Sunday, May 22, 2005

May 22 2005 CTV Reports: Grewal Claims It Was A Sting

A Conservative MP at the heart of a political ethics controversy says he secretly recorded conversations with high-ranking Liberals to show how low that party would sink.But only Gurmant Grewal is speaking out about this: His party, which has told Grewal not to make some parts of the tapes public, hasn't said anything yet. And the Conservatives haven't joined an NDP and Bloc Quebecois call for an RCMP investigation. The Liberals deny making any offer.The recorded conversations relate to discussions Grewal had with various Liberal politicians and officials about supporting the Liberal budget. "I wanted Canadians to know how low this government can sink, making these offers to members of Parliament to buy out their votes," Grewal told CTV News Vancouver on Sunday --his first public statement in days. Grewal has accused the Liberals of making an offer to him and his wife, also a Conservative MP, in exchange for their abstention on the critical budget vote last Thursday. He said the conversation took place with Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff. "He made two offers -- diplomatic, as well as a senate position for my wife. Even a cabinet position."Grewal also said he spoke for about two hours with federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, a fellow B.C. MP. Grewal said he had no intention of accepting any offer, but strung the Liberals along to gather evidence. The Criminal Code says it's an offence to offer a reward to an MP for a vote, but it's also against the law to accept a reward. Murphy has hired a lawyer to protect his interests. He has refused an interview request. But Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh said Grewal made
the first move and that the Liberals have done nothing wrong."The discussion obviously was started by him and we were carrying on the discussion within the appropriate framework," he said. Both sides agree there was a go-between: Salish Kalia, a friend of both Grewal and Dosanjh.On Thursday, Kalia said: "He (Grewal) said, 'yeah, if you can talk to someone, I'm interested'."Grewal, however, has a tape of a phone conversation conducted between himself and Khalia in Punjabi that suggests Khalia would back Grewal's version of events if the matter ever became public. "This would be enough for anyone to know, in a real sense, that the Liberals are making offers. And the proof is in the pudding." Kalia has since issued a statement saying that conversation is being played out of context and called for Grewal to release more of the tapes. Dosanjh wouldn't comment to CTV News Vancouver. The whole mess had NDP spokesman Jamie Heath telling CTV's Question Period: "The best way to clear the air would be to have an independent investigation, probably the RCMP, to have a look at this."The Conservatives haven't joined that call for a police investigation. While there are up to four hours of tapes in total, Grewal has only released a few minutes of them. "He won't say why and neither will party officials," said CTV's David Akin

CTV interview with Grewal May 22

Link to the right: Renu Bakshi speaks with Gurmant Grewal 3:41

(Video starts with Grewal's hand on a small ghetto'-blaster. He hits play and voices are heard. In front of the video are three or four cassettes.)

Renu Bakshi: Grewal insists he did it as a good Samaritan. That he secretly recorded conversations so, in his words, Canadians could know the truth

Grewal: I wanted Canadians to know how low this government can sink making the offers to Members of Parliament to buy out their vote.

Renu Bakshi: The Conservative MP claims the Liberals offered him goodies to change his vote before the crucial budget vote and that the Prime Minister's chief of staff was in on it.

Grewal: He made two offers: diplomatic as well as the ambass..., uh, senate position for my wife. Even a cabinet position.

Renu Bakshi: Grewal said he had no intention of accepting the offer, but he strung them on to expose what he calls vote buying. He says he secretly taped nearly every conversation, including a face-to-face with health minister Ujjal Dosanjh.

Grewal: He ordered pizza and we talked for about two hours. And thereafter he says, ok, that he has spoken to the prime minister.

Renu Bakshi: How many minutes of tape in total do you have?

Grewal: I didn't count, but it would be maybe two-and-a-half hours or three hours; including the telephone conversation, four hours.

Renu Bakshi: Part of Grewal's inventory is a conversation with the middle man, who set up the meeting with the Liberals. On Thursday, Sadesh Kalia told CTV News that Grewal initiated it.

Kalia: He said yeah, if you can talke to someone I'm interested.

(Reporter standing over tape machine which is playing part of tape of Kalia.)

Renu Bakshi: Today Grewal played a Punjabi conversation that may tell a different story. (Video of ghetto-blaster with three cassettes in front of it.) On tape the middle-man says if the government doesn't come through with the deal, he'll publicly say the government started the talks.

Grewal: This will be enough for anyone to know that in a real sense the Liberals are making offers. The proof is in the pudding.

Renu Bakshi: But is it enough? The public has heard only a few minutes of tape. Nearly four hours of conversation is being controlled not by Grewal but by the Conservative Party's communication department. And Grewal says they are not ready to release.

Grewal: I didn't make that decision. The decision was made by the communication department. I think these answers should be given by them, not by me.

Renu Bakshi to Grewal: That's fair that you've said that, but maybe you should understand that you're the one wearing this.

Grewal: (nodding) uh huh.

Renu Bakshito Grewal: And the communications department is not.

Renu Bakshi: Grewal says that a lot of the recordings are unclear, but he's confident that the few minutes that are made public are enough to prove the Liberals are corrupt, and he hopes that it is enough forthe RCMP to launch an investigation.

Grewal: The issue is not who approached who--despite that they approached me--the issue is that the Liberal government of Paul Martin which is making the offers, they are negotiating, and then they are offering the rewards, put it on the tape, in lieu of my abstention and my wife's abstention from this important vote in the house.

Renu Bakshi (Live to camera): Again, this certainly is not the whole story four hours of tapes have not been released. And the question of who initiated the meeting is key despite what Grewal says. No doubt it will be something that the RCMP would consider if this issue is investigated. I asked Grewal whether he told the middle-man to protect him by saying the government started the process, whether he actually had a deal with the middle-man himself, he said he'll only speak to what's on the tape, and of course that's only to tapes that we have heard, and we haven't heard all the calls. Today that middle man said in a written statement that he wants Grewal to put more context to this issue by releasing more of the tapes. He still insists that it was Grewal who initiated the meeting. As for Ujjal Dosanjh, though he did return our calls, he said he has no comment at this time. And in terms of the RCMP investigation, leaders of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois are also calling for one, and even though Grewal says his party is backing him no other conservative, including the leader, has spoken up.