Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Macleans: RCMP to interview man who contributed

RCMP to interview man who contributed toward Grewal's re-election campaign


VANCOUVER (CP) - The RCMP will interview a man who says he's still waiting for a tax receipt from the Conservative party, 18 months after he made a contribution to MP Gurmant Grewal's re-election campaign.

Barj Dhahan, a Vancouver businessman, said the Mounties planned to take a statement from him on Wednesday. Dhahan said he contributed $600 toward Grewal's campaign on Dec. 27, 2003, and has had about a dozen phone conversations since February with staff at the MP's constituency office about a receipt.

"Nothing, no response, and yet they take all the information," Dhahan said.

Grewal is already under scrutiny for secretly taping discussions with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and the prime minister's top aide in the spring about joining the Liberals and then going public with the tapes, which the Liberals said had been altered.

The Conservative party has said the cheques went to a supplier for campaign expenses.

Grewal made headlines again last month when he was spotted at a Vancouver airport trying to get someone to take an envelope full of audio tapes to Ottawa. He later went on stress leave.

The RCMP has cleared him of wrongdoing in the airport incident.

But the Mounties are examining the tapes and Parliament's ethics commissioner has also been asked to look into the affair.

Dhahan said the RCMP called him July 6 to say an investigation had been launched after complaints from others who also hadn't received receipts for their campaign contributions.

RCMP Cpl. Tom Seaman confirmed police are investigating.

"The RCMP has been asked to review information and materials to ascertain if any Criminal Code violations have taken place," Seaman said.

"All I'm interested in as a taxpayer, as a voter in this country, is I made a contribution toward a campaign for re-election, I was promised I would receive a receipt and I never did," Dhahan said.

After waiting well over a year for a receipt, Dhahan said he said he obtained a copy of his cancelled cheque from the bank and spotted what to him appeared to be the MP's signature.

According to Elections Canada, a campaign contribution can be made directly to a candidate but receipts must be issued and funds must be deposited into the campaign or riding association account.

Dhahan, along with his associate Sarup Mann, met Grewal in his office on Dec. 27, 2003, the day both men made $600 contributions toward the MP's re-election.

When the matter of campaign contributions came up, Dhahan said he asked Grewal who he should write the cheque to.

Grewal asked that the cheque be written to him, Dhahan said.

"A little bit of a red flag went up for me so when I wrote it out I added the letters MP, Member of Parliament."

Like Dhahan, Mann is also waiting for a tax receipt.

John Keith, the MP's official agent, said he didn't report the cheques in question to Elections Canada or issue receipts because he never got them.