Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Also missing: tape of pizza with Ujjal?

Very early in the reportage of the Grewal affair was an admission by Ujjal Dosanjh that Grewal and he met for pizza and discussed Grewal's potential floor-crossing. In two of the recorded phone conversations with Kalia (the fifth and sixth on the transcript), the date is arranged and confirmed: 8 pm on Monday, May 16th.

No recording or transcript of the pizza date has been released. The next transcripts come from 1 pm on Tuesday, May 17th.

So, here is the question. Was the pizza date recorded? If so, why were the tapes not released? If not, why not?

Grewal's Blackberry call log incomplete?

On the final page of the transcripts of six calls with Sadesh Kalia is 'Call log on GG's Blackberry', which begins thus:
16 May 12:37 PM Missed call from SK
16 May 1:02 PM Missed call from SK
16 May 1:13 PM Missed call from SK
16 May 1:37 PM Missed call from SK
16 May 2:49 PM Received call from SK
Which call is this from the transcripts?

It can't be Call 1, since this was made the night before, on Sunday.

It also can't be Call 2. The call begins with the complaint that Dosanjh had called him early (6 am, which would be 9 am Ottawa). Also in the course of Call 2, Grewal mentions that he is on the way to Question Period. From Hansard we know that Question Period started just after 2:15 pm.

It also can't be Call 3, which gives its time as 9:04 am (Vancouver time? = 12:04 in Ottawa), which is before the first call listed in the log.

Does this mean that the call log is incomplete? There were two calls that clearly took place before the log begins, and those calls seem to assume the existence of earlier calls. What gives?

Tape 1: conversations with Sudesh Kalia

To download, go http://www.gurmantgrewal.ca/audio.asp. I'm assuming that this is a translation, because it is not easy to read or understand what the issues are. The reader should also be aware that the transcript is prepared by the Conservatives, presumably with a view to make things as positive as possible for their side.

There is as far as I can see no deal, and although these are the earliest of the released conversations, it is clear that there were other conversations before this, since the opening line is
Ujjal Dosanjh called and asked me if I have spolen to you (GG). I said I have talked to him and explained our discussion.
.A few lines later, Grewal asks what's being offered:
so what is her offering—for one is it Senate and what's for the other.
(I assume there should be a question mark here--these transcripts have not been very well edited.) The answer:
No no, not like this, the procedure is that now it will be a hand-shake and later slowly in a month or two it will be done
At least from this, it would seem that Grewal is asking for a senate seat and something else and Kalia (the Liberal go-between) is telling him that there is no categorical offer.
Grewal: they may not betray this. (Ed.: that is, may not come through with what GG wants? or may go public about the negotiation with Grewal?)
Another problem. The last page of the transcript lists the calls coming into Grewal's Blackberry. There are 11 received calls from Kalia to Grewal listed (and an equal number of missed calls.) The released version of the calls gives transcripts for only 6 calls. Also, the blackberry list begins on Monday the 16th. But the first call (mentioned above) is said to have come from Sunday the 16th (I assume that '16th' is an error in the transcript and the 15th is meant). But there were exchanges even before that (see above).

So, for those who want to know who approached whom, these tapes are of no use.

Outstanding questions:
  1. Are there tapes of earlier conversations?
  2. If there are, why haven't they been released
  3. If there are not, does this imply that Grewal only decided mid-way into the negotiation to tape conversations?

Observation 1: the Volpe angle

After a quick read of the transcripts, it's pretty clear that the suggestion that Grewal had asked the Liberals to interfere with an RCMP investigation of Grewal's dealings with immigrants is wrong. In several places in the transcripts, Grewal demands that Volpe make some kind of public apology.

Are there other tapes?

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?

Guest post (Mike) on Grewal tapes

From the comments, Mike (from Rational Reasons) says:
I've only looked over it quickly but here's my pet theory:

Grewal approached the Liberals and offered his "services" in exhange for Volpe backing down. From this: http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/05/19/grewel-050519.html its pretty clear he approached the Liberals.

Of course, the Libs, fresh off of getting Ms. Stronach, may have implied they might offer more, as icing on the cake. Or maybe Grewal made the implication. We may not know since these are not all of the tapes, apparently (at least not the begining or the end, according to CBC). The tapes seem to show Murphy saying "no thanks, we'll see how you vote." I guess they didn't trust him.

Considering that he has done this exact same thing many times in the past, they probably were smart not to trust him.

I'm guessing that Grewal genuinely tried to cross and was caught by the CPC (in the wake of BS, they were probably pretty sensitive to this) and made the " I was trying to get them to break the law" claim to cover his ass with the CPC. But since he only ever really intended to use the tapes to ensure the Liberals followed through on the deal and not release them, he wasn't careful enough to make sure he didn't do anything incriminating or embarassing to himself. Hence the reason it took so long for the tapes to come out...the CPC was hoping the whole thing would blow over.

Or Grewal did this, possibly at the behest of Harper, and its a case of entrapment - he made the (possibly criminal) offer to sell his vote for a favour - either a "back off" from Volpe over his questionable scheme to sell immagration papers or a senate seat.

Either way, I think Grewal and the CPC come out worse than the Libs. I mean we EXPECT that from the Libs (and I suspect the CPC would be doing the same wheeling and dealing if the talbes were turned), but the CPC has tried to position themselves as the clean alternative.

Man, what a freaking mess. Don;t we have bills and laws to pass or something?

Conservatives release tapes

The Conservatives have released all the tapes to the RCMP and posted them on Grewal's webpage . Lots more to follow.

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.

On the first point, this is surely not surprising: Martin must have known who was in discussions and what the state of those discussions were. The second is slightly seedier, if a specific price had been agreed on, but again we'll have to wait on the specific tapes.

One point that has not been noticed, however, is nonetheless important. Where did Fife learn of these facts? Surely there are only two possibilities. This came either from the PMO or from the Conservative Party (which now has the tapes). Since this embarasses the PMO, we should probably conclude that it is the Conservatives who have leaked this.

[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?

Question Period on Grewal

Several questions were asked in Parliament yesterday about Grewal and his tapes.
  • Duceppe asked the PM to confirm that it was Murphy who was on the tape; PM answered that no deal was made.
  • Michel Guimond (BQ of Montmorency-etc.) noted that the tape records Murphy saying 'we can make an arrangement to that allows you to move' and asked the PM to acknowledge that this was a breach of s. 119 of the criminal code. Tony Valeri answered that the matter is being considered by the Parliamentary Ethics Commissioner.
  • Guimond also asked why Murphy had not resigned while the matter was investigated. PM answered that no deal was made.
  • Jack Layton asked PM why the government had not launched an RCMP investigation. PM answered that it was not the government's role to launch such an investigation. He called on Grewal to release the full takes.
It's noteworthy, I think, that it is the BQ and NDP who are pressing this issue, which has the advantage for them of being embarrassing to both the Liberals and the Conservatives. Why are the conservatives silent? If there were something really incriminating on those tapes, the Conservatives would be laying traps--getting the government to make some statement that the tapes disprove. (Gotcha!)

[ed.: slightly revised]

Monday, May 30, 2005

Grewal tapes to be surrendered Tuesday

but to the RCMP, not to the public
The transcripts could be released Tuesday. Conservative House Leader Jay Hill has said the party will be turning the tapes over to the RCMP soon.

Apparently the delay is because the Conservatives want to have a translation of Grewal's conversation with Dosanjh.

Meanwhile, there were exchanges in Parliament. During question period the Bloc grilled the Liberals about the tape (here). (It is probably significant that the Conservatives are not pushing this. They have the tapes and know their contents. Presumably it makes Grewal look worse than the Liberals.)

Socons flex their muscle

This post has been moved here.

Tories fret at socon nominees

The Toronto Star also look at the issue of social conservative nominees in the CPC.
"It doesn't really matter what the agenda is, it should concern a political party when there is an organized campaign to take over a nomination, whatever the cause or the group," said Val Meredith, a former British Columbia MP who is now a consultant and lobbyist.
"Canadians don't want their parties dominated by special interests."

Richmond BC: Riding president resigns over socon nominee

Conservative concerned with candidate

Martin van den Hemel, Staff Reporter

Efforts to elect a Conservative member of parliament for Richmond suffered a major setback Wednesday, and this could be just one of many to come.

Charles Horton, president of the Conservative constituency association, told The Richmond Review that he resigned at Wednesday’s meeting of the riding’s board of directors.

“I just don’t see the present nominee winning an election in Richmond,” Horton said. “I don’t believe the majority of people in Richmond are into the same issues he’s into.”

After calling the meeting to order, and reading the agenda, Horton read the president’s report, which was a letter explaining his decision to resign effective immediately. He then walked out, and the first vice-president, Gary Cross, took over the meeting.

“I just felt I couldn’t continue acting as president when I couldn’t put my whole support behind the nominee,” he said of social conservative nominee Darrel Reid, a Delta resident, past president of Focus on the Family Canada and one-time chief of staff to former Opposition leader Preston Manning.

Rowena Ekstrom, who sits on the board, said Horton’s departure is a “big blow” for the local efforts to have a Conservative member elected.

“There was a lot of disappointment. We were quite shocked. It’s a shame to see somebody of that calibre leave.”

And Horton’s feelings aren’t unique, judging from the conversations she’s overheard.

“I know that a couple (of board members) have intimated to me that they will be very busy and they wanted to work for someone else for a change.”

Ekstrom also believes that three of the other Conservative nomination candidates—Howard Jampolsky, Bill Majcher and Grant Smith—had a greater chance of running a successful campaign against Liberal MP of Richmond Raymond Chan.

Ekstrom said the Conservative candidates in the last few years have been a disappointment.

“The candidates that were chosen somehow or other don’t cut the mustard.”

Gary Cross is the new riding president and he said the board has not accepted Horton’s resignation and attempts will be made to woo him back.

“I’m not worried about the divisive nature of our board of directors,” Cross said. “Divisiveness in politics is nothing new.”

Asked if Horton’s departure will hurt, Cross said: “Charlie is one of the best riding presidents I’ve ever worked with. So it’s obvious it wouldn’t be a good thing for him not to be the riding president.”

Darrel Reid congratulated Horton for all of the hard work and effort he’s put into supporting the party for so many years.

But he doesn’t view Horton’s departure as a blow to his election bid.

He said all nomination meetings see this sort of thing happening, with different candidates running with various visions and views.

“I don’t think there’s anything abnormal happening here.”

Dancing with whackos

For this post about the western separatism and the Conservative party, see here

'Single-issue' candidates target nominations

The G&M has a follow-up on this weekends stories about Christian activists.

Money quote:
Christian activist groups told The Globe and Mail last week that they have made concerted -- and often successful -- efforts to win Conservative nominations for members of their faith who are willing to go to Ottawa and fight against measures such as the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. They said members of congregations were urged to take out Conservative memberships and flood meetings to ensure the candidate of their choice was elected.
If this really is an organized and concerted campaign, it is indeed newsworthy.

Buckets of career choices

Grewal gets lots of job offers. (i) In the mid-90s, for example, he claimed that he had been offered the position of honorary vice-consul of Liberia in Canada (here), something that he says never came to pass. (ii) In these same years, he claims that he was offered a job as deputy minister for stepping aside in a nomination battle (here). (iii) In 2002, he claims that Chretien offered him a cabinet post for crossing the floor (here). In this most current political fufurah, he claims he has been offered (iv) a senate seat, (v) a cabinet post, and/or (vi) a diplomatic post.

But this all raises an important question. With great offers like these, why is Gurmant still a lowly back-bencher?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Conservative MPs with perfect records

This post has been moved here.

Do socon nominees matter?

This post has been moved here.

Social Moderates who've left the CPC

While going through the data provided by Campaign Life about voting on social conservative issues it was striking how few Allliance MPs (now, of course, Conservatives) voted against the social conservative position. Here are the MPs from that list:

  1. Scott Brison, Kings-Hants.; voted against '99 and '03 marriage votes; voted for C-250, against M-83, and (subsequently) for SSM

  2. Bill Casey, North Nova.; voted against M-83

  3. Loyola Hearn, St. John's South; voted for C-250

  4. Rahim Jaffer, Edmonton-Strathcona.; voted against M-83

  5. Gerald Keddy, South Shore; voted for C-250 to include sexual orientation under hate speech; voted against M-83 to study the necessity of abortion; recently has voted for same-sex marriage

  6. Peter Mackay, Central Nova; voted for C-250; voted against M-83; voted for C-13 on reproductive technologies

  7. Inky Mark, Dauphin-etc.; voted against M-83

  8. Keith Martin, Esquimalt.; voted against M-83 (and, subsequently, for SSM)

  9. James Moore, Port Moody-etc.; voted against M-83 (and recently for ssm)
Two things about this are striking. First, that there are so few that were out-of-step with their Alliance colleagues. Second, that two of the most high profile of these--Brison and Martin--have subsequently become Liberals. So, too, with SSM. Only four Conservatives voted for the bill--Moore, Keddy, Prentice, and Stronach, one of whom has subsequently bolted to the Liberals.

So out of maybe 10 conservatives that can be identified as moderates, three have bolted the party.

Which Conservative MPs are not socons

This post has been moved here.

How often does Grewal tape conversations?

In the article cited below (here), Grewal makes an off-hand comment that is, frankly, pretty stunning. Referring to negotiations to resolve a battle for a Liberal nomination in the BC provincial election of 1995 (which Grewal claims he was bribed to give up)
Grewal then went to the media, claiming publicly Sandy Powar, the B.C. Liberal party secretary, tried prior to that meeting to bribe him by saying he could be named a deputy minister in a Campbell government if he stepped aside. Grewal said he believes he still might have a tape of that conversation.
There is surely a disturbing pattern emerging here: secret negotiations, disputed versions of the events, accusations that his opponents are lying, and the taping of conversations.

The troubling question is how many other conversations has Grewal taped?

How many evangelical-swallows make up a takeover-spring?

This post has been moved here.

Grewal's fantasy career as a Liberian diplomat

Still more weird stories. Apparently for a time Grewal claimed to be the Liberian 'honorary vice-consul' in Canada, something that he later denied. For example, here:
A reporter learned Grewal was rejected as a provincial Liberal candidate because he was supposedly not well known in the community. Grewal responded by sending out a resume that stated he "recommended to and then helped the president of Liberia to launch Green Revolution in the country."

He also claimed to be honorary vice-consul of Liberia in Canada, the Vancouver Province reported in 1997, citing a copy of the resume obtained by the newspaper in May 1995.

Grewal confirmed Friday he sought the post, but never became a Liberian representative in Canada.

The Liberian government "asked me if I would like to be vice-consul or honorary consul and they were considering it, but it never happened," he said.

Grewal wants to move on

And who can blame him?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Randy White: I don't know who to believe

Randy White, one of Grewal's colleagues in the Conservative Party is quoted as saying this week that he didn't know whether he believed Grewal (his caucus colleague) or Murphy (Chief of Staff in the PMO):
this week caucus colleague Randy White said: "I don't know who to believe" regarding the Grewal tape controversy.
That's quite an endorsement.

More Grewal!

An article in the Edmonton Journal on Grewal's allegations, including a lengthy summary of his personal history. Some snippets:

Grewal's first brush with political notoriety came during an incident in B.C. during the mid-1990s that bears remarkable similarities to his current predicament.

In 1995, Grewal decided he wanted to run as a candidate for Gordon Campbell's B.C. Liberals, who it was widely assumed would defeat the New Democratic Party government.

Grewal, with the help of political organizer Prem Vinning, signed up so many members from the Indo-Canadian community he appeared sure to secure the nomination in a riding that Campbell and his top aides wanted for Reni Masi -- the party president at the time.

An apparent truce was reached when Campbell, Vinning, Grewal, and dozens of community leaders met in Vinning's house. Grewal was photographed raising the hand of the anointed candidate.

But Grewal said he was trapped, had no idea what the meeting was about, and didn't plan on stepping aside. He soon quit the Liberal party and later ran, and lost badly, as a candidate of the former B.C. Reform party.

"I never agreed, but they held my hand and raised it up," he recollected Thursday. "There were so many people, it would really look stupid in front of people if you say no, no, I'm not withdrawing. They are making me, forcing me. ... I thought the pressure is so much around here, so I held my hand and raised it."

Grewal then went to the media, claiming publicly Sandy Powar, the B.C. Liberal party secretary, tried prior to that meeting to bribe him by saying he could be named a deputy minister in a Campbell government if he stepped aside. Grewal said he believes he still might have a tape of that conversation.

Vinning, when told about Grewal's comments, said they were "disgusting."

Running list of so-con nominees

This post has been transferred to my new blog Bouquets of Grey

Umm, what is a socon, anyway?

This post has been moved here.

Is Harper part of the flight?

Pride of lions, gaggle of geese, flight of swallows. Is Harper one of the notional evangelical swallows that we've been counting?

In one of the comments, koby points out one of Harper's speeches that should lead us to that opinion (see here: hosted by the Christian Coalition International (Canada), probably itself a sign that they think he is one of theirs).

From Harper's speech:
There is, of course, much more to be done in economic policy. We do need deeper and broader tax cuts, further reductions in debt, further deregulation and privatization, and especially the elimination of corporate subsidies and industrial-development schemes. In large measure, however, the public arguments for doing so have already been won. Conservatives have to more than modern liberals in a hurry.

The truth of the matter is that the real agenda and the defining issues have shifted from economic issues to social values, so conservatives must do the same.

Kinsella advises Harper on Socons

Kinsella sees an opportunity for Harper in the recent hubbub about creeping socons:
May 27, 2005 - What did you think of the Globe's big headline on front, Warren? "Christian activists capturing Tory races" - that one?

Well, if it's true, they're done like dinner. Stick in the proverbial fork, man.

But it's also an opportunity for Stephen Harper. Let a few more ridings get hijacked, then make a big show out of refusing to sign their nomination papers. Kick out the wackos, if need be.

Kills two birds with one stone: gets rid of a bunch of single-issue troublemakers. And gets you Ontario.

Snippets of Grewal

Andrew Coyne copies and pastes a series of opinions about the Grewal matter, some of them interesting, some of them not. Most of them either explicitly or implicitly criticizing Murphy and the PMO.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Why delay giving Grewal tapes to the RCMP?

As was noted several days ago (see, e.g., here), the Tories have committed themselves to give the Grewal tapes to the RCMP.

One paragraph in the story struck me as odd:
"We're going to hand it to the proper authorities -- I would assume it's the RCMP," the source said. "The leader's office is aware of it." He said the transfer will be made once Punjabi portions of the tape are translated, but couldn't predict a time frame.

What I don't understand is why there should be any delay at all. There have been public allegations of illegal behaviour. Why the delay? So they can make their own transcript, one might suppose from the quote. But the recordings are on two CDs. They could burn a copy to keep and give the tapes to the RCMP now, couldn't they?

Recognition at last!

Calgary grit calls Buckets of Grewal "the funniest named blog out there."

Religious Views & Politics

Idealistic pragmatist cites a very striking poll:
It brings to mind the Macleans year-end poll for 2004, which indicated that the concerns of Harper and Haynes on this issue are not misplaced. One of the questions they asked was: "Do you think political leaders should be using their religious beliefs to guide their actions at all times, sometimes, or never?" and the responses were: "At all times," 9%, "sometimes," 24%, and "never," 65%. Sixty-five percent is a pretty telling number. The truly fascinating statistic, though, was what emerged when they looked at the results from the poll responders who had already identified themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians. At that point the numbers looked more like this: "At all times," 18%, "sometimes," 30%, and "never," 49%. Nearly half of the born-again Christians sampled stated that politicians should never use their religious beliefs to guide their actions.

G&M: Christian activists capturing Conservative nominations

The Globe and Mail has an article on the recent successes of evangelicals and fundamentalists in capturing nominations. Oss Haynes, who lost a nomination fight in Halifax to one of them
"The difficulty, from a party perspective, is that it begins to hijack the other agendas that parties have," said Ross Haynes, who lost the Conservative nomination in the riding of Halifax to one of three "Christian, pro-family people" recommended by a minister at a religious rally this spring in Kentville, N.S.
The So-Cons, understandably, are unapologetic:
But Tristan Emmanuel -- the Presbyterian minister whose endorsement at the Kentville rally aided the nominations of Andrew House in Halifax, Rakesh Khosla in Halifax West and Paul Francis in Sackville-Eastern Shore -- makes no apologies.

"It's time we stopped apologizing and started defending who we are," he said. "The evangelical community in Canada, by and large, and socially conservative Catholics, are saying we have been far too heavenly minded and thus we have been of no earthly value for far too long, on too many fronts."

Mr. Emmanuel runs the Equipping Christians for the Public Square Centre, which teaches people of his faith to become political. He is reluctant to say how many adherents have obtained Conservative nominations because he is afraid the news media will portray the campaign as the infiltration of the party by "right-wing fanatics."
In the GTA, the "Defend Marriage Coalition" has been active:

Rondo Thomas beat former Conservative MP René Soetens for the nomination in Ajax, on the eastern edge of Toronto. Dr. Thomas is a top official with the Canada Christian College, which is run by Charles McVety, a senior director of the Defend Marriage Coalition.

"The Defend Marriage Coalition engaged in a concerted effort to help pro-marriage candidates become nominated," Dr. McVety said.

"There is a desire to see pro-marriage nominees as candidates right across the country. We know that we have 141 pro-marriage MPs now and our hope is to achieve a pro-marriage Parliament."

[Update: See the intelligent and balanced reaction to this story at Bene Diction Blog]

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another Tory MP claims to have been bribed to defect

Henry Scarlett, Conservative MP for Screw-Trudeau claims to have been offered an ambassadorship.

Money quote:
When asked for comment about Scarlet's allegations in the foyer of the House of Commons, an uncharacteristically pessimistic NDP leader Jack Layton was blunt: "I can't fucking believe we're still in third place in the polls. I hate this country."

Indo-Canadians upset at Surrey MP's allegations


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."

Volpe: Grewal asked that I back-off

Volpe has now commented on his role. A snippet:

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.

Volpe's statement confirms Murphy's version of events. (But that may only confirm that Liberals stick together.)

Star: Release the Tapes

Money quote:

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?

Murphy's Throw-In

As I mentioned below, I suspect that the Conservatives decided to surrender the tapes to the RCMP in order to neutralize demands for their release, which I described as 'kicking into touch' (Rugby-ese for putting the ball out of play).

I suspect that this was in response to what Murphy and his lawyers were doing. Before the Conservatives had surrendered the tapes, Murphy was threatening legal action: "Mr. Murphy has retained legal counsel and will be pursuing a libel action against Andrew Coyne of the National Post." (see here )

I wonder whether the point here was not so much to punish Coyne or indeed to silence him, but to create a circumstance in which the tapes could be subpoened?

Once the tapes are in the hands of the RCMP, does the strategy change?

Calgary Observer: Grewal's Tape and Privacy

The Calgary Observer (at the link above) asks "How would that protect a person's right to privacy? Surely, this can't be legit. If it were that easy, the police could wire-tap all sorts of conversations all the time, without having to obtain a warrant first."

The appropriate analogy in police work is not the wire-tap, but the wire. A wire-tap will record conversations between two or more parties who don't know they're being taped. By contrast, when the police put a wire on someone, the one with the wire knows.

In some states in the US, apparently, both parties have to consent to being recorded. In others (and in Canada), only one party needs to consent. Hence it is perfectly legal to go around taping conversations. Be careful though! If you do it often, no one will talk to you!

Kicking the ball out of touch (or into the hands of the RCMP)

One of Martin's mistakes in his handling of the Adscam affair--something that Chretien would probably have never done--was to call a public inquiry. The other option was to hand the matter over the RCMP, who (one assumes) would have discovered most or all of what Gomery has, but without the public embarassment to the party. And while the RCMP are investigate, Martin & Co. can turn aside questions with a pious it-wouldn't-be-appropriate-to-comment-while-a-criminal-investigation-is-underway.

The Conservatives, as has been widely reported, are giving the Grewal tapes to the RCMP, thereby avoiding Martin's mistake. Any growing pressure to release the tapes can be brushed aside with the not-appropriate-to-comment line. We will probably not ever get access to the full transcript.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Coyne: He started it is no defence.

Andrew Coyne is one of the country's best columnists. In his column about the Grewal affair (linked via the header), however, he has misconstrued (1) the encounter & the nature of the discussion and (2) has consequently misjudged the eight minutes that we have.

Our eight minutes are about abstaining in the non-confidence vote, which Murphy probably assumes that Grewal wants to do. Why? Because he assumes that Grewal is genuinely interested in becoming a Liberal and, given that, does not want the government to fall.

What were the other three-and-a-half hours about? They were discussions about Grewal's actual change of parties--not abstaining in a non-confidence vote. Did Gruel ask for something to cross-the-floor? Maybe, maybe not. Apparently, however, whatever he asked for was not granted. (If it was, the discussion would have ended.)

My take? By his own admission, Grewal was pretending to be interested in crossing the floor. Murphy took him at his word. His suggestion that Grewal might abstain in the non-confidence vote was meant as a way to prolong a discussion that Grewal had either initiated or had been a willing partner in.

Where are the clowns? There ought to be clowns.

One thing I don't understand is why there have been no political cartoons about the Grewal affair. I mean, come on! There ought to be all kinds of things to do. Picture it. Grewal in a miniskirt and fishnets standing on the corner with Murphy as a curb-crawler. Or Grewal as Inspector Gadget. There's a lot of comic possibility here!

Simpson: Grewal tapes are pretty thin gruel

Jeffrey Simpson expresses dismay at Grewal's procedure.

Money quote:
Are there no limits? Mr. Grewal, and the Conservative leadership, should release all the tapes if they wish to use eight minutes of them for partisan purposes. Then everybody could judge whether indeed Mr. Grewal was on some kind of bizarre sting operation, organized either by himself, or with the encouragement of senior party members, or, as it equally plausible to an outsider, that he was indeed sniffing around, visiting cabinet ministers, opening up lines of communication for a switch, hoping to secure something then or later for himself and/or his wife.

Question 5: what will this do to Murphy's career?

A matching question for Q4. Someone recently noted that no one whose conversation is taped ends up looking good, and in this case Murphy looks a little too clever and slightly disreputable. Will this hamper his effectiveness in the PMO?

Question 4: What effect will this have on Grewal's career as a parliamentarian?

One point that should be raised is that this episode does not bode well, I think, for Grewal's future in parliament. Being a parliamentarian involves a certain amount of give-and-take and cooperation between parties. There are private members' bills to co-sponsor, committee business to discuss, common-ground to be found. I suspect that Grewal will find it very difficult to have such dealings in the future, simply because he has proved himself interested in 'gotcha!' sensationalism through surreptious recording.

For example, consider the co-chair of committee x, who by the nature of his job has to do a certain amount of horse-trading with his co-chair of another party, and conceivably with committee members of other parties. Could Grewal be trusted to do this kind of thing following the taping of meetings? Would the leadership of his own party nominate him for such work? Indeed, can the members of his own party trust him during their own meetings?

Recording conversations like a pro

For those interested in 'pulling a Grewal' themselves.

(If anyone knows anything about this, please comment. I'm curious as to why the quality of the tape is so uneven. Murphy's words seem to be clear; Grewal's are occasionally unintelligible. Why would this be? Presumably the tape-machine is on Grewal's person and so should pick up his voice better, no?)

Question 3: Was section 119 of the criminal code broken?

119. (1) Every one who

(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, corruptly
(i) accepts or obtains,
(ii) agrees to accept, or
(iii) attempts to obtain,

any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment for himself or another person in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by him in his official capacity, or

(b) gives or offers, corruptly, to a person mentioned in paragraph (a) any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by him in his official capacity for himself or another person,

is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.


If Grewal is guilty of anything, it will fall under section (a): he is a member of parliament who (possibly) is on tape 'attempting to obtain' (s.s. iii) a consideration.

If Murphy is guilty of anything, it is under section (b): he may be offering a consideration to Grewal.

Tape may be outside sphere of ethics officer, NDP says

Money quote. Joe Comartin, NDP Justice critic says: "[Conflict of Interest Code of Members of the House of Commons] focuses on receiving gifts and that type of thing from outside and from the private sector as opposed to the relationship here between one political party and an individual or a government and an individual. It just doesn't seem to be broad enough."

Question 2: what is the general context of the tapes?

I suggest that this much is clear [brackets mark what is supposition about what is not in the released 8 minutes]

[1. After discussions had been initiated by one side or the other, the first stage in the discussion was the question of Grewal's crossing the floor and what (if anything) he could expect once he did this.]

[2. This discussion never reached a conclusion for reasons that are unclear.]

[3. Murphy, believing that Grewal is still interested in crossing the floor at a later date, suggests a way to keep that option open.]

4. Murphy suggests that Grewal vote against the coming non-confidence motion and claim that he is doing it because his constituents don't want an election.

Question 1: why do we have these 8 minutes

There are a number of questions that need to be addressed. One is why were these eight minutes chosen for release?

My guess is that Grewal chose these eight minutes because his initial concern was to prove that it had been the Liberals who had approached him, not vice versa. In this section of the tape he manages to slip into the conversation twice that this was the case. (This is not clear evidence as to who really did make the initial approach, since Grewal knows he is taping his own conversation and could have chosen to lie on his own tape.) It was only once the tape was public that someone pointed out that this may fall afoul of the criminal code provisions about 'selling' offices.

The transcript so far

This is a transcript from a taped meeting Wednesday between Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal and Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff. The tape has been released by the Conservative Party. It is believed that Mr. Murphy was unaware that he was being taped. The tape is of poor quality and Mr. Grewal is almost entirely unintelligible. The Conservatives have refused to release the rest of the tape, including a meeting with Minister of Health Ujjal Dosanjh, which they say is largely in Punjabi. Immigration Minister Joe Volpe has asked the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner to investigate what he alleges are improper requests by Mr. Grewal of constituents who are seeking help from the MP in their immigration cases.

Murphy: [unintelligible] ...best for you and best for us, in a way that allows everybody to feel comfortable, and also allows everybody to feel principled, and I think to be principled. Both.

So, I was kind of thinking about that and I talked to Ujjal last night and again this morning, just before I came, which is why I was a few minutes late.

I apologize.

Grewal: That's OK.

Murphy: What I think... what might be the easiest thing to do, and see what you think about this, because we have the vote tomorrow night, and if the government doesn't fall, it's not the only vote we may have to face.

My guess is that when you look at issues like supply, final votes on the budget, opposition days, there could be as many as eight votes between now and the end of the session which could bring the government down, right?

Obviously, each one of them will be a nail-biter right to the end, and obviously, the two votes that you and your wife represent are the way the House is made up now, matter a lot, or can matter.

There are, just to be honest, as I think I told you yesterday. There are other members of your current caucus who are facing the same dilemma that you face, and are musing, so —

Grewal: [unintelligible] many?

Murphy: I don't want to, in the he same way I don't want to do anything that, I don't want to—

Grewal: [unintelligible]

Murphy: If I'm to honour your trust, I have to honour others.

Grewal: Definitely.

Murphy: So, I hope you don't take that wrongly.

Grewal: Absolutely not.

Murphy: So I think the way to make it work, and the way that allows us the freedom—as you can tell. Right? Just to be blunt, right?

I think it's a bad idea, truthfully, to have any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade. Because I think anything that [unintelligible].

I don't think it's good if anybody lies. So if anybody asks the question well, was there a deal, you say, 'No.'

You want that to be the truth. And so that's what I want, is the truth to be told.

Secondly, though, I mean obviously it's an important decision for you and your wife and I understand that you want to ensure that you can continue to contribute. Both of you. So, I understand that.

And, as I said, people who make decisions like this in a principled way are people who ought to and deserve to continue to contribute.

So how do we square that circle?

Grewal: Okay.

Murphy: So one of the proposals I have is this, that, tomorrow's vote is, let me phrase it in the abstract.

If two members of the Conservative Party abstain from that vote... don't vote against their own party, right? Don't have to.

But equally don't vote to bring it down tomorrow night on the two/ I think there's two key votes.

And that can be done on the basis... those members can do it, on the basis, well, you know.

Look, my riding doesn't want an election. Doesn't want one now. Thinks it's the wrong time to do it.

But equally, you know, to vote the opposite way is to vote against the party I'm a member of, the leader of the party, and I'm not prepared to do that.

But I don't think an election's the right thing — I don't want to say that won't create some...

[interjection by Grewal, unintelligible]

... some flak, but it keeps freedom, right? Allows someone to go back home in the right circumstance and it also allows someone an opportunity, right?

So if there is an abstention. If someone then, though, in my view, if someone then abstains in that environment, who has exercised a decision based on principle, it still gives the freedom to have negotiating room.

On both sides. Both going back home — then it's actually the freedom to have discussion is increased if someone has made a decision that doesn't preclude any options based on principle.

Then you can come and say, "Well look..." — then you can have an explicit discussion. And then in that environment, you know, a person can say, "Look, I obviously abstained, and that created some issues, and now I'm thinking hard about."

You can say, "I'm thinking hard about what's the right thing for my riding and the contribution that I could like to make."

Then we can have a discussion that welcomes someone to the party. And then in that environment we know if those two votes continue to vote, either the one vote switches, or one switches and one abstains, or both abstain, from now until the end of the session the government will survive, right?

We know that. And then we get through to the end of the session, right?,

And then, if one person wants to switch and make the contribution, then that makes a lot of sense.

If the other wants to switch and then serve until an election, or some time in advance of that, and then... and then... and then... you know, something would look to be done to ensure that that person...

Grewal: Oh shit.

(It appears that Grewal's BlackBerry goes off, and the conversation is briefly interrupted.)

Murphy: That's quite all right. These things go off all the time.

Grewal: I have it switched off.

Murphy: All of which is to say, that in advance of that, explicit discussions about Senate. Not Senate. I don't think are very helpful, and I don't think frankly can be had, in advance of an abstention tomorrow.

And then we'll have much more detailed and finely hued discussions after that with some freedom.

And I think what that allows is negotiating room for you, in either direction.

You can easily, say, "Look. Yeah, you know, if you don't like it, you can stay home, stay back with... where you are. And if you do like, we can make an arrangement that allows you to move.

Now look, I don't expect, you to react to that right now. Think about it. Please talk to Ujjal.

Ujjal knows this is the discussion I'm having with you. Please feel free, and say, you know, he knows. And then, if that proposal is of some interest to you, then I will talk to Volpe and get something happening.

(Pause. Grewal starts to speak. Murphy interrupts.)

Well, I have talked to Volpe, already. So —

Grewal: Is he manageable?

Murphy: Yes.

Grewal: What happens is…..[unintelligible] you know how we came together. There are some common friends. He approached me. [unintelligible]

Murphy: No, it's a bit... it's the same. I understand. Sorry.

Please accept, I understand completely.

It's much like Belinda, where there is a third party who is independent of both sides. You didn't approach, we didn't approach.

Grewal: They did approach me.

Murphy: The independent party played the role, like we didn't approach, you didn't approach.

Grewal: [unintelligible] End of tape

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Volpe's role

Things are now becoming clearer. Why was Volpe mentioned? Apparently Grewal wanted a public apology from Volpe: he admits as much here.

From the story linked to above:

On the tape, Mr. Murphy is overheard referring to discussions he's had with Volpe.

“Mr. Grewal had suggested that perhaps some action could be taken with respect to the investigations launched by the RCMP and ethics commissioner,” said Mr. Reid.

“Mr. Murphy appropriately insisted that those were independent processes and that nothing could or would be done.

“Mr. Grewal asked if Mr. Volpe might at least say a gracious word about him in public and Mr. Murphy undertook to raise the matter.”

Mr. Grewal agreed he wanted Mr. Volpe to retract his allegations. But he angrily denied ever asking anyone to interfere with an investigation.

“It's absolutely false,” Mr. Grewal said in an interview. “I told these guys, ‘This minister owes me an apology.' Because the comments he made, he knew they were false.

Tories will turn over tapes

So, it gets more and more interesting. But one point is important. Handing the tapes to the RCMP probably means that we'll never get to see them.

Grewal blasted over visa guarantees

B.C. MP blasted over visa guarantees
Last updated Apr 6 2005 10:11 AM PDT
CBC News
VANCOUVER – Canada's Immigration Minister says the conduct of Newton-North Delta Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal "besmirches everybody and everything" to do with immigration.
Joe Volpe says Grewal admitted he has asked his constituents to give him refundable guarantees of $50,000 to $100,000 in exchange for his help in getting temporary visas for visiting friends and family.
The guarantees were to ensure some "high-risk" visitors would return home when the visas expired.
Volpe said he has asked the federal ethics commissioner to investigate.
Grewal told the Commons citizenship and immigration committee last month that he hasn't cashed any of the guarantees from constituents. But Volpe said that's not the point.
Volpe said the process of granting temporary visas must be free of political interference.
"It unfortunately brings the whole system into disrepute," he said.
"And you have people who think that a system that is supposed to be open and accessible to all – even with all of its faults – is now only accessible to those who are able to put $50,000 down at the table, for a local member of Parliament to intervene."
Grewal's office in Ottawa said the MP was not available to discuss this issue. But a spokesperson said Grewal has never asked for a bond from a constituent.
And a Vancouver immigration lawyer said he doesn't believe Grewal is trying to make a profit, but was just testing how an immigration bill he has proposed might work in practice.
INTERVIEW: The Early Edition's Rick Cluff speaks with Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.
Grewal has introduced a private member's bill that asks the federal government to collect such a bond from visitors when immigration officers are worried they might try to stay in Canada when their visa expires.
"He honestly believed, in my view, that he had done the right thing," said immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who testified in front of the standing committee debating the bill. "The optics are not good, but his intentions were pure."
Volpe said that will be for the ethics commissioner to decide.

Go-between says Grewal initiated

Go-between says Tory MP approached Liberals
Last Updated Fri, 20 May 2005 07:00:48 EDT
CBC News
OTTAWA - The man who acted as a go-between for Conservative member of Parliament Gurmant Grewal and federal Liberals during recent talks about crossing the floor confirms a Liberal minister's claim that Grewal initiated the negotiations.

Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal leaves a news conference in Ottawa Wednesday May 18, 2005. (CP photo)
Sudesh Kalia has told CBC News that Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh told the truth when he said the Liberals did not approach Grewal about helping the Liberals by abstaining from a key budget vote.

If the Liberals lose the vote, Paul Martin's minority government will fall and the country will go to the polls, probably before the end of June.

Grewal told a news conference on Wednesday that the Liberals approached him to offer him a cabinet post and offer his wife Nina, who is also an MP from British Columbia, the prospect of either a diplomatic posting or a senate seat.

He also claimed to have secretly tape-recorded a conversation with Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff, negotiating with Grewal about the terms of the deal.

Kalia, who says he is a friend of both Grewal and Dosanjh, told CBC reporter Eric Sorensen that Grewal definitely made the first approach.

He also said Grewal had been talking about crossing the floor to the Liberals for "a couple of years."

Asked for comment, Grewal disputed Kalia's account, telling Sorensen he has a tape recording of a conversation with Kalia that backs him up.

Earlier, Dosanjh had told reporters that Grewal came back several times when the Liberals rejected his demands for high-level postings as a reward for switching allegiances.

"I am actually offended that he wouldn't take no for an answer," said Dosanjh, who is also an MP from British Columbia.

Grewal is not the first Conservative MP to accuse the Liberals of trying to court him with promises of appointments as the budget vote neared.

Nomination antics

An interesting story from the last election. Apparently both Grewal and his wife both registered as candidates for the CPC nomination of two different constituencies, while their friend, Jasbir Cheema, was bumping off Chuck Cadman in Surrey North. (These are three of Surrey's four ridings.)

Grewals 'hedging bets,' Polak charges

Ted Colley

Surrey school trustee Mary Polak pulled her bid for the Conservative nomination in Fleetwood-Port Kells yesterday.

Polak said she quit the race because Surrey-Central Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal and his wife Nina had both filed nomination papers in that riding and in Newton-North Delta, a move she called undemocratic.

"I'm done. This is just crazy," Polak said.

"They're hedging their bets, waiting to see where they have the best chance to win. The end of this book has been written."

Several hours later, Grewal announced he will run in Newton-North Delta and Nina in Fleetwood-Port Kells.

Grewal said they filed in both ridings because the party's national office was unable to supply membership lists before the filing deadline for nominations. He said so many new memberships were coming in, the party couldn't process them quickly enough. Grewal said the lists only became available late Tuesday morning.

"We never intended to run in more than one riding. We just needed that information before making a decision," he said.

That, said Polak, proves her point.

"They wanted to see where they could win instead of just filing in one riding and running a clean campaign," she said.

Grewal denied that and said Polak's charges were nothing but sour grapes.

"Mary Polak is simply finding an excuse because she didn't work hard. Of a total of about 1,100 members in that riding, Mary Polak had less than 100. That's why she quit, nothing else."

Polak called that nonsense, saying there's no way Grewal could know how many members she signed up.

"There's nowhere on there that says who signed up who. Gurmant's just trying to put a big happy face on all of this."

The two ridings were created when Surrey-Central was split. The Conservatives' Newton-North Delta nomination meeting will be held Feb. 28 and Fleetwood-Port Kells on Feb. 29.

Surrey-North MP Chuck Cadman also faces a serious challenge for his riding's nomination after his new rival Jasbir Cheema, a former TV news anchor for Channel M, reportedly signed up close to 1,500 members to the riding association, which currently has only about 268.

"It comes down to a numbers game, which is unfortunate because I don't believe that's how the process was initially designed to work," said Cadman, 56.

First elected to Parliament in 1997, Cadman said he only recently learned of several large membership sign-ups in Surrey submitted just before his party's deadline earlier this month. Cadman said the membership problem cuts across political lines since other provincial and federal parties have had the same situation.

"Unfortunately it looks like it comes down to who can sign up the most members," said Cadman. "I can stand up in front of a room full of 1,500 or 2,000 people right now and if somebody else signed up 1,500 of them I can talk about policy until I'm blue in the face and it won't make any difference."

Cheema, who doesn't live in Surrey-North, is a friend of Grewal, who said he advised Cheema not to run against Cadman.

- with files from Sterling News Service

Spector: Someone on the Vancouver Sun has a good memory

Norman Spector points towards a Sun editorial that recalls Grewal's antics in 1995, when he ran for the Liberal nomination in the provincial riding of North Delta

--Someone on the Vancouver Sun editorial board has a good memory:

"Grewal first made news in 1995 when he ran against Reni Masi, then president of the B.C. Liberal Party for the Liberal nomination in the provincial riding of North Delta. After agreeing to withdraw, Grewal said he had been offered a job as deputy minister by a senior Liberal official he refused to name. Grewal then jumped ship and ran against Masi as a candidate for the provincial Reform Party. He was soundly trounced.

Soon after, he switched to the federal arena and was on his way to the House of Commons. In 2002, he claimed he had been offered a position in Prime Minister Jean Chretien's government if he would cross the floor. He said the offer was made by a Liberal MP, whom he again did not identify."