Sunday, July 31, 2005

Surrrey Leader: Grewal, leader at odds over secret taping

Grewal, leader at odds over secret taping

By Dan Ferguson and Jeff Nagel
Jul 31 2005
Recordings continued despite leader's order to stop

The day after he says he was ordered to stop secretly recording conversations with Liberal party brass, Gurmant Grewal made at least two more tapes The Newton-North Delta MP said that Conservative party Leader Stephen Harper told him to "end the taping process" during a meeting in which Grewal raised the possibility of recording Prime Minister Paul Martin

The meeting with Harper, according to previous statements by both Grewal and Harper, took place on May 17. Yet Grewal's own records, posted publicly on his website, indicate that on May 18, the day after he said Harper ordered him to cease taping, he carried a hidden recording device into a meeting with Martin's chief of staff, Tim Murphy. The same records show Grewal also recorded at least one telephone conversation with a senior Liberal on May 18.

Grewal has said he made the tapes to prove his claim that the Liberals were engaging in "vote buying" by offering cushy appointments to induce him and his MP wife Nina to switch parties and vote with the minority Liberal government. During an interview with The Leader published last Wednesday, Grewal said that Harper knew and approved of his taping activities, and only forbade him from recording the prime minister.

Grewal said when he proposed secretly taping Martin should they meet, Harper initially said yes, then changed his mind.
"... first he (Harper) said, okay go ahead and do it, until I tell you otherwise. Then ... immediately in the same discussion he said, 'Gurmant, I think it's not a good idea.' And I agreed with him." The day after the interview appeared in print, Grewal issued a written "clarification" in which he said that Harper did know about the taping, but did not specifically approve the activity

"Once I had begun taping I informed Mr. Harper that I was doing so," Grewal said. "No approval was sought or given. Subsequently, when I told Mr. Harper that I had an opportunity to meet with and tape the prime minister, Mr. Harper told me to end the taping process."

William Stair, a spokesman for the Conservative party leader, appeared to contradict Grewal's claim that Harper was informed of the taping before the May 17 meeting. "That isn't true," Stairs told The Leader on Friday.

"They spoke (about the taping for the first time) on the 17th of May."

Stairs declined to discuss Grewal's apparent contravention of Harper's stop-taping order. "I don't know what sort of conclusion you can draw from that," Stairs said when asked about the May 18 recordings. "This is an issue between the two of them (Harper and Grewal)."

Stairs offered a muted defence of Grewal, saying the MP has "done nothing wrong that anyone has proven."