Monday, June 06, 2005

June 6, 2005: CBC Reports: Tories Blame Tape-Altering On "Technical Glitch"

Tories blame tape-altering claims on technical glitch

The Conservative party is claiming that secret recordings made by member of Parliament Gurmant Grewal appear to have been altered because of a technical glitch....

In a press release, the party said that certain brief passages of the audio tapes were accidentally omitted in the transfer to a CD format.

When the missing audio is restored, the substance of the conversations remains the same, according to the press release.

Grewal secretly recorded hours of conversations with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, the prime minister's chief of staff, about switching parties. On the tapes, Dosanjh and Murphy appear to hint that the B.C. MP and his wife Nina, who is also a Conservative MP, could be rewarded in the future in return for supporting the Liberal government in last month's non-confidence vote.

The Tories are defending the authenticity of the tapes in the wake of two audio experts who independently concluded that the secret recordings made by Grewal were edited.

John Dooher, a forensic audio engineer hired by CBC News, said Thursday there is a "crude" edit and something "amiss" about a section of recordings made by Grewal.

"Right here, we hear what sounds like an edit. We have a change in the frequency spectrum so something has changed there," said Dooher, demonstrating the difference while at a sound board.

Dooher said that more sophisticated testing could offer more certainty, but he believes his original conclusion.

"This sounds to me, not only that this is an edit, but an edit done with something very crude," he said.

His conclusions are supported by Stevan Pausak, one of Canada's leading forensic-sound analysts. Pausak was asked by the Canadian Press to carry out a similar examination. He said one of the recordings has an abnormal break, indicating a section may have been cut out.

"I'm talking about alteration. I am trying to avoid the word tampering," Pausak told the Canadian Press.

"When you are using the word tampering, that means intent, right? Most of the time there is no way to show intent through the examination of the recording. You just see that it's altered."

Dosanjh hinted Thursday that Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's office was involved in tampering with the tapes.

"The leader of the Opposition had the tapes for 14 days," Dosanjh said of the contentious secret recordings. "What were they doing with them?"

bout 90 minutes of taped conversations were released early this week, though Grewal had said he recorded up to four hours of talks with Dosanjh and Murphy.

Grewal denied Thursday the tapes had been altered before refusing to answer any more questions on the grounds that the RCMP were looking into the matter.

The Conservatives want an inquiry conducted on their allegation that the Liberals tried to buy Grewal's vote, and the Bloc Québécois have asked the RCMP to investigate the matter.

Dosanjh and other top Liberals have said Grewal made the first approach, demanding a cabinet position for himself and an ambassadorship or Senate appointment for his wife, in return for not voting against the Liberals on a key May 19 confidence motion.