Tuesday, May 24, 2005

May 24, 2005: CTV News: Conservatives say RCMP will get Grewal tapes

Conservatives say RCMP will get Grewal tapes
Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Conservative party will hand over taped conversations laden with high-stakes political intrigue to the RCMP, a source said Tuesday.

The tapes -- a behind-the-scenes peek at political horse-trading -- have already sparked controversy but only a snippet of the recordings have been made public. The Tories plan to transfer the bulk of separate taped discussions between Tory MP Gurmant Grewal and two key Liberals: Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, chief of staff to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

The talks offered a gripping sideshow to the Liberal-Conservative non-confidence showdown in the House of Commons last week.

Murphy is overheard offering advice to Grewal about how he and his wife -- also an MP -- could miss the vote and guarantee a Liberal victory.

Murphy is overheard suggesting he's willing to negotiate something later with Grewal, who made clandestine recordings of the conversations.

But Murphy can also be overheard rejecting an offer to discuss a Senate appointment. He says it was Grewal who came calling with such a request.

The RCMP said it has received a letter from the Bloc Quebecois asking for an investigation, and was reviewing the matter Tuesday. Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe asked in the letter whether the conversations violated Criminal Code corruption provisions.

The Tory source said the party plans to fully co-operate.

"We're going to hand it to the proper authorities -- I would assume it's the RCMP," the source said. "The leader's office is aware of it."

He said the transfer will be made once Punjabi portions of the tape are translated, but couldn't predict a time frame.

The Tories have been criticized for releasing just eight minutes from taped conversations thought to span more than two hours.

Martin spokesman Scott Reid suggested it was Grewal who asked officials to intervene in a pair of investigations against him.

Immigration Minister Joe Volpe had called on the RCMP and the federal ethics commissioner to examine allegations that Grewal and another Tory offered to aid immigrants in return for money.

On the tape, Murphy is overheard referring to discussions he's had with Volpe.

"Mr. Grewal had suggested that perhaps some action could be taken with respect to the investigations launched by the RCMP and ethics commissioner," said Reid.

"Mr. Murphy appropriately insisted that those were independent processes and that nothing could or would be done.

"Mr. Grewal asked if Mr. Volpe might at least say a gracious word about him in public and Mr. Murphy undertook to raise the matter."

Grewal agreed he wanted Volpe to retract his allegations. But he angrily denied ever asking anyone to interfere with an investigation.

"It's absolutely false," Grewal said in an interview. "I told these guys, 'This minister owes me an apology.' Because the comments he made, he knew they were false.

"And he withdrew them in the House (of Commons). What about the ones he made outside the House? "

Grewal says the rest of the tapes will prove his version of the facts. He says the still-unreleased portions of the tape will include him expressing his wish that the investigations continue.

He says the "cloud" of suspicion over him will only be cleared once he's vindicated.

Conservative officials have in their possession two CDs that hold up to three recorded conversations, said party spokesman Geoff Norquay.

He wouldn't say what the party plans to do with the tapes.

"The first thing we'll do is get them translated then we'll look at those issues," Norquay said.

Conservatives are calling on the PMO to release phone logs of all recent conversations between the office and Tory MPs.

They say the Liberals embarked on a poaching mission in the days leading up to their razor-thin victory in a confidence vote. The Liberals may have saved their government by handing the human resources cabinet portfolio to Belinda Stronach.

Murphy has hired a lawyer.

"(He is) considering taking action against Mr. Grewal should he persist in his false suggestions," Reid said.