Thursday, July 14, 2005

July 14, 2005: Tory MP attacks Grewal's 'antics'

From the Globe and Mail:

Tory MP attacks Grewal's 'antics'
Surrey politician falls under renewed fire as Mounties interview campaign donors
Thursday, July 14, 2005 Updated at 5:17 AM EDT
From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Vancouver — Gurmant Grewal has been cleared by the Conservative Party of wrongdoing but a continuing RCMP review into political contributions given to the Surrey MP and criticisms from a fellow MP and organizers continue to follow the controversial politician.

John Cummins, MP for the riding adjacent to Mr. Grewal's, said there was a clear mishandling of funds.

"Absolutely, no doubt, Mr. Grewal's antics have hurt the party," Mr. Cummins said on the Rafe Mair radio show. "When you start getting cheques made out to you personally, you're asking for trouble. Is that personal income or is that money going to the constituency association? If it's personal income, is it money being used to influence you and the decisions you make?"

Conservative MP John Reynolds, chair of the national campaign, said Mr. Grewal has been targeted because the MP tried to discredit the Liberals with his allegations they tried to recruit him to join their party.

RCMP officers interviewed one of the two men yesterday who say they did not receive tax receipts for political contributions they made to Mr. Grewal in late 2003 and the Conservative party has told them there is no record of the money they donated.

The contributors say that Mr. Grewal asked them to make the cheques out to him personally and assured them they would get a receipt for the $600 each donated.

The Conservatives and Mr. Grewal say the contributors are not entitled to a tax receipt under current legislation. It wasn't until January, 2004, that parties were required to give tax receipts.

"In those days [before the changes], every MP received cheques for their nominations or when they were between elections that did not qualify for tax receipts."

Mr. Cummins, the MP for Delta-Richmond East, said he has always had contributions made out to his constituency association, and Vancouver Island North Conservative MP John Duncan said he has never received cheques from donors made out to him.

"I've never done that because I never even thought of doing it. I knew it was allowed under the rules, but I just wanted to stay away from it. I thought it made it much easier to explain if everything was clearly in the constituency association account," Mr. Duncan said.

Mr. Duncan said the Conservative Party has addressed most of the concerns about the cheques that donors say they sent without getting a receipt.

Four of the cheques did not qualify for a tax receipt, a fifth was given an official receipt, and Mr. Duncan said mystery surrounds a sixth cheque made out to Mr. Grewal. Although the back of the cheque shows a deposit in Vancouver with Mr. Grewal's signature, the Conservatives have records that clearly show the Surrey MP was in Ottawa that day, Mr. Duncan said.

New Westminster-Coquitlam-Burnaby MP Paul Forseth said Mr. Grewal, who was not talking to reporters yesterday, has been cleared in every allegation of wrongdoing in the past.

"He has tried to do everything properly," Mr. Forseth said. "The Liberals keep trying to make him look bad and they keep stirring things up."

Mr. Grewal also received support from Don McCrimmon, president of the Langley Conservatives riding association, and Menno Froese, president of the Abbotsford riding association.

"What it does reflect is how easy it is to take away the focus from where the issues really are," Mr. McCrimmon said.

Mr. Froese, whose riding includes a large and growing politically influential Indo-Canadian population, said the issue has dominated discussions within the Indo-Canadian community.

"Mr. Grewal is four constituencies away from our constituency, and it hasn't been an active issue among supporters here," Mr. Froese said. "But I hear that it's quite controversial on the Indo-Canadian radio shows."

Manjit Dhillon, who is also on the Abbotsford riding executive and an organizer among the Indo-Canadian community in the Fraser Valley, said Conservative Party members have told him they want quicker action from Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

"We are tired of seeing every few days something popping up involving Gurmant Grewal. There are 300 MPs, why does everything have to involve Mr. Grewal? For the community and the party's sake, we hope to stop seeing that," Mr. Dhillon said. "We also want Mr. Harper to be more decisive about whether he is supporting Mr. Grewal or not."

For more on Grewal and the Grewal tapes, see Buckets of Grewal.