Tuesday, July 12, 2005

CBC: Harper stands by Grewal

From the CBC:
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he's standing by MP Gurmant Grewal who is accused of mishandling political contributions.

Harper says Grewal is the victim of a smear campaign by the Liberals.

CBC News has documented several cases where donations made to Grewal never made it to official party accounts, nor were they reported to Elections Canada.

Harper said Tuesday he has no reason to investigate Grewal's finances. "We'll obviously get what information we can. I wouldn't call it an investigation," he said.

Grewal is already under police investigation after tape-recording his conversations with Liberals about crossing the floor. Now RCMP are interviewing people who say they made donations to Grewal but never received a receipt.

Harper says at this point he sees no reason to take action against Grewal. "I don't cut people loose because there are accusations against someone. I'd only do that if they did something wrong."

The Conservatives' national office says it has reviewed the donations and found nothing wrong.

William Stares, the party's communications director, says since the donations were made outside of an election period, no receipts were required. He says the money was given to fund nominations, not for an election campaign.

That contradicts Barj Dahan, one of the donors, who said the money was intended solely for Grewal's re-election campaign.

Stares says Dahan is changing his story and is part of a Liberal plot to smear Grewal.

The Elections Act has strict rules about campaign donations. Every donor has to get a receipt.

The act also makes it illegal for campaign contributions to be deposited anywhere but in the campaign's account or the riding association's account. The act also says only the official agent can handle contributions and that all of them must be reported to Elections Canada.

In Grewal's campaign CBC News found five cases where that didn't seem to have happened.