Friday, August 05, 2005

Harper wrong about when he learned about the Grewal tapes

Harper was wrong, it seems, when he said that he told Grewal on May 17th to stop taping.

As regular readers will know, there has been some contradictory statements in the last week or so about Harper's role in the tapes and their aftermath. This began when Grewal said in an interview that he Harper approved of his taping (here). This was quickly contradicted by Harper's office (here) and retracted by Grewal (see here).

This led to a story in the Globe & Mail (here), which pointed out that several of the tapes must have been made after Harper told Grewal to stop. This was based on Harper's press conference of June 1, where he backed Grewal and explained his involvement in the tapes (my archive of that event is here). Here are Harper's exact words
Gurmant approached me at our caucus meeting on Monday, May the 16th, and told me—it was just the end of the meeting--he had something important to tell me about his discussions with the Liberals. I didn’t have time to talk to him then because I was on the way to the airport. I said I’d call him the next morning [Buckets: that is, the 17th]. And at that point he told me that, uh, he had the option of meeting that evening with—he and Nina--of meeting that evening with the Prime Minister to discuss Liberal offers. Mr. Grewal, Gurmant, said to me in his conversation, when he told me that he taped these, uh, conversations, he said to me that, uh, he had the option of meeting that evening with the Prime Minister. … Gurmant did ask me if I wanted him to meet with the Prime Minister and I said no. Thanks.
Now Grewal says that Harper got this wrong (here and here): that he was told to stop taping on the 18th.

So, who do we believe? Unless I'm mistaken, Harper has to be wrong here. The caucus meeting that Harper mentions should be the emergency meeting held on the evening of Tuesday, May 17th (mentioned here); Harper says that he was on the way to the airport, which will have been to go to Regina for the Queen's visit, where we know he was on the 18th (see the three stories here).

Unless someone can show that there was also a caucus meeting on the 16th (a Monday; the Conservatives weekly caucus meeting normally takes place on Wednesday), and that Harper flew somewhere else on Monday, I think we have to accept Grewal's version of events. (There's a man-bites-dog story: Grewal telling the truth!)

I'll try to post what I think this means later.

Update. I missed a story from the Surrey Leader a few days ago which quotes William Stair:
William Stair, a spokesman for the Conservative party leader, appeared to contradict Grewal's claim that Harper was informed of the taping before the May 17 meeting.

"That isn't true," Stairs told The Leader on Friday. "They spoke (about the taping for the first time) on the 17th of May."

Stairs declined to discuss Grewal's apparent contravention of Harper's stop-taping order. "I don't know what sort of conclusion you can draw from that," Stairs said when asked about the May 18 recordings. "This is an issue between the two of them (Harper and Grewal)."

Stairs offered a muted defence of Grewal, saying the MP has "done nothing wrong that anyone has proven."
Stairs' version, however, contradicts Harper, not Grewal. It was Harper who had said that he had first learned of the tapes on the 16th.



Post a Comment

<< Home