Thursday, June 09, 2005

June 9, 2005: Edmonton Journal Reports "Opposition MPs Want 'The Truth'"

Opposition MPs want 'the truth'
Edmonton Journal
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Page: A7
Section: News
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: CanWest News Service

OTTAWA - Opposition parties turned their guns on Prime Minister Paul Martin Wednesday, demanding to know what role he played in the taping scandal that has engulfed a cabinet minister and his closest advisor, and why he did not intervene if suspected criminal and ethical breaches occurred.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe has asked the RCMP to decide if Martin was negligent in not making a complaint against Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal if, as the Liberals assert, he was looking to sell his vote for government postings for he and his wife, fellow Tory MP Nina Grewal.

"The implication of that is when you're giving an order to someone like your chief of staff to negotiate with someone ready to commit a criminal infraction, I think it's something like complicity," Duceppe said after question period.

Grewal, along with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, are already under investigation by Parliament's Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro.

The NDP said Wednesday they'll ask Shapiro to rethink his ruling that Murphy falls outside the reach of his mandate because he isn't an elected official. If that bid fails, the NDP will immediately ask Shapiro to investigate Martin himself in order to get at his top aide.

"We don't intend to take our eye off the ultimate objective here, which is to find out the truth," said NDP Leader Jack Layton.

June 9, 2005 Edmonton Journal Reports: Harper's Confidence Takes a Hit

Harper's confidence takes a hit
Edmonton Journal
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Page: A7
Section: News
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The man who vowed to put Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government "out of its misery" a month ago sounded far less confident Wednesday amid renewed speculation about a snap election.

From full battle cry, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has retreated to politely asking his MPs to "fulfil their parliamentary responsibilities" when it comes to next week's budget vote.

"This government can't be defeated unless people who are elected as Liberals decide to defeat it," he said Wednesday following a national caucus meeting.

The prospect of Liberals sabotaging Martin's budget because of their opposition to same-sex marriage legislation was briefly aired this week.

"There's no point in me urging people (to vote against the government) who are not in my caucus," Harper joked. "I have, some days, enough trouble urging those who are in my caucus."

With seasoned communications staff leaving for greener pastures, internal grumbling over the Gurmant Grewal debacle and a poll showing Conservative support sinking nationally, Harper has his own miseries.

June 9, 2005: CPC MP Kenney Claims Conclusive Proof That Clips/Recordings Are Not Altered

JUNE 9th. Jason Kenney announces that their expert has conclusive stated that the clips/recordings he has heard are not altered. (Press Release doesn't actually appear on the CPC website, nor is it on CPC letterhead, it is leaked by somebody to Neale News) CPC expert R.Dash, who last week claimed, along with 4 other indipendent experts that the tapes were altered... now, according to press release says they are "clean"

Here is the news release as published at Neale News:
Jason Kenney, MP
Opposition Deputy House Leader
Calgary Southeast
June 9, 2005

News Release

Original Murphy/Dosanjh recordings clean and unaltered: expert

OTTAWA – Conservative Deputy House Leader Jason Kenney today released a letter to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper from Randy Dash, Senior Editor and Manager of Operations of dMAX Media in Ottawa. The letter summarizes Mr. Dash’s analysis of copies of original recordings supplied by Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal.

“Mr. Dash’s analysis of the recordings shows that they are clean and unaltered,” Kenney said. “These recordings speak for themselves. Now, it’s time for Paul Martin, Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy to begin answering the questions about their involvement in offering rewards to members of parliament in exchange for their votes. To this day, there has been no information produced by any of these individuals to dispute the facts on these recordings.”

Kenney pointed out that Mr. Dash, a professional audio engineer specializing in post-production work, is the only expert thus far to have examined copies of the original recordings, and invited others to do the same. “There has been a lot of conjecture about the authenticity of the recordings,” Kenney said. “None of this speculation is based upon fact, and would indicate that those speculating have not taken the time to listen to or examine the entire recordings, which are publicly available.”

June 9, 2005: Edmonton Journal: Nina Embattled, Has Support of Female Collegues

B.C.'s 'quiet' MP Nina Grewal keeps low profile: Wife of embattled Tory MP has support of female colleagues
Edmonton Journal
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Page: A7
Section: News
Byline: Joe Paraskevas
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: CanWest News Service; with files from The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The men left through the front door after the Conservative party's caucus meeting Wednesday, the women left through the back.

It isn't completely unheard of, some MPs said, for female party members to make such a departure, avoiding reporters waiting outside the doors on Parliament Hill.

But the reason for the detour Wednesday was special: to show support for British Columbia MP Nina Grewal.

"We left together," Ontario Tory MP Diane Finley said, afterward. "We're solidly with Nina."

"It's just natural," added Saskatchewan MP Carol Skelton, when asked about the party's show of confidence. "She's a female, she's a member of our caucus. She's a wonderful lady."

Grewal, however, was well out of hearing range.

Rare is the backbench politician who will shy from a reporter brandishing a microphone or notebook, but Grewal is setting new standards for keeping a low profile. She has successfully avoided most media attempts to have her comment on her involvement in the Hill's latest partisan tussle.

Three weeks ago, Grewal's husband, Gurmant, a Conservative MP from a Vancouver-area riding, revealed he'd taped conversations with two senior Liberals. He alleged the pair offered him and his wife political rewards for helping the minority Liberal government survive a confidence vote in the House of Commons.

The Conservatives later released tapes of conversations involving Grewal, Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, chief of staff to Prime Minister Paul Martin, and the RCMP began to look into the matter.

But several audio experts quickly determined the tapes had been altered in some way. Moreover, Gurmant Grewal became the subject of two other investigations -- by Air Canada and Transport Canada -- after he was seen in Vancouver trying to pass a package to passengers boarding an Ottawa-bound flight.

Grewal asked for, and received, permission Monday from his party to go on paid stress leave.

In the clamour of the debate between the three men at the centre of the taping drama, Nina Grewal has remained silent.

When one reporter approached her this week, she would only say she wasn't part of the negotiations involving her husband. While her husband is clearly heard on tape talking about an appointment to the Senate for her, Nina Grewal said that "nobody approached me, I wasn't part of any negotiations."

Her husband in the tapes claimed to have consulted her about switching parties, saying "but we are not decided, we have not made up our minds yet."

She said she had no comment when asked how she felt about her husband using her as a bargaining chip.

The Grewals are the first husband-wife team of MPs in Canadian history.

Despite her husband's withdrawal from the political scene, which came after a tense meeting with Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, she said her husband is feeling fine.

"He's in high spirits," she said. "We're both still fighting for the right cause," she told the Toronto Star.

On Wednesday, Nina Grewal entered the Conservative caucus meeting room quietly, via the back door, 20 minutes before the meeting was to begin.

This time she said absolutely nothing, leaving an aide to say there would be no comment to media questions. Later, after question period, she slipped away out of reach of cameras.

Some Conservative MPs turned on reporters for their pursuit of Grewal and for perceived suggestions she played a role equal to her husband's in the taping affair.

"They just assume that because he's her husband she was complicit," said Alberta MP Rona Ambrose. "It's a bit sexist really."

At least one MP from another party urged her to break her silence.

"I actually would tell her to stand up and tell her story," said NDP MP Jean Crowder, who serves with Grewal on the House committee on the status of women. "I think that one of the things I hear from Canadians is they want to hear what you've done. And if you've been wrong -- and I'm not suggesting that she has -- it also gives you an opportunity to say 'I erred in judgment,' if that's the case.

"But I think it's really important that her voice, talking about her story, is front and centre."

Liberal MP Anita Neville also said she wouldn't advise Grewal on whether to speak about the tapes. Grewal, a rookie MP, was "learning her way around Parliament," and seemed a naturally reserved person, said Neville.

"She's quiet. She's quiet and conscientious on committee. But for the most part she's quiet," Neville said.

Jun 9, 2005 Senior CPC Staffers Bail Out


June 9, 2005
Senior staffers bail out
By MARIA McCLINTOCK, Parliamentary Bureau

A pair of senior communications staffers in Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's office have jumped ship and insiders tell Sun Media more may follow as internal trouble simmering for weeks becomes public.

Insiders told Sun Media a group of Tory senators visited Harper in the days before the May 19 confidence vote and urged him to bring in a "pro" to oversee the transition should they succeed in toppling Martin and forming government.

Nothing ever happened as a result.

That meeting, confirmed by several insiders, appeared to be the turning point for staffers.


Sources said Harper's chief of staff Phil Murphy is on the hit list, in favour of Doug Finley who was recently brought in as the deputy chief of staff.

Director of communications Geoff Norquay yesterday denied rumours he's about to go as well.

Last week the party's veteran communications man Jim Armour, with longtime ties to the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties, announced he was leaving to take a job with the Canadian Medical Association.

Days later communications staffer Mike Storshaw announced he's leaving to take a job with Ottawa lobby firm Bluesky Strategy Group. Both Armour and Storshaw deny they were pushed out of the inner circle.

Party insiders said Storshaw was told about two weeks ago he was no longer welcome at daily communications meetings with Harper, although he continues to perform those duties until he leaves for his new job.

Jun 9, 2005: Province Reports: Grewal Accused of Immigration Violations

MP accused of citizenship deal: Grewal allegedly bought carpet-store shares
The Province
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Camille Bains

Embattled Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal obtained his Canadian citizenship by pretending he was a business entrepreneur, alleges a man who said he participated in the scheme.

Gurwinder Dhillon said yesterday that Grewal was a carpet salesman at his company when the MP bought $50,000 in shares on April 15, 1993, but that Grewal sold them back the next day in what he said amounted to a phoney transaction. Dhillon said he wrote a cheque back to Grewal's lawyer.

Grewal came to Canada in 1991 from Liberia and hoped to become a Canadian citizen by establishing himself as an entrepreneur who would start up his own business, Dhillon said.

At that time, Citizenship and Immigration required prospective entrepreneurial immigrants to manage a business that would be set up within two years and provide employment opportunities.

The alleged deal with Dhillon would be aimed at satisfying those requirements.

Grewal wasn't available for comment after calls to his constituency and parliamentary offices, but Carolyn Stewart-Olsen, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's press secretary, said there was nothing to the allegation.

"This is an old allegation and we're assured it has no basis in fact," Stewart-Olsen said in Ottawa.

Dhillon said he kept the alleged citizenship deal with Grewal to himself until last year, when Grewal's wife was nominated for the Tories. At the time, he said he felt he had to come forward and called mainstream media in Vancouver, but the story didn't gain attention.

The latest news involving Grewal had listeners clogging phone lines at Punjabi radio talk shows yesterday, with callers saying Grewal's political career is finished.

Harjinder Thind, host of an open-line talk show at Sher-e Punjab, said Dhillon called his program, further igniting an already hot topic.

"We had almost two hours of callers," Thind said. "Every caller, one after another, is upset."

Thind said 99 per cent of callers were against Grewal.

Callers were also critical of Dosanjh for appearing in the taped conversations to be making a deal with Grewal to join the Liberal Party before the crucial vote on the budget, Thind said.

But Grewal is getting the most criticism, he said.

"It's such a big thing that nobody's talking about anything else."