Thursday, May 19, 2005

May 19 2005: Multiple Reports: PM says No Offfer Of Appointment was Made

Prime Minister Martin tells the House of Commons that Grewal was not offered any appointment to influence his vote on the budget amendment that is now just hours away. "No such offers were made," Martin says. "Offers were solicited and offers were turned down."That same day, Sudesh Kalia, a Liberal supporter who calls himself a friend of both Grewal and Dosanjh, appears to back up the government in at least one key point - he says Grewal phoned him the previous Sunday. Kalia said Grewal used him to set up a meeting with Dosanjh. Kalia says Grewal definitely made the first approach.
Later that day, the government survives a confidence motion on a budget amendment by one vote, after the speaker votes with the Liberals. Grewal and his wife vote with the Conservatives.
ยป CBC STORY: Go-between says Tory MP approached Liberals

Jobs-for-votes charges fly: Tory MPs say Liberals sought deals; gov't says it was the other way around

Edmonton Journal
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Page: A1 / FRONT
Section: News
Byline: Allan Woods, Anne Dawson and Grant Robertson
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: CanWest News Service; Calgary Herald

OTTAWA - A war of words broke out ahead of a crucial confidence vote tonight, with a B.C. Conservative MP accusing the prime minister's closest adviser of trying to lure him and his wife away from their party, and producing a dramatic audiotape of closed-door negotiations as proof.

But Chief of Staff Tim Murphy and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said it was Tory Gurmant Grewal who approached them asking that he and his wife, fellow Tory MP Nina Grewal, be given plum patronage appointments for crossing the floor and joining the Liberals.

"In exchange, I was given an understanding that I would be rewarded in some fashion," Grewal said late Wednesday night.

The Liberals say Grewal, a Conservative MP since 1997, wanted a cabinet post and a Senate appointment for his wife in exchange for their help in propping up the government through today's non-confidence vote on the budget.

Murphy disputed that any offer was made and said only that conversations were taking place.

"He indicated he would cross the floor to support the government. I told him that it would be better to abstain on (Thursday's) vote," Murphy said in a statement.

The Tories distributed copies of the tape Grewal made during his meeting with Murphy Wednesday. Shortly after, Dosanjh presented himself to the media to explain what happened.

He said it all started when he was approached by a mutual friend of his and Grewal's Saturday named Sudesh Kalia, and it was Kalia who actually formally proposed the deal.

"I'm actually offended that Mr. Grewal would go to the lengths of approaching us, making totally inappropriate demands," despite being rebuffed several times, Dosanjh said.

On the tape, Murphy is heard insisting that whatever deal is struck, the truth must be told.

"It's a bad idea to have any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade," says Murphy on the tape. "If anybody asks you was there a deal, you say no. You want that to be the truth. That's what I want: for the truth to be told."

The audiotape also fingers Immigration Minister Joe Volpe and alludes to the stunning defection of Tory turncoat Belinda Stronach, who announced Tuesday morning she would leave the Conservative party to sit in Prime Minister Paul Martin's cabinet as human resources minister.

Dosanjh said Grewal pushed himself on Murphy, showing photographs of him throughout his career and demonstrating a great standing he had in the community, and for that reason he should "be rewarded right away."

Dosanjh, the minister of health, said he repeatedly told Grewal that he was asking for postings that could only be guaranteed by the prime minister.

Murphy expresses on tape concern about as many as eight possible opportunities for the opposition to defeat the government before the House of Commons rises at the end of June.

"Each one of them will be a nailbiter down to the end, and obviously the two votes that you and your wife represent -- the way the House is made up now -- matter a lot, or can matter. Because as I think I told you yesterday there are other members of your caucus who are facing the same dilemma that you face," he said on the tape.

Sources have told CanWest News Service at least four Tory MPs have been approached by the Liberals, including Calgary Conservative Lee Richardson, who informed colleagues he was offered the job of ailing Natural Resources Minister John Efford.

All appear to have refused the offers, which risked tipping the balance in a House of Commons confidence vote and preventing the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois from forcing an election.

All of this comes after Stronach announced her stunning defection from the Conservative party, and the audiotape even draws a parallel between her and Grewal, suggesting that his floor-crossing could be engineered to appear as though an independent intervenor played a crucial role.

"It's much like Belinda, where there is a third party who is independent of both sides. So, you didn't approach me and I didn't approach you. The independent party played the role," Murphy says.

As it stands now, the opposition parties need the support of two Independent MPs to successfully defeat the government.

Grewal gave an outright denial earlier Wednesday when asked if he or his wife had been offered anything in return for their vote in the Commons in tonight's confidence vote.

"At no time did I have any intention of accepting these offers," Grewal said, later producing tapes made from telephone conversations and discussions that occurred in his West Block office as recently as Tuesday.

There is nothing preventing Grewal from taping conversations, but there is a section of the Criminal Code that makes it an offence to influence one's way into or out of public office.

Grewal's was not the only denial Wednesday.

Under heavy scrutiny, Richardson, a close friend of Stronach, denied he had been offered a cabinet posting in the Liberal government.

In addition to Richardson and the Grewals, a fourth Tory MP, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said he was offered a cabinet post as recently as Wednesday. He told the Liberal MP who made the offer he was not interested.

Geoff Norquay, the Conservative communications director, criticized the prime minister for seeming to cling to power.

"We should have a big sign on the Peace Tower saying 'cabinet jobs for sale,' " he said in a television interview.