Friday, August 26, 2005

Surrey Leader: Own party plagues Tory MP

Thanks to Al from Vancouver, who emailed me to point out this editorial:

Own party plagues Tory MP

By Dan Ferguson
Aug 26 2005

These days, Newton-North Delta Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal must be wondering whether he would have been better off to simply switch sides rather than rolling tape on his negotiations with senior Liberals. It's one thing to take a drubbing from political rivals and old adversaries with an axe to grind, but taking hits from your own people has got to hurt.

Grewal's party has managed to add to the series of controversies that have plagued the embattled politician ever since he held a May 18 news conference to announce the Liberals were engaging in vote-buying by dangling plum appointments before Grewal and his MP wife Nina.

Since then, the MP has become a magnet for controversy, with questions raised about everything from his immigration to Canada in 1993 to his handling of his 2003 campaign finances.

While Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and other party heavyweights have defended Grewal, that defence has become more muted as the weeks have dragged on. When maverick Tory MP John Cummins broke ranks in July to say that Grewal's "antics" were damaging their own party, the comment did not produce a rush of fellow Tories coming to Grewal's defence.

And Harper unwittingly managed to create a controversy by getting his dates mixed up and leaving the impression Grewal had defied him by continuing to tape conversations after Harper had told him not to. Harper told reporters in Ottawa on June 1 that he told Grewal to stop taping the day after a caucus meeting that Harper said was on Monday, May 16.

That produced a number of stories that Grewal had continued taping one day after Harper told him to stop. However, the caucus meeting Harper referred to was actually held on May 17, one day later. In other words, Grewal stopped taping on May 18 when Harper told him to.

Despite that, the accusation he defied his own boss has continued to haunt Grewal, with a Vancouver daily newspaper most recently reprinting the erroneous claim in an editorial.

There has been no correction or clarification from Harper or his spokesman, William Stairs, another Tory that Grewal has no reason to love at the moment. It was Stairs who told a Canadian Press reporter that Grewal had been cleared by an RCMP review of the Grewal tapes.

"We're pleased that the RCMP has cleared Mr. Grewal," Stairs said. "We were confident all along of his integrity and the RCMP has confirmed our judgement," Stairs added.

The problem is, Grewal's conduct in making the tapes wasn't at issue. The RCMP stated that the investigation was into "allegations of bribery and other related offences or laws" on the audio recordings.

Perhaps Stairs didn't want to admit the RCMP ruling undercut a key Conservative claim that the tapes prove the Liberals broke the law against vote-buying.

But trying to spin it the way Stairs did, he managed to make Grewal look like a potential suspect. With friends like these, Grewal must be wondering whether he needs any enemies.


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