Vancouver Sun: "Donations Legal:Grewal"
Donations legal: Grewal
Donations legal: Grewal
Controversial Conservative MP says cheques were made out to him directly because donors were 'shy'
Newton-North Delta MP Gurmant Grewal said Tuesday that cheques made out to him personally were within Elections Canada guidelines.
Surrey Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal says he did not break any laws or campaign rules by accepting donations that are now being investigated by the RCMP.
Grewal released copies of the controversial donation cheques at his office Tuesday -- two $600 cheques that were made out to Grewal personally and a third cheque for $1,800 that was made out to his wife Nina's political campaign -- and defended his reasons for taking the personal cheques without giving receipts or reporting the donations to Elections Canada.
"If he [Barj Dhahan, the man who wrote one of the controversial cheques] wanted a receipt, he could have made it to the [constituency association]," Grewal said.
Explaining why Dhahan wrote one of the cheques directly to him and not to the association, Grewal said: "He was shy and he chose to do that because then his allegiance to the Canadian Alliance would not be made public."
He said the second donor, Sarup Mann gave the same reason for writing a cheque directly to him.
Grewal said he is not able to issue receipts for cheques written directly to him because "I do not have a charitable organization for Gurmant Grewal," and added that Dhahan and Mann should have known that.
Dhahan and Mann came forward this month, saying they each made $600 campaign contributions directly to Grewal in December 2003, and that neither of them have received proper receipts.
Photocopies of the cancelled cheques released Tuesday show that Grewal, MP for Newton-North Delta, endorsed the cheques, and that the cheques had been deposited and cleared.
Grewal said he did not put the money into his personal account, but handed it over to the Grand Taj Banquet Hall to help pay for an appreciation dinner being held in his honour. No one could be reached Tuesday at the Grand Taj.
Grewal also said that under guidelines set out by Elections Canada at the time he took the donations, it was not against the rules to accept a cheque made out directly to him without reporting it.
"When he gave this cheque, it was outside the campaign period," Grewal said. "At that time there was no requirement [by] Elections Canada to issue a receipt."
While defending the cheques, Grewal added there "could be some more" cheques that were made out to him personally, but that he did not know for sure.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Tom Seaman confirmed Tuesday that police are "reviewing information to ascertain if any laws have been broken" with regards to the donations, but said he could not speak about specifics.
Asked about the police investigation, Grewal replied: "Let them do their job. I have nothing to hide."
In regards to the donation made to his wife's campaign, Grewal acknowledged a receipt should have been issued for the $1,800 cheque, and said the error was "simply an oversight on the part of a volunteer who was supposed to issue a receipt."
Reached Tuesday, Dhahan took issue with Grewal's version of events, saying the Surrey MP had specifically requested his cheque not be made to the riding association, and that Grewal had promised a receipt would be issued for the donation.
"I do not make personal gifts to people," Dhahan said, explaining Grewal asked the cheque be made out in his own name because he was not yet certain where he was planning to run.
"I gave him the money on the understanding that the party he represents would give me a receipt," he said.
" 'A receipt will be issued.' Those were his words."
Mann could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Grewal said he does not recall promising Dhahan a receipt, and accused Dhahan and Mann of being part of a Liberal "smear campaign."
In May, Grewal released secretly recorded tapes that he said show Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, and Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff were trying to entice him across the floor before a crucial budget vote.
He said he believes Dhahan and Mann have ties to Ujjal Dosanjh, and said that they have come forward as part of a larger attempt to discredit his reputation.
"Once they [the Liberals] are caught on tape, they are trying to smear my reputation," Grewal said. "This is completely a smear campaign."
Dhahan denied the allegation. He said he has hosted an event at his house for Dosanjh, but that he does not know him personally, and is not tied to him politically.
"I'm not out here for some personal grudge or vendetta against Mr. Grewal," Dhahan said. "I have nothing to gain from anyone."