Thursday, May 26, 2005

May 26, 2005: CBC Reports Indo-Canadian Community Not Happy With Grewal

Indo-Canadians upset at Surrey MP's allegations
Last updated May 26 2005 09:24 AM PDT
CBC News
VANCOUVER A leading Surrey newspaper columnist says Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal's disclosure that he secretly taped conversations with senior Liberals is an embarrassment to the province's Indo-Canadian community.

B.C. Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal
Grewal has produced recordings with federal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and the Prime Minister's chief of staff that he says prove the Liberals offered him a bribe to side with them on the budget last week.

The Liberals say it was Grewal who wanted a deal to cross the floor, and was rebuffed.

* RELATED: Secret tapings latest controversy to cloud Parliament Hill

Rattan Mall of the Indo-Canadian Voice says many Indo-Canadians feel humiliated by the whole affair.

"And they're playing these games with intrigues and alleged bribes and negotiations," he says. "It makes the whole community look bad, and that's why the community, I think, is really angry."

Talk show host Harpreet Singh says its not just Indo-Canadian politicians who look bad, but all politicians.

"Some people in the community feel the image has been tarnished, but mostly feel that it's a politician's work. This thing, what has happened, has brought disgrace to the entire political system."

Grewal recorded four hours of conversations with Liberals, but has only publicly released a few minutes of the tape.

The complete tapes are being turned over to the RCMP, and it will be up to the Mounties to decide if there's something to investigate.

The ethics commissioner has also been asked by both the NDP and the Bloc Québécois to investigate Grewal's claims.

May 26, 2005: Edmonton Journal Reports: Volpe Confirms Chats

Volpe confirms chat about Grewal
Edmonton Journal
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Page: A8
Section: News
Dateline: TORONTO
Source: The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Immigration Minister Joe Volpe says he had no interest in helping a Conservative MP who alleges Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff offered him rewards in exchange for his abstention from last week's crucial budget vote.

Volpe confirmed Wednesday that Tim Murphy, Martin's top aide, "alerted" him to a conversation Murphy had with Tory MP Gurmant Grewal, a conversation secretly recorded by Grewal that's at the heart of allegations that the Liberals tried to buy him off.

Grewal said last week he was offered an ambassadorship and his wife, Nina, also a Tory MP, a Senate appointment if they would abstain from last week's narrow confidence vote in the House of Commons, a vote the Liberals survived by the slimmest of margins.

In the taped conversation, Grewal asked Murphy to ask Volpe if he would back off allegations that Grewal and another Tory had offered to aid immigrants in return for

money, allegations being examined by the RCMP.

Grewal was making "a series of requests, including some nice things to be said by me," Volpe said Murphy told him.

"I said, 'Look, I'm not going to say anything that's going to interfere with an impartial third-party investigation.' "

Volpe, who was in Toronto to deliver a luncheon speech to an audience at the University of Toronto, said Murphy didn't ask him to take any action regarding Grewal.

May 26, 2005: CTV Reports Volpe Confirms Chat With PMO Aide Over Grewal

CTV REPORTS: Volpe Confirms Chat With PMO Aide Over Grewal
Canadian Press
TORONTO — Immigration Minister Joe Volpe says he had no interest in helping a Conservative MP who alleges Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff offered him rewards in exchange for his abstention from last week's crucial budget vote. Volpe confirmed Wednesday that Tim Murphy, Martin's top aide, "alerted" him to a conversation Murphy had with Tory MP Gurmant Grewal -- a conversation secretly recorded by Grewal that's now at the heart of allegations that the Liberals tried to buy him off. Grewal said last week he was offered an ambassadorship and his wife Nina, also a Tory MP, a Senate appointment if they would abstain from last week's narrow confidence vote in the House of Commons, a vote the Liberals survived by the slimmest of margins. In the taped conversation, Grewal asked Murphy to ask Volpe if he would back off allegations that Grewal and another Tory had offered to aid immigrants in return for money - allegations now being examined by the RCMP. Grewal was making "a series of requests, including some nice things to be said by me," Volpe said Murphy told him. "I said, 'Look, I'm not going to say anything that's going to interfere with an impartial third-party investigation." Volpe, who was in Toronto to deliver a luncheon speech to an audience at the University of Toronto, said Murphy didn't ask him to take any action regarding Grewal. Instead, Murphy simply conveyed that Grewal had "a series of requests on the table," and had expressed concerns with respect to "initiatives" that had come the minister's office, he said. "I said, 'Listen, I've already put those things forward and they're going to see their way through,"' Volpe said. "And he said, 'Yeah, well, I agree with you. I'm just giving you an indication that we've been approached and these are some of the discussions that he wants to have."' Grewal secretly taped conversations
with both Murphy and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh which he says back his claims the Liberals were trying to convince him and his wife to abstain from voting. He said he ever intended to accept any offers, but was trying to gather evidence. Grewal has acknowledged wanting Volpe to retract the allegations, but describes as "absolutely false" suggestions by Martin spokesman Scott Reid that he had asked for interference in the investigations. Volpe said he didn't try to discourage Murphy from having the discussions with Grewal, saying that wasn't up to him. "I said to him, 'Well, good luck for you if you're going to have a conversation with him, but I'm not going to be doing anything that's going to in any way interfere in that third-party system,"' Volpe said. "He respected that and right off the bat said, 'None of us would ever go in that direction.' I said, 'Good, so we're all on the same page."' The Conservatives have been criticized for releasing an eight-minute snippet from tapes that are thought to span two hours. Party sources said Tuesday they would be handing over the bulk of the tapes to the RCMP for investigation The RCMP has said it has received a letter from the Bloc Quebecois asking for an investigation. On the segment of tape released by the Conservatives, Murphy is heard offering advice to Grewal about how he and his wife could miss the vote and guarantee a Liberal victory. He also indicates a willingness to negotiate something later with Grewal. Ultimately, the Liberals survived last week's razor-thin budget vote thanks to former Conservative Belinda Stronach's high-profile defection to the Liberal benches and the support of Independent MP Chuck Cadman. Murphy, meanwhile, has hired a lawyer and is considering taking legal action against Grewal.

May 26, 2005: Toronto Star editorial: Release Grewal's tapes

Copyright 2005 Toronto Star Newspapers, Ltd.
The Toronto Star
May 26, 2005 Thursday
SECTION: EDITORIAL; Pg. A24

LENGTH: 317 words

HEADLINE: Release Grewal's tapes

BODY:

Were Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals caught out trying to negotiate the support of Conservative MPs Gurmant Grewal and Nina Grewal before last week's crucial confidence vote in Parliament which the government just barely survived? That is what Gurmant Grewal claims.

Or did Grewal go fishing for a federal appointment for helping the Liberals prevail, only to be firmly rebuffed? That's what Martin's chief of staff Tim Murphy and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh say.

Or did all of the above take place?

In overheated Ottawa last week, anything might have happened.

Canadians will never fully know what went on unless Conservative leader Stephen Harper prevails on Grewal to release four hours of tapes he says he made before the vote.

So far, Grewal has made public only a brief eight-minute excerpt. That is not enough to gauge any party's credibility, or to judge whether the talks were merely seedy, or unethical, or unlawful. While Harper is prepared to turn the tapes over to the Mounties for review, he should also make them available publicly.

In the brief excerpt offered by the Tories, Murphy appears to say it is a "bad idea" to cut deals or to lie about them. However, if an MP were to abstain on the vote "in a principled way," Murphy says, "we can have a discussion that welcomes someone to the party." But discussions in advance on a specific appointment just aren't on, he adds.

Absent more context, this isolated snippet does not prove wrongdoing by any party. Unlike Belinda Stronach's walk to the Liberal side, the Grewal-Murphy musings did not affect the vote.

Still, the excerpts confirm some fancy dancing was going on that does not make anyone look especially good. It would be instructive to know more.

The Liberals want the tapes released in their entirety so Canadians can judge the full record for themselves. That seems right. The Conservatives want us to settle for snippets. Why?

May 26, 2005: Toronto Star: Volpe says he took no part in wooing Grewal

The Toronto Star
May 26, 2005 Thursday
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A06

HEADLINE: Volpe says he took no part in wooing Tory MP

BYLINE: Robert Benzie and Sean Gordon, Toronto Star

Immigration Minister Joe Volpe insists he stayed out of efforts to convince a Conservative MP to abstain from a key budget vote. In the latest twist to the controversy swirling around a private chat between Tory MP Gurmant Grewal (Newton-North Delta) and Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff, Volpe said yesterday he couldn't go along with an apparent request from Grewal.

Volpe said he distanced himself from the recruitment effort after being told Grewal wanted him to halt an RCMP probe of his activities.

Earlier this month, Volpe asked the RCMP and the federal ethics commissioner to examine accusations that Grewal and another Tory MP improperly sought money from people seeking admission to Canada.

Volpe said he was adamant he wouldn't interfere with the RCMP investigation in return for Grewal's help in the vote.

The talks last week were aimed at getting Grewal to abstain from a vote last Thursday that could have toppled the minority government of Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin. Grewal secretly taped the talks. He voted against the government, which survived the non-confidence vote on a tie-breaker from Speaker Peter Milliken.

Grewal says he was offered possible patronage appointments in return for helping to prop up the government.

The government countercharged that his key demand was an end to the RCMP probe.

"I wasn't part of the conversation between Mr. Murphy and Mr. Grewal, but ... I was alerted to a conversation and that Mr. Grewal was making a series of requests," the minister said after a speech at the University of Toronto.

In an excerpt of a taped conversation released by Grewal, Murphy says, "I will talk to Volpe and get something happening," and later Murphy adds, "I have talked to Volpe already." To which Grewal replies: "Is he manageable?" "Yes," says Murphy.

Senior Liberals have said Murphy was simply referring to the possibility of an apology from Volpe for attacks against Grewal in the Commons.

But those explanations hold no truck with the Conservatives.

Tory spokesman Geoff Norquay said Murphy still must account for why it is he appeared to be engaged in negotiations with Grewal, who secretly taped the conversation and has released portions of it.

"It's still for Tim Murphy to explain what he meant by the reference to Mr. Volpe in the conversation," he said.

Yesterday, Volpe said he indicated misgivings to Murphy about Grewal.

"(Murphy) was very objective. He didn't suggest that anything be done and I said to him: 'Well, you know, good luck for you if you're going to have a conversation with him,'" he said, adding Martin's chief of staff agreed that "none of us would ever go in that direction" by doing anything untoward.

"And I said: 'Good, then we're all on the same page.'"

Grewal, who was travelling to New Brunswick and could not be reached yesterday, said he spoke at length with Murphy and was offered a diplomatic post for himself and a Senate seat for his wife, Nina, also a Tory MP, in exchange for skipping last week's budget vote.

The Tories also confirmed yesterday they have hired a translator to sift through several hours of previously unreleased tapes to provide a transcript of other discussions between Grewal and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh that took place in Punjabi.

The transcript will likely not be completed until the end of the week. The Tories say they will hand over the tapes and transcripts to "appropriate authorities" but have not said whether they will be made public.

Dosanjh insists Grewal approached him through a mutual friend - an account the person in question supports - while Grewal maintains Dosanjh sought him out.

May 26 (Ottawa Sun): LIBERAL BROKER: GREWAL 'USED ME'

Copyright 2005 Sun Media Corporation
The Ottawa Sun
May 20, 2005 Friday
FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 4

LENGTH: 312 words

HEADLINE: LIBERAL BROKER: GREWAL 'USED ME'

BYLINE: BY KATHLEEN HARRIS, PARLIAMENTARY BUREAU

BODY:


The middleman who claims he was enlisted by Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal to facilitate his defection to the Liberals feels "used" by his friend.

Sudesh Kalia accused Grewal of making "false" statements about how senior Liberals courted him to cross the floor in exchange for plum cabinet and Senate positions for himself and his MP wife, Nina.

"He used me, and if he had planned that, he's not my friend then," Kalia, a B.C. businessman and longtime pal of Grewal, told the Sun.

According to Kalia, Grewal called him out of the blue Sunday. Grewal said rumours about him being offered a Senate seat were false, but later indicated he'd be interested in joining the Grits.

"He said 'I will consider it if they accept my demands,' " Kalia said. "He gave me demands."

Kalia, a provincial and federal Liberal who is also a personal friend of Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, offered to arrange a meeting with the minister. Grewal accepted and they met Monday, but Dosanjh vehemently denied making any offers.

NO PROMISES

Late Wednesday, Grewal released an eight-minute excerpt of a taped conversation with Tim Murphy, the PM's chief of staff. While Murphy makes no offers or promises of favours in exchange for abstaining on the budget vote, he implies there could be future discussions about appointments.

"I think it's a bad idea, truthfully, to have any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade," Murphy said on tape.

Yesterday, the Tories refused to immediately release the tapes in their entirety, including conversation in Punjabi between Grewal and Dosanjh.

Tory spokesman Geoff Norquay said some of the audiotape will take time to be translated, and that he felt it important to get the most "useful" part out immediately.

Norquay insisted Grewal was approached by the Grits, not the other way around. "He didn't initiate the process, period."

kathleen.harris@tor.sunpub.com

May 26: CTV: Grewal on English language course in late May 2005

CTV Television, Inc.
SHOW: COUNTDOWN
May 26, 2005, Thursday 20:00:00 - 21:00:00 Eastern Time
LENGTH: 454 words

HEADLINE: Countdown's Insider

ANCHOR: MIKE DUFFY

MIKE DUFFY: Just finish that burger, oh, no, what am I saying. Our
Ottawa insider, speaking of burgers, we're talking steak here, the lovely and
talented Jane Taber is back at her usual spot at Hy's Steakhouse in Ottawa
with her unique perspective on what's going on behind the scenes on
Parliament Hill. Here's Jane. Jane the Prime Minister seemed to have the wind
in his sails when he was addressing the Canadian Club and the Empire Club
here in Toronto today, and I actually had a call from a Liberal MP who said we
have got our mojo back and we're actually going to go after Gurmant Grewal
and perhaps see if he couldn't be charged with soliciting a benefit on that
whole business of taping in terms of trading for votes and so on. So it sounds
to me like the Liberals have their confidence back and are on the attack and
they want to make Mr. Grewal a target.

JANE TABER [Countdown's Insider]: Well it's going to be an ugly story. In
fact, I was talking to John Reynolds, of course a veteran Tory MP, today, Mike,
just as he was boarding a ferry to go to Vancouver, and he was telling me that
they're not letting up on this Grewal story at all. In fact the party has hired a
top-notch lawyer in Vancouver who is a Punjabi Canadian, and he won't give
me her name, but she is advising the Grewals on this as well as the party on
how to proceed. And of course those tapes now are being translated, or
transcribed and translated. It takes a long time. Four hours of tape, Mike, some
of it in Punjabi and other, parts of it in English.

DUFFY: The Tories obviously sense that the Liberals are going to get into this
in a big way. We've seen the Prime Minister's office in the past, they've been
quite litigious, throwing lawsuits at journalists and others and now, from what
you tell me, the Tories expect some kind of legal assault from the Liberals
against them on the issue of these tapes.

TABER: I think so. They're getting their ducks in order on this one Mike in
anticipation of the House of course coming back next week. The other thing
that Mr. Reynolds told me, is that Mr. Grewal has not gone missing. He's
actually in New Brunswick on language training. He's brushing up on his English
pronunciation at a government school in New Brunswick. So that's where he
is this week.

DUFFY: Most of the time people go to the language school to learn French,
but I guess in this case if you're going to communicate you have to make sure
you speak clearly.

TABER: Exactly.

DUFFY: Great to talk to you, Jane. Glad to see the crowd there. Cobb salad
is my favourite, remember.

TABER: We know that.

DUFFY: Take care, see you tomorrow night.

TABER: Thanks, Mike.

May 26, 2005: The Now News: Reports Grewal just wants "To Move On"...

MP Grewal wants to 'move on' from bribe accusations

Ted Colley

Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal said Tuesday he's ready to move on after accusing the Liberals of trying to bribe him into propping up the sagging minority government of Prime Minister Paul Martin.

It's against the law to offer a bribe to a member of parliament; it is also a crime for an MP to accept a bribe.

"The point I wanted to make has been made and it's time for me to move on to other things," the MP for Newton-North Delta said Tuesday.

"It's time to leave it to the experts."

Grewal claims both he and his wife Nina, also an MP, were offered plum appointments by the Liberals in exchange for supporting Martin's beleaguered government.

Grewal says he surreptitiously recorded several hours of conversations with Martin's chief of staff, Tim Murphy, and with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh. According to Grewal, the recordings show the Liberals approached him with offers of senate and diplomatic appointments in an attempt to gain the couple's support in a crucial vote in the Commons last week.

The Liberals countered by saying Grewal came to them wanting to swap votes for help with inquiries into his practice of asking constituents to sign financial guarantees before he would endorse visitor visa applications for family members abroad.

Grewal said asking relatives to put up the $50,000 guarantees was only a device used to weed out unreliable applicants who might not go home when their visas expired and said he never received any cash.

When he found out what Grewal was doing, Immigration Minister Joe Volpe asked both the ethics commissioner and the RCMP to investigate. Late last week, a staffer in Volpe's office said Grewal had approached the Liberals offering support if those investigations were made to go away, a charge the Conservative denied.

Both the Bloc Quebecois and the national NDP say they want ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro to look into Grewal's allegations, but as the Now went to press Tuesday, nobody had filed the paperwork.

"We haven't received anything yet," said Jonathan Choquette of the commissioner's office.

Nor has the Conservative Party itself, or its leader Stephen Harper, demanded an inquiry. Asked why, Grewal thought it was because of the long weekend and the preoccupation of Harper and the party with an Atlantic Canada byelection.

"Mr. Harper was in Labrador, then heading back to Calgary," Grewal said.

"I can't speak for him, but perhaps there was too much going on at one time. I believe in due course, you will hear something from him."

The Conservative communications office did not return calls before the Now's press deadline.

posted on 05/25/2005