Thursday, May 26, 2005

May 26, 2005: Toronto Star editorial: Release Grewal's tapes

Copyright 2005 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto Star
May 26, 2005 Thursday

LENGTH: 317 words

HEADLINE: Release Grewal's tapes


Were Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals caught out trying to negotiate the support of Conservative MPs Gurmant Grewal and Nina Grewal before last week's crucial confidence vote in Parliament which the government just barely survived? That is what Gurmant Grewal claims.

Or did Grewal go fishing for a federal appointment for helping the Liberals prevail, only to be firmly rebuffed? That's what Martin's chief of staff Tim Murphy and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh say.

Or did all of the above take place?

In overheated Ottawa last week, anything might have happened.

Canadians will never fully know what went on unless Conservative leader Stephen Harper prevails on Grewal to release four hours of tapes he says he made before the vote.

So far, Grewal has made public only a brief eight-minute excerpt. That is not enough to gauge any party's credibility, or to judge whether the talks were merely seedy, or unethical, or unlawful. While Harper is prepared to turn the tapes over to the Mounties for review, he should also make them available publicly.

In the brief excerpt offered by the Tories, Murphy appears to say it is a "bad idea" to cut deals or to lie about them. However, if an MP were to abstain on the vote "in a principled way," Murphy says, "we can have a discussion that welcomes someone to the party." But discussions in advance on a specific appointment just aren't on, he adds.

Absent more context, this isolated snippet does not prove wrongdoing by any party. Unlike Belinda Stronach's walk to the Liberal side, the Grewal-Murphy musings did not affect the vote.

Still, the excerpts confirm some fancy dancing was going on that does not make anyone look especially good. It would be instructive to know more.

The Liberals want the tapes released in their entirety so Canadians can judge the full record for themselves. That seems right. The Conservatives want us to settle for snippets. Why?