Thursday, May 19, 2005

May 19 2005: Multiple Reports: PM says No Offfer Of Appointment was Made

Prime Minister Martin tells the House of Commons that Grewal was not offered any appointment to influence his vote on the budget amendment that is now just hours away. "No such offers were made," Martin says. "Offers were solicited and offers were turned down."That same day, Sudesh Kalia, a Liberal supporter who calls himself a friend of both Grewal and Dosanjh, appears to back up the government in at least one key point - he says Grewal phoned him the previous Sunday. Kalia said Grewal used him to set up a meeting with Dosanjh. Kalia says Grewal definitely made the first approach.
Later that day, the government survives a confidence motion on a budget amendment by one vote, after the speaker votes with the Liberals. Grewal and his wife vote with the Conservatives.
» CBC STORY: Go-between says Tory MP approached Liberals

Jobs-for-votes charges fly: Tory MPs say Liberals sought deals; gov't says it was the other way around

Edmonton Journal
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Page: A1 / FRONT
Section: News
Byline: Allan Woods, Anne Dawson and Grant Robertson
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: CanWest News Service; Calgary Herald

OTTAWA - A war of words broke out ahead of a crucial confidence vote tonight, with a B.C. Conservative MP accusing the prime minister's closest adviser of trying to lure him and his wife away from their party, and producing a dramatic audiotape of closed-door negotiations as proof.

But Chief of Staff Tim Murphy and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said it was Tory Gurmant Grewal who approached them asking that he and his wife, fellow Tory MP Nina Grewal, be given plum patronage appointments for crossing the floor and joining the Liberals.

"In exchange, I was given an understanding that I would be rewarded in some fashion," Grewal said late Wednesday night.

The Liberals say Grewal, a Conservative MP since 1997, wanted a cabinet post and a Senate appointment for his wife in exchange for their help in propping up the government through today's non-confidence vote on the budget.

Murphy disputed that any offer was made and said only that conversations were taking place.

"He indicated he would cross the floor to support the government. I told him that it would be better to abstain on (Thursday's) vote," Murphy said in a statement.

The Tories distributed copies of the tape Grewal made during his meeting with Murphy Wednesday. Shortly after, Dosanjh presented himself to the media to explain what happened.

He said it all started when he was approached by a mutual friend of his and Grewal's Saturday named Sudesh Kalia, and it was Kalia who actually formally proposed the deal.

"I'm actually offended that Mr. Grewal would go to the lengths of approaching us, making totally inappropriate demands," despite being rebuffed several times, Dosanjh said.

On the tape, Murphy is heard insisting that whatever deal is struck, the truth must be told.

"It's a bad idea to have any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade," says Murphy on the tape. "If anybody asks you was there a deal, you say no. You want that to be the truth. That's what I want: for the truth to be told."

The audiotape also fingers Immigration Minister Joe Volpe and alludes to the stunning defection of Tory turncoat Belinda Stronach, who announced Tuesday morning she would leave the Conservative party to sit in Prime Minister Paul Martin's cabinet as human resources minister.

Dosanjh said Grewal pushed himself on Murphy, showing photographs of him throughout his career and demonstrating a great standing he had in the community, and for that reason he should "be rewarded right away."

Dosanjh, the minister of health, said he repeatedly told Grewal that he was asking for postings that could only be guaranteed by the prime minister.

Murphy expresses on tape concern about as many as eight possible opportunities for the opposition to defeat the government before the House of Commons rises at the end of June.

"Each one of them will be a nailbiter down to the end, and obviously the two votes that you and your wife represent -- the way the House is made up now -- matter a lot, or can matter. Because as I think I told you yesterday there are other members of your caucus who are facing the same dilemma that you face," he said on the tape.

Sources have told CanWest News Service at least four Tory MPs have been approached by the Liberals, including Calgary Conservative Lee Richardson, who informed colleagues he was offered the job of ailing Natural Resources Minister John Efford.

All appear to have refused the offers, which risked tipping the balance in a House of Commons confidence vote and preventing the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois from forcing an election.

All of this comes after Stronach announced her stunning defection from the Conservative party, and the audiotape even draws a parallel between her and Grewal, suggesting that his floor-crossing could be engineered to appear as though an independent intervenor played a crucial role.

"It's much like Belinda, where there is a third party who is independent of both sides. So, you didn't approach me and I didn't approach you. The independent party played the role," Murphy says.

As it stands now, the opposition parties need the support of two Independent MPs to successfully defeat the government.

Grewal gave an outright denial earlier Wednesday when asked if he or his wife had been offered anything in return for their vote in the Commons in tonight's confidence vote.

"At no time did I have any intention of accepting these offers," Grewal said, later producing tapes made from telephone conversations and discussions that occurred in his West Block office as recently as Tuesday.

There is nothing preventing Grewal from taping conversations, but there is a section of the Criminal Code that makes it an offence to influence one's way into or out of public office.

Grewal's was not the only denial Wednesday.

Under heavy scrutiny, Richardson, a close friend of Stronach, denied he had been offered a cabinet posting in the Liberal government.

In addition to Richardson and the Grewals, a fourth Tory MP, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said he was offered a cabinet post as recently as Wednesday. He told the Liberal MP who made the offer he was not interested.

Geoff Norquay, the Conservative communications director, criticized the prime minister for seeming to cling to power.

"We should have a big sign on the Peace Tower saying 'cabinet jobs for sale,' " he said in a television interview.

May 19, 2005: Hansard; Layton asks Martin about Grewal negotiations

HANSARD

Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, today we are going to face two important budget votes. People care about these votes a great deal because they have the potential to help people and to help our environment.

What people are hearing about is Tory MPs raising the issue of patronage jobs. They are hearing responses that the Prime Minister's Office is playing games with public appointments. This does not rebuild faith in politics and if it in any way endangers the vote on the budget, this will have serious consequences. Can the Prime Minister assure us that there has been no offer of public jobs for a change in votes?

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Yes, I can, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to inform the House and the leader of the NDP that no such offers were made. I made it very clear the other day that no such offers were made. No such offers were made. Offers were solicited and offers were turned down.

Hon. Jack Layton (Toronto—Danforth, NDP): Mr. Speaker, we are about to vote on a very important budget. It is a better budget. I appreciate the answer, but I have to say if no public jobs were offered, the Prime Minister needs to explain now in the House why senior officials from his office are on tape speaking about the dangers of there being an explicit trade of jobs for votes.

What is the Prime Minister's explanation?

¸ (1430)

Right Hon. Paul Martin (Prime Minister, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a third party intermediary has confirmed that in fact a solicitation did come from a member of the opposition to a member of the government and that the solicitation was refused unequivocally.

May 19, 2005. Canada AM (CTV) interview: Beverly Thompson and Gurmant Grewal

Canada AM interview. here, item #4, Grewal's view"

Thompson: Last night conservative Mp Gurmant Grewal said that the Liberal Party was trying to woo him, trying to get him to cross over. Now, that may not seem unusual given these political times. But this is a story with a twist. Grewal said that in fact that he was being bribed, that the Liberal party was offering him a high position of power for himself and for his wife. And he says that he has proof. Gurmant Grewal joins us this morning in the foyer of the House of Commons and we can talk a little more about this.

Thompson: When did the phone calls begin, and when did the offer come in?

Grewal: It started coming Sunday afternoon.

Thompson: From Tim Murphy?

Grewal: No, it was through a common friend, but I had a meeting with Tim Murphy on Tuesday in Mr. Dosanjh's office. And then Mr. Tim Murphy came to my office as late as yesterday and he was making these agressive offers and negotiating and making deals.

Thompson: Agressive offers because they were saying that they were saying that they'd give you a plum position in some way.

Grewal: That's right.

Thompson: And were they specific about that?

Grewal: Yah, they were talking about diplomatic position and senate seats.

Thompson: And your response?

Grewal: My response was--you know, I have been offered similar positions in the past ... I would say a cabinet position in the past and I didn't take it, and I had no intention of taking it.

Thompson: But you taped this phone call?

Grewal: That's right.

Thompson: How come? Why did you decide to tape it?

Grewal: Uhh ... you know this government is, and the prime minister's office, is desperate, they are making these agressive offers and negotiating with some other colleagues as well--three or four as far as their version. And Canadians need to know what is the lowest level the government is prepared to sink.

Thompson: Isn't surreptiously taping a phone call when you're not telling someone--first of all it's against the law--isn't it, isn't that low level?

Grewal: Uhh, I don't think so. Uhh, I think Canadians need to know how desperate thi government is, and how they're making these deals behind the scenes. They're buying the votes of Canadians with taxpayers dollars. They're, they're buying our votes. It's an affront to democracy.

Thompson: But they're allowed, people are allowed to make those phone calls and those deals and cross the floor, provided of course that there's no bribery.

Grewal: But no in xxx xxx, for example in my situation it was in view of abstaining from this important vote or voting for the government.

Thompson: So, how long was the phone call that you taped?

Grewal: There are many, actually. I cannot tell you how many minutes, but there's a long conversation ... hours.

Thompson: Is there a portion that you're going to be releasing to the public?

Grewal: I think they have released some portion yesterday, and some other of the conversation would be at the disposal of the media if they want it.

Thompson: And why not release all of it?

Grewal: It's too long. (cross-talk) I don't know whether they'll release all of it. I cannot say that.

Thompson: But if all of the conversations that you have with all of those individuals--who deny it, because we heard from Ujjal Dosanjh, and they deny that any of this has happened.

Grewal: But the tape that we released speaks for itself. It will tell you all the story, not the partial story. It will tell you the complete story. So the complete tapes will be available if the media wanted to see it.

Thompson: OK. I'm told that we do have a portion of that tape now, from the phone call.
(clip from Gerwal-Murphy tape ... "Explicit discussions about senate or not senate I don't think are very helpful. And I don't think, frankly, can be had in advance of an abstention tomorrow. Then e'll have much more detailed and finally new discussion after that with some freedom."
Thompson: So what does that say to tax-payers. You've taped a phone call. He's talking about an announcement potentially

Grewal: It's Ujjal who's denying the government made any deals, but on the other hand they are aggressively making deals. And when they are making those deals, Canadians need to see that what is the state of democracy with this corrupt Liberal government and the Prime Minister's office.

Thompson: What do you think is the state of this government for this vote? What's you're bet tonight?

Grewal: I will not predict that. Let a free vote prevail. But I think that they are desperately making these deals it speaks for itself.

Thompson: OK. Thank-you for coming in to discuss this with us.

May 19, 2005. Martin denies that a deal was offered (CBC Radio)

http://www.cbc.ca/insite/CANADA_AT_FIVE_TORONTO/2005/5/19.html

martin on grewal
Duration: 00:00:28

The Prime Minister says a B-C Conservative M-P's story about being bribed to abstain from voting in tonight's confidence vote is ridiculous.

Paul Martin was commenting in Ottawa on claims by Gurmant Grewal that Martin's chief of staff offered to give him a diplomatic post and to name his wife, who is also an M-P, to the Senate, if he missed the vote on the budget bills.

Martin says it was Grewal who approached the Liberals. The Prime Minister maintains no deal was offered.