Friday, June 10, 2005

June 10: Grewal Threatened With Being Deported For Alleged Illegal Immigration

Yahoo News Reporting
Indo-Canadian MP threatened with deportation

Three weeks after implicating Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff and a senior member of his cabinet in an alleged vote-buying scandal, an opposition lawmaker is now facing possible deportation.

Immigration officials refused to divulge Friday whether they are investigating Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal for allegedly faking a business transaction to fulfill his obligations as an investor immigrant when he moved to Canada from Liberia in Western Africa in 1991.

But spokesperson Greg Scott said: "If there is evidence that somebody obtained their citizenship through fraudulent grounds, false representation, knowingly concealing material circumstances, it is something the department takes very seriously."

Since releasing secret recordings of his conversations with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and senior Martin advisor Tim Murphy about crossing the floor of the House of Commons to bolster the Liberal government's chances of winning a crucial confidence vote last month, Grewal has suddenly become a pariah in his largely immigrant westcoast electoral district and the target of numerous wrongdoing accusations.

A former business associate accused the Indian-born MP Wednesday of having bought a small carpet business from him in the city of Vancouver for 50,000 dollars (40,000 US dollars) in April 1993, then taking the money back the next day in a phoney transaction meant to dupe immigration officials.

Then, Air Canada announced it would investigate an incident at the Vancouver airport in which Grewal was overheard asking several passengers if they would carry a package for him on a flight to Ottawa.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister Joseph Volpe hinted at a possible bad outcome for Grewal if the allegations proved to be true, telling reporters Thursday that investor immigrants who failed to meet their conditions "don't usually get to stay" in Canada.

Those comments sparked outrage from Conservative MPs who accused Volpe of threatening Grewal.

"Does threatening to deport a member of Parliament whom the Liberals have failed to buy not reflect more the politics of a banana republic than a modern democracy like Canada?" Conservative MP Jason Kenney said.

Since 1977, only 50 Canadians have been stripped of their citizenship after investigations showed they had been gained improperly, Greg Scott said.

Nonetheless, the affair has hurt the opposition party in opinion polls, precipitating a sharp drop in Conservative support.

A survey released Wednesday showed Conservatives at 23 percent compared to the Liberals' 37 percent, after leading the Liberals six weeks ago at the height of testimony at a judicial inquiry into another government scandal.

The inquiry headed by judge John Gomery is looking into allegations that the Liberals under Martin's predecessor, Jean Chretien, received kickbacks from advertising firms to whom they had given millions of dollars in government contracts to promote federalism in the province of Quebec to stem separatist sentiments.

Meanwhile, Grewal's surreptitious tapes now form the basis for an investigation by the parliamentary ethics commissioner and a complaint to the federal police.

In the recordings -- which the government claimed were edited and inaccurate -- Dosanjh and Murphy discuss a possible cabinet job for Grewal and a plum senate seat or diplomatic posting for his wife if he joined the Liberals ahead of the confidence vote.

Grewal and his wife Nina became the first spouses to be elected simultaneously to the Canadian parliament in 2004.

Grewal said he meant to show that the Liberals were offering opposition MPs illegal rewards to defect.

Former Conservative star and billionaire auto parts heiress Belinda Stronach was the only MP to actually cross the floor ahead of the vote, becoming human resources minister in Martin's government.

With her help, the Liberals passed their budget by one vote.

Grewal is now on stress leave.