May 15, 2004: The Voice interviews Grewal about Rachel Marsden
From http://www.voiceonline.com/voice/050611/headline4.php, which republished an earlier interview:
GREWAL'S PAST CONTROVERSIES - TWO
Rachel Marsden controversy: "I have done an excellent job and she has done an excellent job"
By RATTAN MALL
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This interview was carried in our May 15, 2004 issue.)
Indeed, how excellent a job Surrey Central M.P. Gurmant Grewal did in hiring a person like Rachel Marsden defies logic, as far as I am concerned - and I will leave it to The VOICE readers to decide for themselves after reading the interview with Grewal carried below.
Marsden has shocked British Columbians by being involved in two stalking and harassment cases - the most notorious being that involving the Simon Fraser University swimming coach Liam Donnelly.
That poor guy lost his job amidst brutal negative publicity. Fortunately, he got back his job and reputation when he produced proof that Marsden had stalked him and sent emails and gifts to him.
Just when almost every British Columbian had forgotten about that horrible and terrifying incident - because it could happen to any respectable male - Marsden was suddenly back in the news last year when it was alleged that she was facing harassment charges involving former radio personality Michael Morgan. It has been alleged that Morgan received unwanted emails and phone calls from Marsden in October-November 2002, after a year-long sexual relationship between the two ended.
Against this background, Grewal claimed he had done his own research on Marsden and decided she was just the woman he needed for his Surrey office for certain jobs. So he hired her last December - and suddenly her work was over, just when The Vancouver Sun's Peter O'Neil called him about Marsden last week.
Quite a coincidence, eh!
The Province followed with a story on Sunday and then The Vancouver Sun did another piece on Monday.
When I hit Google search with "Rachel Marsden," I came across the webpage: http://www.jerseygop.com/RepublicanBabes14.html with a photo of Marsden that I am sure Grewal would have come across in his research.
And the site talked up Marsden as "a regular political columnist for PunditMag.com" whose writing had reportedly appeared in a slew of publications in Canada and the U.S. and made her out to be an outstanding student and journalist.
I suggest you also do the same to see what I mean.
Anyway, here is the text of the full interview with Grewal:
VOICE: Did you know her background when you hired her?
Grewal: Yes, I did.
VOICE: If you knew about her background, don't you think it was bad judgment to hire a person with her kind of background?
Grewal: No, not at all. When she was a teenager - I investigated her before I hired her; not only that, I also talked to her lawyer as well - what happened was that when she was a student at SFU, she was a member of the SFU swimming team and she alleges that the swim coach raped her.
VOICE: Yes, but he proved it otherwise.
Grewal: Yes, he proved it. He proved it because this lady didn't have a good lawyer or any money to hire a lawyer.
VOICE: So you think she was innocent and that guy was wrong?
Grewal: No, I don't say that is innocent or not. But what happened was that even if the guy was proven innocent, that doesn't mean…you know when you have an expensive lawyer - and the university spent lots of money (for the guy) - and she was a student and didn't have any money to hire a lawyer.
VOICE: But he has got emails, I mean he had proof of emails.
Grewal: Yeah, but what happened was that…maybe something is there, but she's not proven guilty herself either.
VOICE: Okay, but what was the need of changing her name?
Grewal: Okay, I will come to the name, but let me quickly update something else. She had the coach and some other people. They had some sort of vendetta against her and they came after her in the second case. Then another person who was her boyfriend who was getting her email and other stuff, they were sharing information, they broke up. And when they broke up, then this case went to the court, which case is still in the court. Okay. She has not been convicted. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So based on that, she should not be unfairly treated.
On her name, many people use a different name, particularly those who are broadcasters on radio or TV. She has been a broadcaster. She has been using that name I don't know when or where. In my office, she has for all documentation purpose used her real name. Only we used to call her Elle, because that was her short name - from Rachel to Elle. She never used Henderson in my office.
(Gurmant then went on to mention the name of an Indo-Canadian worker in his office who also uses a nickname).
So similarly there are many people who use different names.
So after I investigated, then I hired her on a short-term contract.
VOICE: And this was in December?
Grewal: Yeah, in December. I hired her on a short-term contract, which I renewed and she had selected job. She was not full-time. She was having a selected job, what she will do, what she will not do in my office. Her responsibility was designated to particular issues, particular contents in my office. And she had limited access to files in my office. Okay? So with that I put the safeguard in place and I didn't have any complaints from her working. No one ever complained about her behaviour or anything in my office…and she has done a job more than excellent on some of the issues, which I had given her. I don't have any problems with her working…
VOICE: So did she apply for the job of a…?
Grewal: (interrupting me) Yes, she applied for the job. I interviewed her. I gave her a test and then I found after about her background about which she told me everything. Then I put her on hold until I completed my little investigation.
VOICE: But your party says that they objected to…
Grewal: (interrupting me) Yeah, they knew that I was going to hire her. They said that as long as you know her background, this is your decision.
VOICE: But in the (Vancouver) Sun the person clearly says that they were against it and they advised you against it, according to Jim Armour. The exact quote is: "This individual was hired against the express wishes of both the party and the leader's office." Nothing can be stronger than that!
Grewal: Yeah, that's okay. I mean I was told that this lady has some questionable past and I said I am aware of it. So I went ahead.
VOICE: Okay, so don't you think this will lead to conflict between you and the leader because she has written a whole lot of…?
Grewal: (interrupting me) I don't think so, because the leader has nothing to do with it. She was working in a constituency office.
VOICE: But she has written articles against Harper. You know she has written some really bad stuff against Harper which was quoted in the (Vancouver) Sun. This is on her site. Like she said Harper "has all the charisma and inspirational capacity of a mortician, all the originality of a pair of Calvin Klein knockoffs - and all the ability to maintain due course of a drunken sailor in a windstorm."
Grewal: Yeah, but she had written that article before the leadership (contest).
VOICE: This was in February.
Grewal: Yeah, before the leadership (contest), if you see that. In the same Vancouver Sun article it is written it was before the leadership (contest) and…
VOICE: But you were supporting Harper at that time.
Grewal: Oh yeah, I do, but I don't control people's democratic ability. Even I could have an employee working in my office who might be voting Liberal, because it is a prerogative and I should not restrict people's democratic right. If she's a writer and she has something to say about anyone, so I should not, you know freedom of expression, I should not snub it because person is working in my office.
VOICE: So you don't think this will have a fallout as far as your party leadership goes or as your party goes?
Grewal: Oh, not at all. My leader is having full confidence in me. I have worked very good as a Member of Parliament. My constituents know that, my colleagues know that and my leader knows that.
VOICE: Is there anything else you want to say on this, Gurmant?
Grewal: I would simply say that I don't regret (her) working in my office and she has done an excellent job. Let people think that if she was a daughter of someone - those people who are accusing her - (that she was a) sister or daughter of someone who was badly treated by someone and she's not found guilty - and in Canada, you are innocent until proven guilty - and what should the society do to this individual? Should the society completely abandon her? No one should give her a job and then she should be let go back on the street? She had no criminal record. If I had asked her 'please provide me police clearance,' her police clearance would be as clean as anyone else's. So I believe I have practiced enough diligence. I believe that I have stood on principle and I have given her selected job, therefore, which was researching on issues. And she's very good on researching on issues or writing about something and that job she has done excellent. She has done some part of the job from her own home and some using my facilities. And I put the safeguards in place and I believe that I am not apologetic to anyone. I have done an excellent job and she has done an excellent job.
VOICE: So, in other words, I can say you have no regret at all?
Grewal: Not at all! Not at all!
(After a few minutes, Grewal phoned back to add the following:)
You know there are more than half a million public servants in Canada. You think that other people did not have a brush-up with law and order? If they do, they continue to work. Even there are people who have been charged in the past and found guilty, still they have been working with public services. In my judgment, I think that as a Member of Parliament, if I hire someone and then after she starts working in my office full-time, then she has a brush-up with the law outside somewhere and you think that person will cease working in the office right away, as soon as they have problems? You know, a Member of Parliament is holding a responsible position. I think I am very cautious about that. In case she was convicted, then the decision would be different.
(Editor's note: In our October 16, 2004 edition, we reported that Marsden was given a conditional discharge with a one-year probation that required her to stay away from her former lover, former radio personality Michael Morgan, and keep out of trouble.
The judge said that the 29-year-old former SFU student - who was also involved in a sexual harassment imbroglio with SFU swim coach Liam Donnelly (each accused the other of it, but neither side proved it) - was "immature in dealing with personal relationships" and could not accept being rejected. Marsden wouldn't have a criminal record.)
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