Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Vancouver Sun: Grewal quit because he feared probes

There are some more detail in the Vancouver Sun article quoted below, which makes the more specific point that the 'unresolved issues' that Grewal cites as potentially damaging to the Conservatives are Shapiro's investigation of his taping fellow MPs and questions about his campaign contributions.

Also worth noting: Grewal admits that the optics of taping fellow MPs is not good.
Grewal bows out, fears probes could harm Harper

Peter O'Neil, Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2005

OTTAWA -- Controversial B.C. MP Gurmant Grewal announced Tuesday he is quitting politics because he fears two ongoing investigations into his activities would hurt Conservative leader Stephen Harper's chances of becoming prime minister.

Grewal, who rose to national prominence earlier this year after releasing secretly taped conversations of him negotiating a plan to join the Liberals, informed Harper of his decision in a brief written statement. "Due to certain still-unresolved issues, which I believe my political opponents would use against me and our party in the coming election, I have reluctantly decided to take this course of action," wrote Grewal, who has said he was only trying to ensnare senior Liberals in a "sting" operation last May.

Harper, who described Grewal as a victim of an ongoing Liberal "hatchet job," said Grewal wasn't pushed out, although he acknowledged the MP consulted with some caucus colleagues before making his decision. "Unfortunately I think Gurmant's probably right, these things could become issues for him and the party during the campaign," Harper said in a televised interview. "So I think he's done what's in the interests of the party by deciding not to run."

Harper said the party hasn't identified a candidate to replace Grewal in the Newton-North Delta riding. He noted that Grewal's wife Nina, the MP for the neighbouring riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells, remains the Tory candidate there.

Newton-North Delta NDP candidate Nancy Clegg said Grewal's decision has changed the dynamics of the election in the riding. "It could help us; it could hurt us. But this election is now wide open," she said. Clegg said Grewal did the right thing. The investigations would have detracted from issues important to voters in the riding, she said.

"The events of the last year and a half have cast him in sort of an unfortunate light and that light might have dominated the campaign," she said. "I knew it would come up but I wasn't going to be the one to raise it."

Harper predicted Grewal will be cleared in separate investigations. One is by Bernard Shapiro, the House of Commons ethics commissioner, who is looking into the secret taping incidents.

The other, by the RCMP, is looking into the MP's experimental scheme of asking constituents to sign performance bonds before he would endorse applications to the federal government for temporary visitor visas to bring in relatives.

Shapiro has already cleared Grewal in his own investigation of the bond controversy, while the RCMP has looked into the tapes incident and found no evidence of anyone illegally seeking or offering a bribe.

Grewal, first elected as a Reform MP in 1997, edged out Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal by only 520 votes in the 2004 election. With Dhaliwal running again, some media commentators have predicted Grewal was doomed.

In an interview, Grewal, 47, said he believes he could have won re-election, and said he's sure he'll be cleared in the two investigations.

He said his bond scheme was intended to prevent foreign visitors from staying in Canada after their visa expired. He said he never collected -- or intended to collect -- any money from the constituents.

Shapiro, meanwhile, is currently investigating Grewal's actions in the secret taping of conversations in May with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff. Murphy and Dosanjh were discussing whether the Grewals would cross the floor to help the Liberals survive a confidence vote. The Liberals survived after luring Belinda Stronach over and giving her a cabinet post.

Grewal said he never intended to become a Liberal and was engaged in a secret "sting" operation to prove Martin's lieutenants would offer bribes, in the form of patronage rewards, to survive politically.

But there were no clear patronage offers in the transcripts, and the Liberals turned the tables on Grewal by accusing him of unethically asking for patronage rewards in return for votes.

Grewal, who has been publicly criticized by some of his own caucus colleagues for secretly taping other MPs, acknowledged Tuesday that the tactic didn't come across positively.

"The optics were not very great, but there was no other way to catch the Liberals doing this kind of sleazy politics behind the scenes," he said, noting the media had ignored previous Tory claims that the Liberals were trying to buy votes.

Grewal said he leaves politics with his head high.

He said he has been a "very innovative" MP who was one of the first to push issues like recognition of foreign credentials, malfeasance in Canadian embassies abroad, and the need for whistleblower legislation.

"I have had a very brilliant political track record for the last almost nine years," he said.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Grewal quits!

The CBC reports that Grewal is not seeking re-election.

More to follow.

Update. Public Eye Online discusses rumours about potential Conservative candidates in the riding.

Update 2. CTV News adds comments of Harper ("I think he's done what's in the interests of the party by deciding not to run.") and their Ottawa bureau chief suggests that Conservatives "encouraged him to leave".

The CBC quotes John Reynolds as saying that the Conservatives had not pressured Grewal into resigning.

FAQ 7b. What is the 'suicide note' and what does it have to do with the release of the tapes?

Grewal first revealed that he had taped his conversations with Dosanjh and Murphy on May 18th, and the Conservatives released what they described as a full set of recordings at mid-day on May 31st.

Within a day of the release of those tapes, however, questions began to be raised about their integrity (note my entry of 6 pm on June 1st: here) and over the next day there was a flurry of stories (e.g. here or here [archived here]).

Late on June 2, the Conservatives publicly admitted that there were problems. A Conservative staffer distributed a press-release to reporters at an Ottawa. the conservative staffer who distributed it is said to have called it a 'suicide note'. This press release admits that the original tapes had been in conservative hands since May 18th, suggests that the problems found in the tapes were caused by technical problems, claims that only a few seconds was missing, and points out two places where the transcript needs revision. Here is a scan:

The press release raises as many questions as it solves: it was more than a few seconds than had fallen out of the tapes. (It was almost 15 minutes in one recordin alone.) And it places responsibility for the tapes squarely in Harper's office.

Return to the FAQ


Monday, November 28, 2005

FAQ 7a. When were the recordings released?

The Grewal tapes were released in three stages.
  1. Eight minutes of recordings were released on May 18th, shortly after Grewal's new conference in which he alleged that the Liberals had tried to bribe him. This was part of the meeting that Grewal had had with Tim Murphy earlier that day.
  2. Approximately 75 minutes of recordings were released at mid-day May 31st. Four sound files and four accompanying transcripts were mounted at Grewal's website (see here for a list of files)
  3. Longer versions of the tapes began to be mounted at Grewal's website beginning late on June 2nd (see here and here). The total length of these recordings came to about 116 minutes.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Buckets of recognition: Blogging awards past, present, and future

Friends, my efforts here have garnered attention over the last six months of blogging--some of it good, some of it bad, some of it something in between. The highest of the highlights was the CTV story on me, closely followed by the positive mentions by Antonia Zerbisias (June 1; June 7; June 16). There were low-spots, too, including, um, threats of violence.

And of course, there were the awards:I take great pleasure, then, in being nominated in several categories in the Canadian Blog Awards. Specifically, I am being considered for Obviously, I am thrilled; it is a great honour to have been nominated. Thanks to all involved.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wouldn't this be perversion of justice?

Another question to be considered is whether Grewal broke the law when he gave the tapes and transcripts to the RCMP. The NDP and Bloc, as you'll recall, had asked the RCMP to investigate the conversations on the tapes after Grewal had revealed them to the public (see here).

If Grewal had given the RCMP the same tapes and transcripts to the RCMP as he released to the public, wouldn't this be obstruction of justice? Consider §137
137. Every one who, with intent to mislead, fabricates anything with intent that it shall be used as evidence in a judicial proceeding, existing or proposed, by any means other than perjury or incitement to perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.
Now, granted, we don't really know that he did this. There were reports, if I recall correctly, that he had given the physical tapes, and not digital clips, to the RCMP.

But what of the transcript? That was heavily edited, as we've seen. And the fact that it took the Conservatives until June 5th to release a full transcript of the Grewal-Dosanjh-Murphy conversation, and that that transcript has a June 5th creation date, suggests that they did not have a better translation/transcription to release any earlier, with the suicide note released June 2nd.

They must have released something: on May 25th, Canwest (archived here):
Geoff Norquay, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's director of communications, said the party will consider releasing the tapes and contacting police only after the tapes are translated from Punjabi to English.
That translation obviously would have produced a transcript.

This all raises the question--what transcript did the Conservatives give to the RCMP on May 31st? If it was a full one, why did they not release it to the public? If it was a partial, edited one like the one foisted on the public, did it amount to fabricating evidence with intent?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

New transcript for the Dosanjh-Grewal phonecall of the 17th

As I've shown many times, whoever prepared the transcript of the tapes did a very poor job (for a light-hearted version, see my post "F with a possibility to resubmit").

What is surprising is that even the later, corrected, versions are so poorly done. I noticed this again the other day while trying to straighten out the chronology of the phone calls (here). Below is a transcript of Grewal's first phonecall with Dosanjh, from May 17th. Yellow marks words that are in the June 7th transcript, but absent in the May 31st tape. In red are words that I can hear that are either not in either transcript or are there wrongly (in such cases, the originals are struck through). [Punjabi words are between square brackets.]

GG [How're you? ]

UD [Are you alone?]

GG [Yeah, I'm alone now, we can talk. Earlier, I was busy with representatives of] small businesses.

UD [Tim told me to call.] I think, as I said earlier, no Prime Minister would ever want to compromise himself with that kind of, appropriate um approach, um, because he want to be able to say, you know, 'I didn't make a deal with anybody, there was no deal'. You came and we accepted you, if that happens. If we did show there was an offer, and you want to be able to say that honestly. That's why I was suggesting to you, what I was suggesting to you. And that was the uh, uh, that was the difficulty that Tim had.


UD And, and you saw that. And I, and I think that, that you know, from my perspective, I told you that's the way about how my conversation went with the Prime Minister about when I came. You know it's what happened with Scott Brison, he essentially came as a back bencher, and, and stayed a back bencher, then was Parliamentary Secretary.

GG No, no, he came directly.

UD No, not in the Cabinet, not in the Cabinet.

GG Ah, that's right.

UD He was made a became the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Secretary.

GG Uh huh.

UD But then, that's a conversation for Tim, and you know that's how the deals are made these things happen. I think I just wanted to call you that to let you know, um, um. You should talk to me and Tim tonight, um, um, you want to be up there without the intent. (inaudible) You know that's one the things; that's how it is. So I think that you need to seriously think about the understanding of how these things happen and that it is a matter of trust and it's a matter of the Prime Minister being able to appropriate these positions when the time is right.


UD Prime Minister is never going to say to you that I'll give you X and go say that I never said that. He has to have, you have to be able to say that I did not make a deal. That's very important. That's why these kinds of deals are not made in that, in that fashion. Um, so, if, if you think about it, if, if, if you think it is appropriate, what we're preparing to do, give me a call, you have my cell right?

GG Yes

UD My cell number — usually I have it with me, but I have …

GG (inaudible: 8 seconds)

UD The understanding has to be one, together. And, and, then, and if there is an understanding that then Volpe would happen before you speak. OK? Um, Volpe won't be difficult. The ethics commissioner, there is nothing we can do. It is an independent thing. (inaudible: 5 seconds) we can then … we can … get Volpe to talk to you and we'll try to prevail upon him. I'm obviously unable (inaudible) understanding, right?

GG [We want to talk with goodwill, it is stumbling block that should be out of the way irrespective of what we do.]

UD Volpe, will talk with him, but it will be a package deal, it has become part of the big thing. And, and, it has to happen. Because, the understanding has to be based (inaudible). Understanding is there then we will prevail upon, will try and prevail upon budget day what's his name … Volpe … [goes out and say, well we will talk with him. It will be a package.] I mean, he might say look I'm right and you guys are wrong, right, but we will have to persuade him. (laughs) Right.

GG [Whatever Ethics Commissioner is doing, let the Ethics Commissioner] handle it. [But whatever he said wrong, he created the mess deliberately.]

UD [I can understand you views, xxx xxx xxx] if we did not rest of the discussion, then I could have talked to Volpe, now as we are engaged in the this is part of a larger discussion, until we reach an understanding, [how can the Prime Minister care about it his issue]. All this is package of understanding, it will have to be all together. If it is all together, and if we then succeed in getting direction a retraction from Joe, then you proceed with your end of it, do you follow? (parts of Punjabi inaudible)

Yes. OK we will see, thank you bye bye.
Most of the errors are mere incompetence. There are, however, three points where the changes support a false version of the story that Grewal had promulgated.

First, note the effect of leaving out Dosanjh's assertion that "it's a matter of the Prime Minister being able to appropriate these positions when the time is right". This contradicts Grewal's assertion before the tapes were released that he'd been offered a cabinet post. (See here, for example.) Here Grewal is clearly told that he'll have to wait.

Second, note the reference to Volpe at the end of the conversation. Dosanjh says "If it is all together, and if we then succeed in getting direction a retraction from Joe, then you proceed with your end of it, do you follow?" The actual words spoken show that it is an apology that is being arranged; the edited version obscure this.

Third, both Conservative versions of the transcipt have Dosanjh saying that if an understanding were reached, "we will prevail upon, will try and prevail upon budget day." If you listen to the tape, Dosanjh clearly says if the "understanding is there, then we will prevail upon, will try and prevail upon what's his name, Volpe". Again, this means the conversation was not about making a deal for Grewal's vote in the next days' confidence vote, but about arranging an apology with Volpe if Grewal were to change parties. That's not the version that Grewal had put forth in his news conferences. (Grewal had said that he'd been offered a cabinet post and a senate seat for voting with the government: here.)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cabinet right away revisited

Since the first version of Grewal's tapes were released on May 31st, one of the more damning quotes coming from Dosanjh's lips was his assertion that 'Cabinet right away is possible'. There are two related issues here. First, what do these words actually mean. Second, how has that meaning been obscured by the editing of these tapes.

Let's start with the second question. Here is the first transcript (released, with a highly edited tape of the conversation, on 31 May):
Like much of the May 31st tape and transcript, this section was heavily edited. We were able to see at least part of the problem when the Conservatives released a new version of the transcript on June 5th. In yellow are words that were edited out of the May 31st transcript, but included in the June 5th one.
Even the June 5th transcript, however, did accurately portray what was in the tapes (as we already knew: here and here).

Over the last few months, with the help of a few Punjabi-speaking friends, I've put together the following transcript and translation of this exchange. On the right is a translation; on the left is a transcript of the Punjabi/English words actually spoken. What this shows, however, is that the transcript of June 5th left out two passages: the words in red and blue (the two Conservative transcripts are marked with red and blue where these words fell out). Here is our version of this exchange:
UD Koi nahin, panj-ku minute lagde hai, car vich hee tiyari kar layee dee hai (Pause) (1:50) I … I think, ihde naal tuhade layee easy ho gaya hai… It’s OK, it takes about 5 minutes, I prepare in the car itself. (Pause) I … I think it [i.e., Stronach's defection] has made the things easier for you…
GG Haan, ih taan hai Yes, that’s true…
UD ihi tusi chahune ho and that’s want you want
GG Ih taan hai. Naale do galaan clear ho gayeeyan hun. Ik taan easy ho gaye, dooja, ih hai ki kal nu kujh ih na kahen ki, baad vich karange kujh. hosakdi hai (2:08) right away, ihde layee. That is true, Moreover, two things have become clear. Firstly, it has become easier. Secondly, they shouldn’t say that they'll do something later. It can happen right away, for her.
UD (2:11) Cabinet right away hosakdi hai Cabinet can be done right away
GG Uh uh Yes
UD (2:15) Cabinet right away hosakdi hai Cabinet can be done right away
GG Uhu, (2:18) right away ho sadki hai, kyonki vacancy kaafi lambe arsey to chali aa rahi hai, want the Parliament to work, (2:21) shortage hai members di Yes, it can be done right away, since the vacancy has been there for a long time, want the Parliament to work, there is shortage of members
UD Actually, you don’t want to lose the advantage. If you do it right away, you lose the advantage of numbers. Those are issues … Actually, you don’t want to lose the advantage. If you do it right away, you lose the advantage of numbers. Those are issues ….
Anyway, let’s talk
Anyway, let’s talk
So, let's turn to the other question: what does this exchange mean?

Once the text is complete, that becomes pretty clear. What was edited out? First, the red edit. Grewal asserts that "they shouldn’t say that they'll do something later. It can happen right away, for her." Who is "they"? Surely the Liberals. Who is 'her'? That is clear from the context: since Dosanjh arrived, Grewal and he had been talking about that morning's block-buster news; only three hours before, Belinda Stronach had dropped her bombshell: not only did she change parties and become a Liberal, she also was made a cabinet minister 'right away'.

What was the second edit (in blue)? It's difficult to see how this could mean anything other than Grewal demanding that if the Liberals want parliament to work, they will give him a cabinet post right away, too.

Why were these sections edited out? Because they showed that Grewal's claim to have been offered a cabinet post was false. It had been Grewal who had demanded a cabinet post; this exchange was excised precisely because it showed that.

What was Dosanjh's reaction to this? To Grewal's 'it happened right away for her', he acknowledged that 'cabinet right away is possible'. Was this an offer of a cabinet post? Grewal clearly did not think so now -- he vigorously asserts that if the Liberals wanted parliament to work, they would meet his demand -- or 20 minutes later to Murphy, when he complains that the Liberals have not made clear either what position he would get or its timing (see here). No, Dosanjh was merely acknowledging that the Liberals had just made Stronach a cabinet minister 'right away'--he could hardly deny it given that morning's events.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The telephone calls of May 17th and 18th

One of the less discussed recordings that Grewal released is a series of phone calls from May 17th and 18th.

Like Grewal's other files, it exists in two forms--recording and transcript--and there are two different versions of each of these. So there are four different files:
  1. tel ud tm.mp3 (19.9MB, created 31/05/05 11:57am, 21 min. 41 sec.)
  2. TelConversations-TM-GG-UD.mp3 (19.3Mb, created 07/06/05 1:32am, 21 min. 4 sec.)
  3. "4Telconversations-TimMurphy-Gurmant-Grewal-UjjalDosanjh-Gurmant Grewal.pdf" (creation date: May 31st, 10:24 am; length: 5 pages)
  4. TelConversations-TM-GG-UD.pdf (created 7 June, 1:32 am; 7 pages)
(The MP3s can be downloaded here; for the pdfs, check back soon.)

The difference between the files is a bit puzzling. The mp3 released on May 31st is 37 seconds longer, which is odd given that the later file should be the more complete one. But the May 31st mp3 is corrupt: there is only 3 min 38 seconds of sound (that is, it has conversations #1-3, below), and from that point onwards the file is blank (as far as I can tell).

Also, each of calls in the second file is slightly shorter than the first--that is, if you queue up the two mp3s so that one plays in each ear, the May 31st mp3 slowly falls behind the June 7th by about one second per minute of conversation. I'm not sure what this means--might the transfer of the original mini-cassettes to digital have been done on different machines? or perhaps different compression in the ripping of the MP3?

The files contain five phone calls over the 17th and 18th:
  1. The first call with Dosanjh. The contents of the call make it clear that this comes shortly after the meeting with Dosanjh and Murphy. Dosanjh restates that there will be no clear deal: 'The Prime Minister is never going to say say to you that I'll give you X'; he also says that an apology with Volpe can only be arranged if Grewal decides to cross the floor: 'If there is an understanding, Volpe would happen before you speak.
  2. The first call with Murphy. This occurs on the night of the 17th. Grewal is coming out of caucus--the emergency caucus meeting called in reaction to Stronach's defection. Grewal presses on that the apology from Volpe be arranged. Murphy says an apology can be made, implying that it will happen if Grewal crosses the floor: GG - 'So will he go ahead and issue an apology?' TM - 'Umm, well, I understand in the right context'. They arrange to meet in Grewal's office the next morning at 10 am.
  3. The second call with Dosanjh happens on the 18th, following his meeting with Murphy. Dosanjh mentions meeting Murphy after lunch, so this is early afternoon. Dosanjh, speaking in Punjabi implies that Grewal might be made Parliamentary Secretary after a few weeks (assuming the translation is not misleading) and encourages Grewal to meet with the Prime Minister that evening.
  4. The second call with Murphy. The reception is not good on Grewal's phone so he asks Murphy to phone him back in a few minutes.
  5. The third call with Murphy. Murphy seems to assume that Grewal has agreed to cross the floor and advises him how to describe his decision--that there was no reward offered. Grewal tells him, however, 'I won't do anything until the uncertainty element is removed', that is, until he knows what his reward is.
The important point from the interpretative context is that the final three calls come after Grewal's meeting with Murphy on the 18th.

FAQ 4i. When did Harper learn about the negotiations and what did he do?

Grewal began negotiating with the Liberals about changing parties on May 15th (when he and Kalia first made contact) and met with them on the 16th, 17th, and 18th (see here for an overview). When did Harper learn of these negotiations?

In a press scrum at the beginning of June (here), Harper said:
Harper: 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. 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.
[*This is a mistake for the 17th: for a full discussion of the details, see here]

According to this, Harper learned about the negotations on the evening of the 17th, and on the morning of the 18th about the possibility of Grewal's meeting with the Prime Minister.

What did he do? Here Harper says only he told Grewal not to meet with Martin and to stop the tapings. (See Grewal's description of Harper's directions, here.)

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Monday, November 07, 2005

FAQ 4a. Can you provide an overview of the negotiations as a whole?

The negotations that the Grewal tapes contain were revealed to the public in dribs and drabs. There was the eight minutes of tapes on May 18th; the heavily edited tapes of May 31st; followed by the fuller tapes/transcript of June 2-5. All of this was accompanied by assertion, counter-assertion, direction, and mis-direction of both sides during the entire period.

Here is, I think, how the negotiations went in outline, cutting out the courtship rituals. What I place in square brackets I regard as [reasonable supposition], double square [[less certain speculation]]; what I leave unbracketed I regard as demonstrated to a reasonable level of certainty by entries in this blog.

  1. Kalia tapes. [Grewal approached the Liberals through an intermediary (Sadesh Kalia)], whose role was to bring Dosanjh and Grewal together. [Before the negotiations proceeded to the next stage, the Liberals will have committed themselves to unchallenged Liberal nominations for both Gurmant and Nina.]

  2. May 16. Pizza date. Grewal and Dosanjh met and, over pizza, [Grewal laid out his price--a seat in cabinet immediately and a senate seat or diplomatic post for Nina [[if she lost the next election]]. Dosanjh argued that a seat in cabinet right away was impossible; he advised Grewal against asking for the senate seat.]

  3. May 17. Stronach defection hits the news.

  4. May 17. Grewal, Dosanjh, and Murphy meet. Grewal insists that Belinda's example proves that his request for a cabinet post immediately, [which Dosanjh had ruled out the night before], was in fact possible; Dosanjh implies that the most Grewal can expect is [a position as parliamentary secretary after a decent interval]. Murphy arrives. After complaining bitterly about Volpe's behaviour, Grewal asks for a senate seat for Nina and fishes for a cabinet post for himself. Murphy explains that a senate seat is impossible and ignores the hints at a cabinet post. Grewal asks that an apology with Volpe be arranged to 'open the door' for further negotiations. The meeting ends.

  5. Dosanjh phones Grewal. Dosanjh explains that a clear deal is impossible; that neither he nor Scott Brison were given clear promises; an apology from Volpe will not be made until an understading is reached.

  6. Murphy phones Grewal. They arrange to meet at 10 am the next morning.

  7. 18th. Grewal and Murphy meet. Murphy suggests that Grewal can keep 'the door open' to further negotiations by abstaining in the coming non-confidence vote. In return, a public apology from Volpe will be arranged. Grewal knows that he cannot do this and still remain a Conservative and says as much. If he voted against his party he would be expelling himself from the Conservative Party without suitable recompense. He therefore declines. [In essense, he is offered an apology for an abstention. This is not enough.]

  8. After lunch, Dosanjh phones Grewal and strongly hints that Volpe will apologize if Grewal decides to cross the floor, and that a position as Parliamentary Secretary will follow after a decent interval.

  9. Murphy phones Grewal. Poor reception on Grewal's cell phone requires Murphy to hang up and try again. Murphy coaches Grewal on what to say if he does cross. Grewal informs Murphy that he 'won't do anything until the uncertainty element is removed'. Both sides leave it there.
It was later that evening that Grewal announced that he had been approached by the Liberals and offered a Cabinet post and Senate seat if he would abstain from the next day's vote.

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

FAQ 6e. Might the law have been broken in the editing of the tapes? (with KN)

The Grewal tapes were heavily edited before being released to the public (see the overview here). The question is whether this broke the law. I asked for an opinion my friend KN, who wrote the following
The most relevant law is probably Section 372 of the Criminal Code:
372. (1) Every one who, with intent to injure or alarm any person, conveys or causes or procures to be conveyed by letter, telegram, telephone, cable, radio or otherwise information that he knows is false is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
The Elements are:
1) Intent to injure any person
2) Conveys or causes or procures to be conveyed by...otherwise
3) that he knows is false
The tapes were clearly posted with the intent to injure Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy. They were conveyed by Internet, which is almost certainly included in "otherwise". As a result, anybody who posted these on the Internet with the knowledge that they were false is probably guilty of breaking this law.
It strikes me that the debate would soon turn to the question of how much editing it takes to create a falsehood and whether the editing of these tapes qualifies.


FAQ 4c. Why is it important who approached whom?

Grewal insists that the Liberals approached him. The Liberals insist the opposite. Why does it matter?

The question is important for both sides' spin of the affair. Grewal has claimed that he never intended to change parties and that he'd only pretended to be interested in changing parties after the Liberals had asked him to do so. That story would be much more difficult to accept if he was the one who asked to join the Liberals.

The Liberals, on the other hand, see it as much less embarrasing to them if they are perceived to have been reacting to Grewals' offer rather than making one of their own.

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What Grewal's website used to look like, Pt. 3 (June 4th, 2005)

If you had surfed over to Grewal's website in the weeks and months following May 31st, you would've seen a screen capture below (apart from the pink numbering).
The files that would be downloaded when you clicked on the links, however, was changing. For a list of the files available there on May 31st, see here; one file was changed late June 2nd; and sometime before June 4th, another one was.

Up until that date, clicking on the audio link for Grewal's with Murphy on the 18th produced "tm meeting.mp3" (created May 31, 11:58 am; 3.6 mb; l3 min. 59 sec.). This file contains part of Grewal's conversation with Tim Murphy from the morning of May 18th.

Now, that link produced TM.mp3 (created June 1, 9:14 am; 23.7 mb; 25 min. 34 sec.). Although this file was created 1 June, it was not added to the Grewal site until sometime on the 3rd or 4th. To compare its contents to the earlier versions of the tape that had been released, see here, where the text next to the red margin is the May 31st tape; the yellow is what was released May 18th; the whole text is the transcript for the tape released June 3rd-4th.)

What Grewal's website used to look like, Pt. 2 (June 2nd, 2005)

As I have pointed out,, the webpage in which Grewal made the tapes and transcripts available, has been removed. The site as it looked originally can be seen here, and a list of the files that were originally downloadable there, here.

On June the 2nd, after audio experts had begun to testify that the clips on Grewal's site had been tampered with, the Conservatives released a clarification (dubbed a suicide note by the Conservative staffer who distributed it) in which (1) the problems on one recording were blamed on technical difficulties and (2) it was stated that a new version of that recording had been mounted on Grewal's website.

The website itself remained unchanged. What was different is that there was now a different file behind one of the links.

Now clinking on the 'Download audio' link yielded file (#9) instead of file (#3).

9. "GWTM.mpga" (size 12.5 mb; length 55 min, 44.85 seconds; creation date, June 2, 2005, 7:51 PM), which replaces
3. "tm-ud meeting.mp3" (actual size: 36.9 mb, length: 40 min. 30 seconds; creation date, May 31st 11:47 am).

As you can see, it was prepared only a few hours before its release at about midnight June 2nd. You'll also notice that it is 15 minutes longer, or (to put it the other way around) the May 31st version had had 15 minutes cut out of it. The difference between the two files is best illustrated graphically: it is what is yellow in the slide show or red in this transcript (that transcript, of course, was only released a few days later and will be be subject of pt. 3 of this series.)

(For descriptions of files #1-#8, see here.)

Saturday, November 05, 2005

What Grewal's website used to look like, Pt. 1 (May 31st, 2005)

As I pointed out a couple days ago, Grewal has recently taken down the webpage where he had released his famous recordings and transcripts. Here is screen capture of what it used to look like; I've added the pink numbers in order to give you a key of what files were there.

The files that were downloaded through the eight links were as follows:
  1. *"SK Tel.mp3" (actual size: 7.6 MB, length: 8 min. 26 seconds). This is a sound file containing six phone calls between Sadesh Kalia and Gurmant Grewal. One is from Sunday, May 15th; the rest are from Monday, May 16th.
  2. *"3Telconversations-SudeshKalia-GurmantGrewal.pdf." (actual size: 7.7 MB, length: 4 pages). The first three pages of this file provides a translation (and) transcript (with explanatory notes) of the soundfile #1 (recordings of Grewal's phone calls with Kalia). The fourth page is a partial log from Grewal's Blackberry from mid-day on the 16th to the 18th. (It does not include first three calls in the transcript, nor any calls not made on the Blackberry.)
  3. *"tm-ud meeting.mp3" (actual size: 36.9 mb, length: 40 min. 30 seconds; creation date, May 31st 11:47 am). This is an edited version of Grewal's meeting with Dosanjh and Murphy on May 17th.
  4. *"2Conversation-TimMurphy-UjjalDosanjh-GurmantGrewal.pdf" (created May 31st, 10:42 am; length: 10.5 pages.) This is a transcript of soundfile #3. Dosanjh arrives first and while they are waiting for Murphy much of the conversation is in Punjabi; the transcript translates this Punjabi into English. (This file can be seen NealeNews and the CBC.)
  5. "tel ud tm.mp3" (actual size: 19.8 mb; length 21 min 45 sec). This recording contains phone calls between Grewal and Dosanjh and Grewal and Murphy from May 17th and 18th.
  6. "4Telconversations-TimMurphy-Gurmant-Grewal-UjjalDosanjh-Gurmant Grewal.pdf" (creation date: May 31st, 10:24 am; length: 5 pages)
  7. *"tm meeting.mp3" (actual size: 3.6 mb; length: 3 min. 59 seconds). This file contains part of Grewal's conversation with Tim Murphy from the morning of May 18th.
  8. *"1Conversation-TimMurphy.pdf" (creation date: May 31st, 10:21:56 am; length: 11 pages) This file is a transcript of Grewal's meeting with Tim Murphy form the morning of May 18th; it contains significantly more of that conversation than file #7

*Files marked with asterisks were replaced over the week or so following their first release.

Friday, November 04, 2005

FAQ 4b. Who initiated the discussions?

One question that got much play early-on in the Grewal affair was who approached whom. Did Grewal approach the Liberals? or did the Liberals approach him? For the importance of this question to the Liberals and Conservatives, see here.

Grewal insisted that the Liberals approached him: in his news conference of May 18th (a transcript of which I've prepared here, where he first revealed that these negotiations had taken place and that he had taped them:
I responded to Mr. Dosanjh's invitation and entered these discussions to determine the level to which the Liberal party and Paul Martin were willing to sink to save their government.
By the following morning (19th), Grewal had clarified this. When asked in his Canada AM interview with Beverley Thomson (transcript here) whether the first phone call had come from Murphy, Grewal answered "No, it was through a common friend".

That friend, Sadesh Kalia (on whom, see here), came forward later that same day and identified himself, contradicting Grewal and insisting that Grewal had asked him to contact the Liberals on his behalf. Two weeks later, however, two associates of Kalia came forward and reported that he had told them that the Liberals wanted to entice a Conservative to change parties (see here).

The tapes themselves may be of some helpf. At one point, while Murphy was instructing Grewal that if he should cross, both sides would deny making the initial approach, assigning responsibility to the intermediary: "So you didn't approach, we didn't approach", to which Grewal responds "Uh, they approached me" (p. 7). But even if Grewal is making the claim that the Liberals had made the initial approach, that would not be decisive, since Grewal knows that he is taping the conversation.

There are points in the conversation where Grewal and Dosanjh seem to assume that Grewal had been the initiator (see here).


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Grewal removes recordings from his website

Beginning on May 31st, the day that Grewal released an edited version of his tapes, it was possible to download recordings (in mp3) and transcriptions (pdf) of the some of his negotiations. These were his website at

Now, the files that you could download there were not always the same (see here, here, here). But Grewal has now removed the possibility of hearing these conversations for yourself. Sometime in the last month or so, however, Grewal has removed the page.

As it happens, however, I took a screen capture. So for posterity's sake, here what it used to look like:


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

$67,744.80 and not a penny less!

My blog is worth $67,744.80.
How much is your blog worth?

FAQ 3e. Did the Ethics Commissioner clear Grewal of impropriety in the Visa-Bond Affair?

The Ethics' Commissioner's report can be read in full here.

The final two paragraphs of the report read
This suggests that this case fits best the situation contemplated by the Code in regards to “mitigated contraventions”. Subsection 28(5) of the Code provides that if the Ethics Commissioner concludes that a Member has not complied with an obligation under this Code but has done so through inadvertence or an error in judgment made in good faith, he can recommend that no sanction be imposed.

Mr Grewal has not fully complied with an obligation under the Code, but I believe that his actions were an error in judgment made in good faith. It is my recommendation that given that his intentions, however misguided, were reasonable and that the practice has now ceased, no sanction be imposed. I would also recommend that Mr Grewal find a way to inform his constituents of the change in his practice.

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FAQ 3d. What part of the MPs' Conflict of Interest Code might Grewal's visa-bonding practice have breached?

After Grewal had revealed to the Immigration committee that he had made a regular practice of getting constituents to sign commitments to provide bonds before supporting sponsorship applications, Joe Volpe referred the matter to the House of Commons Ethics Commissioner, who was asked to consider Grewal's practice in light of the House of Commons Conflict of Interest Code (which you can read yourself, here). Specifically, he was asked to
determine whether the alleged practice of Mr Gurmant Grewal, Member of Parliament (MP) for Newton-North Delta, of requesting personal bonds from persons seeking his support on immigration matters could be a contravention of the Member’s obligations under the Code. Minister Volpe further emphasized his concern that the use of a bond could lead others to question whether Mr Grewal’s support for the application could be purchased, whether Mr Grewal had the bond guaranteed to him personally and whether the practice could lead others to question whether Mr Grewal was seeking to profit financially from his position as a MP.

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buckets of puns

Sifting through some old, half-written posts and notes, I noticed this old story that I never posted. Warren Clements of the Globe and Mail had a contest. Read on…

Let's twist words

Saturday, July 2, 2005 Page D14
E-mail Warren Clements

The challenge was to amend the title of a well-known poem or song to reflect any part of the Gurmant Grewal controversy: the Conservative MP's taping of conversations with senior Liberals, the talk of possible rewards if he and his wife (also an MP) crossed the floor, the apparent editing of the tapes and the investigations into the case. Almost everyone submitted Don't Be Grewal. Where there were duplicates, I flipped a coin.

The winner:

Begin the Beguile. (Margaret Hanna, Regina)

Other scandalous titles:
Thanks for the Memorex. (Michael Capon, Fredericton)
The Long and Rewinding Road. (Thom McKercher, Toronto)
If I Knew You Weren't Coming I'd-a Faked a Tape. (Michael Nozick, Winnipeg)
You Were on My Mike. (Linda Lumsden, Peterborough, Ont.)
Norwegian Wood Be a Nice Diplomatic Posting. (David Roberts, Victoria)
Let's Twist Words Again. (Colin Eyssen, Toronto)
Ain't Too Proud To Bug. (Rick Farquhar, Kincardine, Ont.)
Copacab(click)inet post. (Bill Kummer, Halifax)
The Wreck of the Aspirants. (Barrie Collins, Courtenay, B.C.)
The Thomas Gray poem Grewal's Alleging. (F. W. Morgan, Perth, Ont.)
You're Nobody Till Somebody Bugs You. (Jay Cates, Comox, B.C.)
Snitchcraft. (Jay Cates, Comox, B.C.)
First I'll Take Manhattan, Then a Cabinet Post, and My Wife Will Take Berlin. (Geoff Williams, Victoria)
Now, If You Had a Million Dollars. (Cheryl Ashley, Winnipeg)
(All We Know It's Just) Another Trick in Grewal. (Brian Yamashita, Ottawa)
Barrage Over Troubled Patter. (Marilyn Penner, Winnipeg)
If Ever I Would Believe You. (Marilyn Penner, Winnipeg)
It's a Wrong Way to Tip a Tory. (Audrey M. Bates, Moncton)
Private Enhancer. (Arthur Chapman, Winnipeg)
Oh, My Daring Clandestine. (Sylvia Betts, Vancouver)
Splice, Splice Baby. (Sylvia Betts, Vancouver)
That's the Way (Uh Huh, Uh Huh) I Spliced It. (Rosemary Alfers, Ottawa)
You'll Never Talk Alone. (Leslie McKillop, Truro, N.S.)
It Was Just One of Those Stings. (Roberta Baird, Toronto)
Let's Call the Whole Thing Off the Record. (Joan Buckingham, Oshawa, Ont.)
I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You Copenhagen. (Marie Vernon, Ottawa)
We Gotta Get More Out of This Place. (Gordon Findlay, Toronto)
It Ain't Necessarily "No." (Fred Farr, Thornhill, Ont.)
I Get a Kickback Out of You. (Leslie G. Andrews, Vancouver)
Nice Perk If You Can Get It. (Ken Purvis, Toronto)
Come on-a My Side of the House. (Ken Purvis, Toronto)
Why Not Tape All of Me? (Bob Muirhead, Lakeshore, Ont.)
Canadian Payload Trilogy. (Eric Mendelsohn, Toronto)
(The Reels Are Alive with) The Sound of Musings. (Sudhir Jain, Calgary)
Do Nothing Till You Hear from Paul. (I. D. Beardsley, Montreal)
That's What I Like About Mute. (Trish McSweeney, Toronto)

FAQ 3c. How many visa-bond commitments did Grewal collect and what was their value?

Although Grewal has publicly stated that he has asked for commitments to supply a visa-bond in fifteen cases (see here), Ethics Commissioners' report informs us that Grewal maintained this practice for four years (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005) and collected 232 forms. The amounts pledged varied from $1000 to $250,000.

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