Tuesday, May 31, 2005

May 31, 2005: Edmonton Journal: Tories Backing Off Confidence Votes...

Tories backing off confidence votes: Exhausted MPs skip question period
Edmonton Journal
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Page: A7
Section: News
Byline: Anne Dawson
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: CanWest News Service CanWest News Service

OTTAWA - Attempts to topple the Liberal government this spring have been abandoned as opposition parties conceded Monday they cannot continue the high-stakes brinkmanship they have practised in recent weeks.

After a month of high drama on Parliament Hill ended in failure two weeks ago for the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois when they lost a vote of confidence on the budget, the House of Commons on Monday was a wasteland of exhausted MPs, some 80 of whom did not even bother to show up for work.

In fact, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper ducked out of question period after he asked his first round of questions, about 10 minutes after it started, and was not seen again.

"We're prepared to have an election if the government tries to jab through things that we think would damage the public. But ... I'm not going to tell you that we're running out there looking to push a confidence motion to have an election. You can't take the country to the brink every week and be perceived to be responsible," said Tory MP Monte Solberg.

In explaining the poor attendance and lack of energy in the Commons, Solberg said it is usual that on "Mondays, people are pretty tired typically coming in (from their ridings to Ottawa), but insisted everyone will get "fired up" in the coming weeks.

Although the official Opposition has its first opportunity to defeat the minority government today in what is called an opposition day, which allows the opposition to set the agenda, Conservative House leader Jay Hill announced his party will bring forward a motion to expand the mandate of the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal, instead.

With Gomery scheduled to report his findings by the end of the year, it is highly unlikely the Liberals would change the entire mandate of the inquiry to allow the judge to press criminal charges, as requested by the opposition. As well, the vote is not a confidence matter, which means even if the government loses the vote on the motion, it is not bound to act.

During Monday's question period, NDP Leader Jack Layton and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe also hammered away at the government over the suspicious taped recording of backroom negotiations between the prime minister's chief of staff, Tim Murphy, and B.C. Tory MP Gurmant Grewal.

They have called for an RCMP investigation into the taped conversations, in which the two men were negotiating the future possibility of a plum posting for Grewal and his wife, Tory MP Nina Grewal, in exchange for their support on the budget.

Although it has been almost two weeks since Grewal came forward to accuse the Liberals of attempting to bribe him with a diplomatic post, the Conservatives have yet to release the entire transcript of the tapes.

May 31 2005: CP Reports: Tapes Say PM Was Ready To Talk Deal...

Tapes show PM ready to talk deal: CTV: Grewal offered gov't post, broadcaster says
Edmonton Journal
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Page: A5
Section: News
Dateline: TORONTO
Source: The Canadian Press

TORONTO - Prime Minister Paul Martin was ready to talk with a Conservative MP about defecting just before the crucial budget vote, taped conversations between senior Liberals and the Tory show, CTV News reported Monday.

The four-hour tape also shows that Gurmant Grewal was offered a government position within two weeks of the vote, CTV said. Only a short segment of the tape has been made public.

Martin has denied that an offer was made to entice Grewal and his wife Nina, who is an MP, to defect or abstain from the vote.

"No offer was made -- that means no offer was made," the prime minister has told the House of Commons.

Officials with the Prime Minister's Office could not be reached for comment on Monday night.

The bulk of Grewal's secretly taped conversations with Tim Murphy, Martin's top aide, and Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh may be released today, the CTV said.

The Liberals survived the budget vote, in part, because Tory Belinda Stronach agreed to cross the floor of the Commons and become a cabinet minister.

Conservative House Leader Jay Hill has said the party will be turning the tapes over to the RCMP soon.

Grewal has said he was offered an ambassadorship and his wife , a Senate appointment, if they would abstain from the budget confidence vote. Grewal has said he never intended to accept any offers, but was trying to gather evidence.

The Liberals, in turn, have said the Tory called them.

Ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro may also announce today whether he will conduct an investigation into the allegations of Liberal deal-making.

The NDP and Bloc have called for a RCMP investigation.

May 31 2005: CBC Reports: Grewal Releases Secret Tapes

The Conservatives release translated transcripts of hours of tapes between Grewal and senior Liberals and say the tapes will be turned over to the RCMP. Dosanjh issues a statement, saying, "It is clear to me that the recordings have been altered." Prime Minister Paul Martin also questions the tapes' authenticity.
CBC STORY: Grewal releases secret tapes

May 31, 2005. Grewal tapes mounted at Grewal website

From May 31, 2005, the Grewal tapes were mounted at this site, http://www.gurmantgrewal.ca/audio.asp, which looked like this:


May 31 2005: 1st Edition/version of Grewal Tapes are finally released

Buckets Reports: Here

As was noted above, the Conservatives have released the Grewal tapes here, where there are four MP3s (and accompanying transcripts) of a number of conversations:
  1. SK tel.mp3 (8 minutes, 26 seconds)
  2. tm-ud meeting.mp3 (40 minutes, 30 seconds)
  3. tel ud tm.mp3 (21 minutes, 45 seconds)
  4. tm meeting.mp3 (3 minutes, 59 seconds)
All together this comes to about 1 hour and 15 minutes of conversations. All the reports, however, were of four (4) hours of tapes.

Are there other tapes? Where are they?

May 31 2005, Bucket's Reports: CPC Leaking Drips and Drabs of Tape Recordings To Specially Selected Journalists

Who is leaking Grewal's tape?
CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reports two new facts about the Grewal tapes: (1) that Martin knew of the discussion, and (2) that Grewal would get a reward within two weeks of crossing.

[A further point. It is also being reported (not in the link above) that Fife is saying the tapes might be released today. Since only the Conservatives will know when they will release the tapes, this fact can only come from the Conservatives.]

This, however, is surely intolerable. They have had the tapes for a week and have so far surrendered them neither to the RCMP or to Parliament's ethics commissioner. Only eight minutes of four hours have been released. And now they are surreptiously leaking selected details to the press?