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norman spector

Perusing my morning read, I come across a tough editorial on the Oliphant report into Brian Mulroney's dealings with Karlheinz Schreiber. And this second Globe editorial comes on the heels of the opposition parties in Ottawa having taken up the fight, and with similar opinions being expressed editorially across the land.

With one exception: La Presse has yet to comment on the report; nor has the paper expressed a view on the re-payment by Mr. Mulroney of the $2.1-million in legal fees he received from Canadian taxpayers.

Some may see this silence as proof of the two solitudes, but Le Devoir carries an editorial today on the Oliphant report. As to the Gazette, what can I say about Aislin (below) that already hasn't been said?

Others may attribute the silence of La Presse to a greater tolerance of political corruption in Quebec, but the paper has been very strong lately in attacking the Charest government; and last year, it did excellent work on corruption at the municipal level.

Still others may see this silence as being the result of the ownership of the paper: it is common knowledge that Mr. Mulroney and the Desmarais family are on very good terms. Notably, the papers published by Pierre Peladeau's Quebecor - a company that Mr. Mulroney himself chairs - have not taken up the cudgels for re-payment of the legal fees either.

I doubt that we are seeing the results of any direct censorship of La Presse journalists, but it must be said that the self-restraint appears to be at a remarkable level.

Over the years, Mr. Mulroney and his associates have made considerable efforts in schmoozing and cultivating the Quebec chattering class. What's also at play is a feeling in Quebec that this whole issue has been driven by Toronto, and is pay-back for the free trade agreement.

Whatever the reason, the silence of La Presse - a paper that did not report the cash payments to Mr. Mulroney after William Kaplan broke the story in the Globe in 2003 - is most strange.

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