Wednesday, May 25, 2005

May 25, 2005 CanWest Reports: Canadian May Never Hear Secret Tapes. Grewal Will Give Them To The RCMP

Canadians may never hear Tory MP's secret tapes: Gurmant Grewal promises to give recordings to RCMP
Edmonton Journal
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Page: A8
Section: News
Byline: Peter O'Neil
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: Vancouver Sun; CanWest News Service

OTTAWA - Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal said Tuesday he expects a probe by authorities into his allegations of Liberal corruption, and promised to share his entire collection of secretly recorded tapes with investigators, though not necessarily with Canadians.

Grewal was responding to mounting pressure from other opposition parties, and from a British Columbia man in the middle of the controversy, demanding that Grewal and the Tories make the tapes public or hand them over to the RCMP.

Grewal has alleged that top Liberals tried to buy his vote with a bribe, while the government insists the B.C. MP was turned down after repeatedly asking for a patronage reward if he became a Liberal or abstained from last week's confidence vote.

"I believe that there (will) be an investigation ... and I would be more than happy to co-operate with that," Grewal told the Vancouver Sun on Tuesday. "And I believe that they should have all the tapes. But whether they should be for public consumption, I don't know."

Geoff Norquay, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's director of communications, said the party will consider releasing the tapes and contacting police only after the tapes are translated from Punjabi to English.

The Conservatives have released eight minutes out of a total of four hours of taped conversations between Grewal and various Liberals, including Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, chief of staff to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

A maximum 14-year jail term, the same penalty as for aggravated sexual assault, can be imposed on anyone convicted of violating the bribery section of the Criminal Code, which prohibits members of Parliament from seeking or offering jobs, money or "valuable consideration" in return for favours done in their capacity as MPs.

Two opposition parties said Tuesday the tapes need to be handed over immediately. "Given that they produced part of those tapes to try and tarnish the Liberals, I don't think they have any choice, from an ethical standpoint, but to release all of them," said NDP justice critic Joe Comartin.

Bloc justice critic Richard Marceau said Tuesday the RCMP will need the tapes if they plan to heed opposition calls for a criminal investigation into an alleged bribery involving an MP.

Grewal has said he has a recording making clear that Sudesh Kalia, who arranged a May 15 meeting between Grewal and Dosanjh, initiated the talks. But Kalia, a longtime Liberal who worked on Grewal's campaigns as a show of friendship since 1997, supports Dosanjh's contention it was Grewal who approached the Liberals seeking a reward.

Kalia also said Grewal asked if the Liberals could make his wife Nina an MP for a neighbouring riding, Canada's ambassador to the United Nations.

The Liberals have avoided questions regarding why the government isn't going to the police if they believe Grewal was trying to sell his votes for patronage plums.

"The only thing the minister has alleged is that Mr. Grewal misunderstood the situation. He felt he had an obligation to clear up Mr. Grewal's misunderstanding. And he did," said Ken Polk, Dosanjh's director of communications.

The NDP says it will ask Bernard Shapiro, the House of Commons ethics commissioner, to investigate possible violations of the code of conduct for MPs and cabinet ministers. But Micheline Rondeau-Parent, Shapiro's spokeswoman, said no formal request had been filed as of Tuesday.