Wednesday, May 25, 2005

May 25, 2005: Grewal had claimed offers before

The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario)
May 25, 2005 Wednesday Final Edition

LENGTH: 651 words

HEADLINE: Grewal a repeat accuser?; MP who says Liberals tried to buy his vote has made similar allegations twice before

SOURCE: Toronto Star



Tory MP Gurmant Grewal, who last week accused senior Liberals of vote-buying, has levelled similar charges on two other occasions in the past decade.

Senior government officials yesterday held up those cases as evidence the B.C. MP's allegations aren't credible as Liberal and Tory officials sparred over the fallout from the controversy. The dispute centres on surreptitious recordings of conversations between Grewal and top Liberals, including Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff.

"Mr. Grewal's got a history of making allegations for all sorts of positions, but the fact is that he was never approached," said Marc Roy, a spokesperson for Martin.

The Liberals also repeated demands that the Conservatives release the tapes of the Grewal-Murphy exchanges in their entirety.

The Tories said they are prepared to turn the tapes over to "the appropriate authorities."

"The PMO guys could concentrate on explaining what exactly the Prime Minister's chief of staff was doing coaching a member of Parliament on how to lie and how to maintain . . . plausible deniability," said Geoff Norquay, spokesperson for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. "They could also release the phone logs of all the attempts they made last week to suborn and hijack our MPs."

Roy said the public should be told how much Harper's office knew of Grewal's plan to secretly tape his discussions with Murphy.

Norquay said senior party officials became aware of the Grewal-Murphy negotiations last Wednesday.

He said they gave no instructions to Grewal to tape the conversation, "nor did we tell him not to . . . there's nothing illegal about doing that."

Grewal, a onetime British Columbia Liberal, first went public in 1995 with accusations he was approached by influential provincial Liberals with offers of plum positions.

He said current B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, then leader of the provincial Liberals, indirectly pressured him to drop out of the race for a provincial riding nomination.

Grewal said a senior party official acting on behalf of Campbell offered him a job as a deputy minister if he quit the battle. Campbell denied this ever happened.

In 2002, Grewal, who by then was a Canadian Alliance MP, said a Liberal MP offered him a job in prime minister Jean Chretien's government if he switched back to the Liberals.

A spokesperson for Chretien pointed out that MPs don't have the power to offer senior government appointments.

In a related incident with the B.C. Liberals before the 1996 provincial election, Grewal said the secretary of the provincial party verbally abused and threatened him. Grewal, who ran and lost as a Reform party candidate, said Sandeep Powar called him on election night and began harassing him .

Powar, who denied making the call, was charged with verbally abusing and threatening Grewal and resigned from his post in the B.C. Liberal party. The Crown dropped the charges

Grewal couldn't be reached yesterday but last week he alluded to the previous allegations.

Explaining why he taped the recent conversations with senior Liberals, he said, "Last time when I was made the offer, I didn't have any evidence."

Grewal said he was approached by senior Liberals and eventually spoke at length with Murphy. He said he was offered a diplomatic post for himself and a Senate seat for his wife Nina -- also a Tory MP -- if they abstained from last week's crucial budget vote.

The party produced an eight-minute excerpt of a recorded conversation between the two men. The tape includes no specific offers from Murphy, but he does discuss various strategies for abstentions.

The Bloc Quebeois has demanded that the RCMP investigate the possibility the conversation violated the law.

A spokesperson for the federal New Democrats said the party was deciding whether to ask the Commons ethics commissioner to conduct an inquiry.