on Wellington Street.

“Cash came in like it was falling from the sky,” he told me.

By the end of Mulroney’s first term in office, he said, the system changed. Doucet left for a new patronage job and the cash moved to a new refrigerator-sized safe in the basement of 24 Sussex Drive. It sat near Martin’s desk in his basement office. The prime minister’s executive assistant, Rick Morgan, would deliver and retrieve the cash from the safe, Martin told me.

Twice, when he was working at his desk, he saw Mulroney himself remove cash from the safe.

Now, during all the years that he was the prime minister, Mulroney denied taking money from the Conservative Party to help him finance his lifestyle. When party president Gerry St. Germaine told reporters on July 18, 1991 that Mulroney did receive money from the party – in response to a question from a reporter who had been tipped off that Mulroney had filed income tax returns of $300,000, far more than he made as prime minister – he was forced to recant a few hours later, saying the party didn’t supplement the income of the leader.

But when I asked the party’s chief fundraiser, David Angus, in his Montreal office in the spring of 1994, where the cash was coming from that Doucet gave Mila Mulroney and where the cash in the basement safe came from, Angus told me it came from the party and it was for personal expenses.

Angus said he sat down with the Mulroneys every year to decide what expenses they might be facing for the next year and then set aside a portion of the funds raised by the party to cover these. “We tried to even out the cash flow,” he told me, “so they would have monies available to them…on a regular basis.”

When I asked Angus why the money arrived in bundles of cash he said it was more convenient that way.

Bonnie Brownlee, Mila Mulroney’s former assistant, admitted to me that she often picked up the cash and that the the couple’s “financial things” would often be handled by people like Marjory LeBreton, another Mulroney confidante who is now a Conservative senator.

NEXT: STEPPING DOWN TO PRIVATE LIFE