Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Grewal cleared in bond controversy

Update. See now the thorough review, with links to the relevant documents, at Section 15.

The Toronto Star puts it best:
Gurmant Grewal's only sin was having a bad idea, according to the federal ethics commissioner.
But you can also check in the the Globe and Mail, which has a story that reports that Grewal has been cleared of any wrong-doing in the bond controversy:
Mr. Grewal was accused of wrongdoing for asking constituents to post hefty bonds for help obtaining temporary visas for would-be immigrants.

Dr. Shapiro was asked by Immigration Minister Joe Volpe to investigate Mr. Grewal after Mr. Grewal admitted to a Commons committee in March that he had asked Canadians who requested visitor permits for relatives to give signed commitments to post bonds in exchange for supporting those applications. He told the committee he proposed the bonds be set at $100,000, but insists he never intended to collect any money and was only trying out the system he is proposing through a private member's bill.

In his report, Dr. Bernard Shapiro concluded that there was no real conflict of interest. "No profit personal to Mr. Grewal was either intended or realized. That is, there is nothing to suggest that this practice actually furthered Mr. Grewal's personal financial interest in any way," Dr. Shapiro said.
Nonetheless, the commissioner has instructed Grewal to stop the practice:
In the report, Dr. Shapiro said that while Mr. Grewal had indeed asked for the signed commitments, his actions were an error in judgment.

He found Mr. Grewal was not benefiting financially from anyone, and further, the ethics commissioner said, he asked the Newton North Delta MP to stop asking for the written pledges and Mr. Grewal complied.
In my opinion, the immigration bonds were always a bit of a side-show. But one thing that they do illustrate is a reckless willingness on Grewal's to improvise and to take the law into his own hands. Just as he set up his own visa-guarantee scheme, so, too, apparently, at some point he decided to go undercover and record discussions with Dosanjh and Murphy in order to embarass them--discussions that it seems he initiated. In retrospect he was a danger to himself and his party. He has probably destroyed his own political career. Whether he's done any damage to the Conservatives remains to be seen.