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Mulroney Says He Has Been Honest In Tuna Scandal

September 27, 1985

OTTAWA (AP) _ Prime Minister Brian Mulroney offered Thursday to resign his seat in Parliament if any member can prove he has not been truthful about his role in a tainted tuna case or the resignation of the former communications minister.

″On each and every one of these matters I have provided honorable members with complete and full and honest answers,″ Mulroney told the Commons. He insisted that although his aides knew about the tuna shipment in July, he only learned about it last week.

John Fraser, the fisheries minister, resigned after being rebuked by Mulroney for allowing the distribution of almost 1 million cans of tuna that inspectors had said was unfit for human consumption.

″I have indicated that if any member of this House ... has anything at variance with what I’ve just said, let him put his seat on the line and I will mine,″ Mulroney said.

Jerry Lampert, national director of the Conservative party, said earlier in an interview with Canadian Press that Mulroney’s office knew a few months ago that former communications minister Marcel Masse was under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for alleged overspending in his 1984 election campaign. Wasse resigned Wednesday.

Mulroney told the Commons repeatedly that he first learned a minister was under investigation Tuesday night and was told Wednesday morning that Masse was the subject of the investigation.

″I am aware of the allegation or the statement alleged to have been made by Mr. Lampert,″ he said, adding that ″I am aware of no one in my senior staff who had been so advised by Mr. Lampert.″

Lampert told Canadian Press he was advised by Elections Canada, the government body in charge of Canada’s elections, a few months ago that Masse was under investigation - and that he told senior Mulroney aides. He declined to identify them.

Lampert said four other Conservative members of Parliament - none of whom are ministers - were also under investigation. Elections Canada said four other members of Parliament, presumably from other parties, are being investigated as well but did not identify them.

Liberal Leader John Turner said the handling of the Masse investigation demonstrates ″sheer incompetence″ in the prime minister’s office and warned Mulroney that, ″it won’t do in this House to say he didn’t know because his senior staff knew and should have told him.″

New Democratic Party Leader Ed Broadbent, rebuffed in his proposal to send ″this whole messy affair″ to a parliamentary committee to find out who is telling the truth, said the staff neglected to inform Mulroney both of the tuna problem and the Masse investigation should be fired.

Mulroney responded that if any staff members have not fulfilled their responsibilities, ″I would dismiss them with absolute alacrity.″ But he added: ″there is no evidence at all to prove that any staff member did anything wrong, illegal or improper.″

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