Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Grewal interviewed by The Now

Another interview by Grewal, who is sticking to his talking points.

Libs called MP '35 times'

Tom Zytaruk

"They will say anything and do anything to discredit my reputation," the embattled Conservative MP for Newton-North Delta told the Now. "All the whistleblowers go through this."

Gurmant Grewal says the recent blizzard of negative news reports about him highlight the federal Liberals' determination to deflect public attention away from "their own sordid and corrupt political standards and political actions."

Grewal has so far weathered a political and media storm unparalleled in recent history after he made tapes of conversations he claims reveal the Liberals tried to bribe him in exchange for his vote, prior to the nail-biting confidence vote in the House of Commons in May.

"Very unfair treatment has been inflicted upon me by my political opponents and the less-than-diligent mainstream national media over these couple of weeks in the past," Grewal told the Now.

He claims the Liberals are trying to "divert the attention away from the fact that they were caught on tape offering rewards or incentives in exchange for our vote."

The RCMP is reviewing the tapes. Grewal said he wanted to put the taping issue into proper context.

"For the last nine years I have been approached by the Liberals many times," he said. "On two or three occasions it was a very serious offer and I ended that discussion by thanking them, 'Thank you very much, I'm not interested,' end of the matter. I didn't do any recording, I didn't report in the media or anything like that. But I told my leader, I told my board members."

But that, he said, would change after Conservative MP Inky Mark was allegedly offered a diplomatic post if he changed his vote. This alleged incident wasn't taped. So, Grewal says, he got prepared. Grewal claims the Liberals called him 35 times in three days - strange behaviour, he says, for someone not making an offer and wanting to say no to any overture Grewal might make.

"Why would it take the Liberals so long to say no?" he said. "Why would they have meeting after meeting after meeting with me, and telephone calls - three dozen calls made to me, as the record will show - why would they do that? How long does it take to say no, when they wanted to say no? So that itself reflects that they were the ones who were making the offer."

Grewal says he handed over the original tapes to the Conservative Party right away. "I didn't have any input on what should be released and when it should be released, but the fact of the matter is these tapes are very damaging to the Liberals," he said.

On stories concerning whether the tapes were doctored, Grewal notes, professional audio engineer Randy Dash found them to be clean and unaltered and said he couldn't conclude there'd been any editing.

Jim Abbott, Conservative MP for Kootenay-Columbia and chair of his party's B.C. caucus, stands behind Grewal. On Monday, Abbott said he considers Grewal to be among the top 10 of all MPs "in terms of dedication."

"I am standing by him because I have taken a look at all the evidence," Abbott said. "It really bugs me," he added, that Grewal is being sidetracked by "unnecessary garbage." Any "fair-minded" person, he added, can see that "basically this is nothing more than a smear job by the Liberals."

Since the taping incident two months ago, Grewal has been implicated in six scandals; the first involving his practice of requiring constituents to agree to post bonds in exchange for his help in obtaining visitors visas for their relatives, to guarantee their return. An inquiry by federal Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro found no bonds were purchased, no fee was charged and no attempt was made to redeem the personal guarantees. Shapiro found "Grewal's intention was not to benefit personally but rather to implement some due diligence measures."

Grewal noted that "the story simply disappeared after the ethics commissioner cleared me of any wrongdoing."

The second scandal involved an incident at Vancouver International Airport. He said the media reported he had multiple packages and was going from person to person asking them it they were going to Ottawa. "That was not the case. Nothing happened at the airport, no one complained, no one had any issue."

He said he resents that the Richmond RCMP cleared him in less than 48 hours but it took Transport Canada nine days to do the same. He questions how the story broke so quickly after Air Canada presented him with a "personal and confidential" letter concerning the matter.

He also claimed the media failed to contact him or his party for his side of the story.

Meanwhile, old allegations surfaced concerning immigration investments issues - allegations Grewal says are false and ones he plans to sue over.

And recent stories about "new tapes" are bogus, Grewal said. "I don't have any new tapes."

Grewal said the RCMP simply wanted his personal copies of the tapes he'd already given them, and he had his lawyer turn them over.

But stories about Grewal's "new tapes" gave the impression he'd been hiding something, said Dane Minor, who ran Nina Grewal's election campaign.

"What they reported is, Grewal turns over more tapes, and then it's kind of, 'What could be on those tapes? Could it be the famous missing_could it be so-and-so on the grassy knoll_," Minor said.

Some media reports concerning missing donation receipts failed to note the complainants had Liberal ties, Grewal told the Now, and that non-receipt cheques payable to MPs complied with the rules in 2003.

In all this, Grewal claims, the national media "was manipulated by the Liberal spinmasters to publish rumours, innuendoes and even lies rather than digging out for the facts."

Brian Archer, who sits on the Conservative Riding Association Board for Newton-North Delta, says the taping was an "unprecedented event" and adds "it doesn't take much to figure out there's a pattern here - to discredit the messenger."

Grewal noted the CBC national news had a four-minute segment "slamming" his ethics for taping the Liberals while later in the same newscast they ran a story praising someone else in a similar situation.

Said Archer, "The lead story is Gurmant and taping, and how improper and untoward it was for a member of parliament to be doing this to expose corruption in government. Two or three segments later, they're praising an Ontario government employee for outing corruption within the OPP, using tapes."

Grewal was beside himself. "Can you believe that?" an exasperated Grewal asked. "Unbelievable."

"The next story will say that when I was in high school I didn't pay my library fine on time," he laughed. When this reporter inquired if that's true, he chuckled, "Maybe, I don't know.

"When I am exonerated I will be able to stand up again, with my chin up," Grewal said.


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