Thursday, August 04, 2005

Aug. 4. 2005: Winnipeg Sun satire

Winnipeg Sun (Manitoba)
August 4, 2005 Thursday

LENGTH: 537 words

Gurmant Grewal's assistant, a large man by the name of Benjamin Farnsby, introduced me to the controversial MP and then left us alone in the hotel room. I shook hands with Grewal, and we sat down at a small table.

"Ie-k, do, iqMn ... " Grewal said in a low voice.

"Sorry?" I said.

"Did you bring a tape recorder?" he said.

"Er ... Yes, I did."

"Uh-huh. Lucky I asked, eh?"

"It's standard equipment for an interview."

"Lemme see it."

"OK," I said. "I was just about to put it on the table."

"Sure you were," he said. I gave him the tape recorder. "It's very small," he said. "Small enough to fit right into your pocket, where it can't be seen."

"Well, the big, 125-pound, war-surplus two-reeler I usually lug around with me is in the shop right now," I said, "along with the Enigma machine I use to keep the competition from stealing the stories I file."

"Now you're being a wise guy," he said.

"I take them to interviews in a suitcase and tell everybody I'm going for an accordion lesson after we're finished. That way the suckers don't know I'm secretly recording them."

"Funny you should mention Enigma." Grewal said. "I told Stephen we should use those machines for secret party communications. If they worked for the Germans, they should work for us."

"They didn't work for the Germans," I said. "The British broke the code."

"Yes, but I doubt they handed it over to the Liberals."

"Does Stephen Harper still talk to you?" I said. Grewal smiled and fingered his tie clip.

"Let's just say that things have been said which allowed me to persuade Stephen how indispensable I am to the party," he said.

"Why are you wearing that tie clip?" I asked. Grewal laced his fingers together over the tie clip and sat back in his chair, pretending to relax.

"Tie clip?" he said.

"Yeah, the one you just hid under your hands."

He smiled and shrugged. "Why does anyone wear a tie clip?" he said.

"To hold down his tie."

"Well, then."

"You're not wearing a tie."

He didn't move. "Yes, I am," he said.

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"No, you're not. Are you wired?"

"Of course not," he said. "Dammit, Farnsby," he muttered, "you forgot the tie."

"Farnsby? You're talking to Farnsby? He's not even in the room."

"Oh ... right ... "

"Put that tie clip on the table," I said. Grewal took the tie clip off his shirt and put it on the table. I took off one of my shoes and smashed it down on the tie clip. There was a bellow of pain from outside the room, and Farnsby came crashing through the door, a set of earphones dangling around his neck.

"That's it, Grewal," he shouted. "No more tapes. No more recordings. I don't care what you have on that Harper tape about how much he hates making small talk with 'those bloody barbecue bozos,' I'm through, finished -- ".

Grewal held up his hand and smiled at Farnsby. "Ben, Ben," he said. "Have you forgotten about your ill-advised tete-a-tete with Carolyn Parrish?" Farnsby raised a shaking fist, opened and closed his mouth soundlessly and then turned abruptly and left the room, slamming the door behind him.

"Now, Mr. Swakhammer," said Grewal, "shall we continue with the interview?" He leaned forward, fiddling with the top button on his shirt. "Only, I wonder if you could speak a little louder. My hearing isn't as good as it used to be."

NOTES: Winnipeg Sun ace investigative reporter Emile Swakhammer has filed this exclusive interview with B.C. Conservative MP Gurmant (Tape Worm) Grewal ...

For a discussion of this and other stories related to Gurmant Grewal, his tapes, and other scandals follow this link.

August 4, 2005: G&M: Tories lose bid to rein in MP over Grewal

Tories lose bid to rein in MP over Grewal
B.C. member won't retract comments about colleague's 'antics,' sources say
Thursday, August 4, 2005 Page A10
OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF; With a report from Gloria Galloway

The Conservative Party leadership tried and failed to extract a retraction from one of their B.C. MPs, who said recently that the "antics" of controversial MP Gurmant Grewal are hurting the party.

Sources said that John Cummins, MP for the riding of Delta-Richmond East, was asked by party Whip Rob Nicholson to sign a statement renouncing comments he made in a radio interview last month, in which he said Mr. Grewal's "antics have hurt the party." Mr. Cummins told Mr. Nicholson that he would not sign the retraction, the sources said.

In a brief interview, Mr. Cummins would neither confirm nor deny he was asked to retract his remarks, saying the issue was two weeks in the past. Mr. Nicholson also would not comment.

However, the issue will almost certainly come up for discussion at today's Tory summer caucus meeting in Toronto.

Although no other Tory MPs have spoken against Mr. Grewal in the controversy over tapes he made of discussions with senior Liberals about crossing the floor, some, such as deputy leader Peter MacKay, refused to support him on the matter.

The Grewal controversy has bubbled beneath the surface since the member for Newton-North Delta secretly taped two senior Liberals -- Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Paul Martin's chief of staff, Tim Murphy -- during discussions to get him to cross to their side of the House.

Last week, Mr. Grewal admitted in a written statement that Stephen Harper told him to stop taping talks with senior Liberals about leaving the Tories, a demand that was apparently made before Mr. Grewal's taped meeting with the senior Liberals.

Mr. Harper has not commented on the matter, but the party leaders continue to be sensitive about it, seeking the retraction from Mr. Cummins and, most recently, asking Mr. Grewal for public clarification of statements about the taping that he made to a newspaper in his riding.

One MP told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Harper's defence of Mr. Grewal has harmed the party's efforts to criticize the Liberals for ethical lapses.

"If you don't deal with it, it makes it much more difficult for you to turn around and criticize the government for its actions. And I think that's the issue," the MP said. "If Grewal was a minister they'd be going after him like there was no tomorrow."

But Peter Van Loan, a Conservative MP from Ontario, said that he does not believe Canadians are focused on the Grewal saga.

"I have spoken to literally thousands of people, and I don't think Mr. Grewal's name has come up once," said Mr. Van Loan, who has been going door to door in his York-Simcoe riding since the Commons broke for the summer.

He said most of the discussion at today's meeting is likely to centre on ways to communicate party policy before the coming election. "I think there's an increasing curiosity and appetite to hear what we would like to do in government."

The Conservatives continue to trail the Liberals in most opinion polls by about 10 percentage points. Those trends are also reflected in the voting intentions in British Columbia, a key part of the Tories' western stronghold, although polling experts said the sample sizes in most of those polls are too small to count on.

Tim Woolstencroft, managing partner of polling firm the Strategic Counsel, said the increasing popularity of the New Democrats may be eating into Tory support.

He added that the Tories may find themselves having to spend more time in B.C. in the next campaign than they would like. To win the election, Mr. Harper must expand the party's popularity in Ontario, an increasingly difficult prospect if he is obliged to protect the party's heartland seats in B.C.

For a discussion of this and other stories related to Gurmant Grewal, his tapes, and other scandals follow this link.