This is odd…
Update. If you look at the comments you can see that this post gave some offense. I've deleted it.
The Grewal Tapes
Update. If you look at the comments you can see that this post gave some offense. I've deleted it.
There's an interesting article in the Vancouver Sun that reports on the four Surrey ridings, two of which were won by the Grewals in the last election.
I'm not sure exactly what this means, but apparently the Grewal affair is much, um, sexier than I'd ever thought: link. (Hattip to the Pinko Porklett.)
As we've seen, Nina came up quite a bit in Grewal's discussions with the Liberals about changing parties. Grewal asked for a senate seat for her, as we saw, but was refused. One of the reasons that Grewal was so keen to get her such an appointment had to do with the electoral realities of her riding.
The Globe and Mail has a profile of Nina that Grewal watchers will no doubt be interested in. On the whole she is portrayed positively. Nina asserts her independence from Gurmant--though one could hardly imagine her doing otherwise.
Grewal ready to run on her ownOther notable news stories about Nina can be found here and here
By GARY MASON
Saturday, December 17, 2005 Page A12
SURREY, B.C. -- It's Nina Grewal, like you've never seen her before. "I was quite a good athlete in school," says Ms. Grewal, sitting behind a large mahogany desk in her Surrey constituency office. "I played all sports. I could do cartwheels, handstands, you name it. Would you like to see?" Are you kidding? Of course I would. Ms. Grewal gets up, finds an open bit of carpet and, within seconds, is standing on her head. And talking at the same time.
"Is this a good handstand?" asks Ms. Grewal, the Conservative MP who is seeking re-election in the riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells. "What do you think, Gary? Can you believe this?" Ah, frankly, no. Nor can I believe the woman I've just spent an hour talking to is the same one constantly depicted in the media as the mindless, deferring puppet of her man, Gurmant, the other half of the first husband-and-wife team to sit in the House of Commons simultaneously.
Gurmant, of course, is the one who got caught up in a bizarre taping scandal last year, which ended up hurting him far more than the Liberals he said he was trying to entrap. When the tapes were later ruled to have been altered, it was Mr. Grewal who took the fall.
When he announced that he was not seeking re-election as the Conservative MP for Newton-North Delta because he didn't want to be a distraction to his party, it left many to wonder -- how would Nina survive in Ottawa without him?
"I will be just fine," she says, leaning forward on her desk. "It is too bad what happened to Gurmant. But as you know, whistle-blowers are always punished, never rewarded. So my husband had to pay the price because he blew the whistle and it's not easy blowing the whistle on the government."
For the record, Ms. Grewal says she didn't know her husband was going to tape conversations with a key Liberal strategist as well as Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh. When Gurmant later told Nina he had evidence of the Liberals trying to entice the couple with plum posts if they crossed the floor, she thought it would be bad news for the government.
Ms. Grewal is well aware that her opponents will try to use the taping scandal against her in this campaign. Particularly Liberal candidate Brenda Locke, a former B.C. cabinet minister, who has a lead over Ms. Grewal, according to recent polling. So, what will Nina do when Ms. Locke raises the matter?
"If she's going to bring it up she's going to be smacked," Ms. Grewal says. "She's going to be smacked. She's going to be smacked and well, I've got all sorts of things on her from her time in government [provincially] and I'll bring that up."
Smacked? Smacked? Well, we'll all want to be there for that.
There's little doubt Ms. Grewal would rather she not have this issue to deal with in a race as close as hers. There have been many times, I'm sure, when she's wanted to "smack" her husband for coming up with such a stupid idea in the first place.
"Of course there have been times," she says. "Of course. But what's gone is gone, Gary. Let's look at the future. You can't keep repenting what's happened in the past."
If my interview with Ms. Grewal is any indication, it would appear she is determined to remake the image many have of her as the dutiful wife who rarely utters a word unless it is first stamped for approval by her husband. As well, she intends to correct the perception that she's been a useless MP who never has a thing to say in the House.
"First," she says, "people have various ideas that Gurmant always walks in front of me, issuing this instruction to me and that instruction. They don't know that I'm my own person, my own independent person with my own independent thoughts, views and responsibilities. I don't want to be overshadowed by my husband. I'm not a person like that.
"And I also want you to know that in the one and a half years I was in Parliament I'm very proud of my record. Go to http://www.howdtheyvote.ca, and you'll see they rank the MPs based on how much they said and did in the House of Commons. I'm really proud to say that I'm ranked 114 out of 308 MPs. And I've spoken more than 25 cabinet ministers."
As is the case in most ridings, the campaign in Fleetwood-Port Kells is not yet in full swing. After Christmas is when you can expect tight races like this one to take on a different hue and tone. Given the potential material Liberals have to work with, things could get a little nasty.
When her husband decided not to run again, Ms. Grewal said she was sad, but not for a second did she consider not running herself. "Why should I?" she says. "Gurmant was an MP for a long time before I ran for politics. He was away in Ottawa while I was home. Now he can do what I was doing for awhile. I'm Nina Grewal. I'm my own person."
And one who will stand on her head for constituents.
Grewal's negotiations with the Liberals were not going well. He had asked for a senate seat and was told no. He hinted at a cabinet post; the Liberals did not bite, hoping that he would cross anyway.
We know that Grewal arranged to meet Dosanjh at his home for Pizza on the evening of May 16th. The date was arranged in the final phone with Kalia (see here), and Dosanjh mentioned it and described his conversation with Grewal at his press conference of the 18th.
In the days after first going public with his revelations about his secret negotations with the Liberals, Grewal made several specific allegations. For example, in his interview on CTV with Beverly Thompson on May 19th he said:
Mr. Tim Murphy came to my office as late as yesterday and he was making these aggressive offers and negotiating and making deals.
Thompson: Aggressive offers because they were saying that they were saying that they'd give you a plum position in some way.
Grewal: That's right.
Thompson: And were they specific about that?
Grewal: Yah, they were talking about diplomatic position and senate seats.
One of the worst moments in the tapes for the Conservatives comes on p. 13 of the June 5th transcript. After complaining bitterly about his tangles with Joe Volpe over the last election and Grewal's visa bond scheme, and Murphy suggests that an apology from Volpe might be arranged, Grewal makes his moves:
Once Tim Murphy arrived, he, Grewal, and Dosanjh discussed the general political situation, the way that the independents might vote in the coming parliament, and the potential impact of the defection: Grewal remarks that the effect will be felt around the world. (It's unsurprisingly, really, that all this was edited out of May 31st tapes: Grewal's vanity makes one cringe, here.)
Continuing our review of places in the tapes where Nina appears (begun here and here). When we last saw our favorite ex-MP, he had confirmed that he had spoken to Nina, and that he and Nina would not cross unless they got 'something good quickly' here). After commenting again on the closeness of the coming votes in the House of Commons, Dosanjh gives Grewal some advice. Here is the May 31st transcript:
Here is the June 5th transcript (yellow marks what is new there):
What are the differences?
UD Vaise taa, it is not an easy thing. I wouldn’t. You really have to think. Main aap sochda haan, Waheguru karega taa it might be possible. Nobody will make you totally blunt promise. That is not done is politics usually. (NOT CLEAR). You might be better off for yourself, about asking all you are looking for is for your wife rather than for you, because you will have a pension or something, you can go right away… You can ask for both, but that might be the only thing that might be feasible. I haven’t talked to them, that’s just my way of thinking. Main tuhade naal gal kar riha haan, tusi kidaan karna hai vekh lao. I think you should tell Tim what you have in mind. Edaan nahin kadey vee hunda ki mainu aah cheez chahidi hai taan karoon. Then that’s not good for you. I know that you might not be ready to do it right now you certainly be looking for a significant appointment for her, not for you. How old are you now? In fact, it is not an easy thing. I wouldn’t. You really have to think. My own thinking is that, if the God wishes, it might be possible. Nobody will make you totally blunt promise. That is not done is politics usually. (NOT CLEAR). You might be better off for yourself, about asking all you are looking for is for your wife rather than for you, because you will have a pension or something, you can go right away… You can ask for both, but that might be the only thing that might be feasible. I haven’t talked to them, that’s just my way of thinking. I am just telling you, you decide what to do. I think you should tell Tim what you have in mind. It never works like this that you give me such and such thing and I’ll do it. Then that’s not good for you. I know that you might not be ready to do it right now you certainly be looking for a significant appointment for her, not for you. How old are you now? AA 47 47 BB te tuhadi pension? And your pension? AA Athth saalan ‘ch In 8 years BB Athth saalan lai? For 8 years? AA Athth saalan tak… 55 lug jange After 8 years… I will be 55.
The Canadian Blog Awards have been announced and I'm thrilled to report that Buckets of Grewal has won two golds and a silver:
We know that the tapes were heavily edited (see here) and the editing was not accidental (see here). We also know where the tapes were edited.
For those coming late, I've been reviewing the role of Nina Grewal in the Grewal affair. For the first two places where she appeared in the tapes, see here and here.
Grewal here refers to the decision to change parties as a mutual one: whether he and Nina will go ahead with the defection depends on "what we get, if we get something good, then it can be done right away".
UD (5'33) tusi Nina naal gal kIti hai (5'33) Have you talked to Nina? GG haanji, dovein decided ta nahin haan, dwindling jihe haan. Depend karde, ki milda ki hai. Je ta quick changa haiga taa tahra tarhi ho jaye, je zyada hee ho jaaye taa baad vich haali karaange. Yes. Both of us are not decided, we are kind of dwindling. It depends on what we get. If we get something good quickly, then it can be done right away. But if it is too much (of waiting) then we’ll do it later. UD It is difficult. You know the situation. Ais haalat vich kujh nahin ho sakda. Cabinet is quick It is difficult. You know the situation. Nothing can be done in the present circumstances. Cabinet is quick GG kithe vi ho jaaye je halaan …(NOT CLEAR ) vich jagah naa hove. May be any other place, if at present there is no place in …. (NOT CLEAR) UD You lose numbers. You lose numbers You lose numbers. You lose numbers GG Number taa tuhanu immediately mil jaane, … te ik ne Senate vich jaane You will get numbers immediately. … And one has to go to Senate. UD Agle chhe mahine taa number nahin rehne. Jehrha banda chalaa jayega… There won’t be numbers for the next six months. The person who goes … GG Haan, haan, I understand Yes, yes I understand
Grewal has spent much of the last months avoiding the press. In the last week he has granted an interview to the Hindustan Times (see here). Here it is:
An Indian drama in Canada polls
CANADA DIARY | Gurmukh Singh
December 4, 2005
Much should be read (or not) into the decision of the Indo-Canadian MP Gurmant Grewal not to seek re-election to the House of Commons this time around. The minority Liberal party government, led by Paul Martin, fell last week, necessitating a fresh general election. Grewal represents the Newton-North Delta riding (constituency) in the Canadian Parliament.
The young Indo-Canadian made headlines this summer when he recorded his conversation with Canadian Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, a fellow Indo-Canadian, when he approached Grewal allegedly with the offer of 'rewards' if he jumped to the Liberal party or voted for the Liberal party to save the government from falling during the no-confidence motion.
Grewal also taped his conversation for Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff Tim Murphy and went public with them, saying that the Liberal party tried to bribe him and his wife Nina Grewal, who represents another riding, just before the vote.
After the government survived because of the speaker's vote, the tape issue led to political mudslinging.
Ujjal and Murphy said they never made any offer to Grewal, and that the tapes released to the media were selective and doctored.
The issue was referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and now is pending before the Ethics Commission.
In the wake of the tape scandal, the media went tong and hammers after Grewal as he was already involved in another issue impinging on his integrity. It related to his seeking guarantee of thousands of dollars from those who sought the MP's help in securing visiting visas for their relatives. Grewal said he wanted this to ensure that the visitors didn't stay back in Canada.
Now when the house has fallen and the tape scandal is still fresh, Grewal says he has decided not to seek re-election for the simple reason that he doesn't want the Opposition to use this issue in the election. He spoke with this correspondent about his future course of action.
Doesn't your decision to pull out of the fray amount to capitulation to the Liberal party onslaught against you?
No, it is not. I have served the House thrice for nine years and am proud of what I have accomplished. Now that they - the Liberal party and the national media - are resorting to dirty tactics, I have decided not to let them take further advantage of the issue. I am clean and I am all for accountability in public life. It is dirty politics by the Liberals who will go to any lengths to save their government. People have seen their real face before the last no-trust motion - how they lured Opposition MPs.
It is said that you and your party were selective in releasing the tapes and that they were doctored?
It is all part of their propaganda. When I blew the whistle in May, they made all these accusations. They referred the issue to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). I came out clean. And then with an eye on the election, they referred the matter to the Ethics Commission (come to think of it, the RCMP has a higher profile than the Ethic Commission). Now that that report is going to be critical of the Liberal party they have not tabled it in the house.
[buckets notes: it was not the Liberals who referred the matter to the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner, but the NDP and Bloc.]
Don't you think you could have fought them more effectively by staying in the fray?
I don't want my leadership to be distracted by the Liberal propaganda. I made the decision in the larger interest of the party and conveyed this to my leader Stephen Harper. He appreciated my views and allowed me to take this step. The Conservastive party will form government this time.
So you could be rewarded later for your sacrifice?
No, I am not after any office. I was offered cabinet position thrice but I refused. I have never made deals in my life. Let me emphasise that whatever I set out to do in life, I did very well in that field. Before leaving India, I did my MBA and was a very successful executive with a multinational in the early 1980s (!). In Liberia where I moved after marrying Nina, I was a successful businessman and university professor. Then I came here in the early 90s and became an MP within just six years. When my wife became an MP this year, we became the first MP couple in Canada!
In the House of Commons, I have the record of speaking more than any of the 308 MPs. Till now; I have introduced 45 bills and motions. Out of these, two have passed. One has become a law of this land. Which is a record in Canadian parliamentary history - that an Opposition MP's bill became law. And mind you, it was a substantial bill in the sense that it was a regulatory bill.
For my record and perfect attendance in the house, they gave me the award of 'Iron man.'
Furthermore, I was the first to raise in Parliament the issue of recognition of foreign degrees in Canada. Then, in 1999, I introduced the whistle-blower bill for protection to those who expose wrongdoings in public life.
Even my opponent will tell you that I repeatedly raised the issue of apology from the government for the Komagata Maru episode. It was I didn't care about Canada's sanctions on India after N-blasts in May 1998 and went to Delhi to meet Indian leaders. I fought for lifting of those sanctions. I exposed corruption in the Canadian missions in New Delhi and Islamabad, raised the issue of recognition for the five Sikh - five Ks -- symbols, and the discrimination against seniors from Asia who are eligible for pension only 10-year stay in Canada while those coming from Europe are eligible for it straightway.
Will you campaign for your wife?
Yes. I will go out to people and explain my decision. Nina is on a solid ground.
As many of you know, we are now in the last day of voting in the Canadian Blog Awards.
Nina Grewal (Conservative candidate in Fleetwood-Port Kells) was mentioned several times in the Grewal tapes, which is natural enough given that Gurmant and the Liberals were discussing the defection of both Grewals. The first was when Sadesh Kalia makes clear to Gurmant that both Nina and he are invited to discuss changing parties with Ujjal Dosanjh over pizza. (For the call, see here).
UD Obviously, you would only do if it is the right thing for you. It is always the right thing for us. Obviously, you would only do if it is the right thing for you. It is always the right thing for us.
Vanouverite Ken Gardiner raises some interesting questions about Grewal's recent decision to leave politics (here)
I don’t think Gurmant Grewal will be out of the game for long. His MP wife Nina is the ace up his sleeve and it’s time to reshuffle the deck. I predict that he will use Nina to continue networking while he plans a quick comeback.As Mr. Gardiner points out, the idea that there is much political separation between the two is difficult to sustain: he is known to have coached her politically and (as we'll be exploring over the next few days) felt comfortable negotiating on her behalf.
As I said the other day, I'm pulling together the data on Nina's role in the Grewal affair for the FAQ, which is as yet only half-finished.
It seems that my last entry on Nina touched a bit of a nerve. In the comments to it, you'll find this gem:
Are you really this evil "buckets"?I'm not sure what precisely has so offended our anonymous friend. Nina Grewal is a public figure, the MP for the riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells. Her husband taped his own negotiations about her future (and his), and released those tapes, making them part of the public record. She is now a candidate for re-election. As such, her conduct is surely open to scrutiny.
Trying to smear one Good man was not enough for you, so by ASSOCIATION, you continue this campaign, trying and destroy his wife also? Your tactics seem quite Liberal to me.
You must feel so proud of yourself, you fucking hate-mongerer...
As I said in the previous post, I have been continuing my work on the FAQ (nominated for a blogging award here--please vote for me if you like my work). As part of the preparation on the entry on Nina, I've been reviewing the role that she's played in the story.
|GG||Ihde naal, Nina naal ih effect paina hai …. (inaudible) , Saade nal ih effect paina haiki (4'48) ethnic minority de vich…(inaudible)||She, Nina, will have the effect that … (inaudible). We will have the effect, that in the (4'48) ethnic minority … (inaudible)|
|UD||That’s right. It is easier for you to use the same kind of language. This is the time to keep the country together, you can’t line up with the Bloc. You go out on a higher principle. In a sense people might say … (NOT CLEAR). That is not such a bad thing for you. Like one of your former leaders. She was a leader in your party and she is a senior leader.|
|GG||She was a leadership candidate, yes.|
|UD||She was one of the leaders in the party|
|UD||(5'33) tusi Nina naal gal kIti hai||(5'33) Have you talked to Nina?|
As I said in the previous post, I have been continuing my work on the FAQ (which has been nominated for a blogging award--you can vote for me here if you like). As part of the preparation on the entry on Nina, I've been reviewing the role that she's played in the story.
Grewal said she wasn't at the meetings between her husband and the Liberals and had nothing to do with the tapes. "I didn't participate in the conversations," she said. "I wasn't there at all." In fact, she added, she was in Ottawa* at a training session when Gurmant met the Liberals in Vancouver*.(*I suspect that The Now has gotten this backwards: the Gurmant met the Liberals in Ottawa; Nina, I assume, was in Vancouver.) Nina also complained about the media's interest in her.
She's "particularly troubled" about a story that appeared in the Globe and Mail on June 11, headlined "Nina Grewal's degree in political silence." The story, she said, claimed "I'm just a silent person not talking on anything. Why would I, when I was not part of this controversy?The tapes give a slightly different picture, however. On the morning of May 17th, Grewal met Dosanjh and Murphy to discuss changing parties. He came alone, but the Liberals wanted both he and Nina to defect. Before Murphy arrived, Dosanjh and Grewal discussed the situation. Grewal has explained how valuable they would be to the Liberals (thanks to Raj, Sohn, and Kuldip for help with the Punjabi):
UD (5'33) Have you talked to Nina? (5'33) Have you talked to Nina?
Asked what she considered to be the worst day in all of this, Grewal replied, "the whole thing was the worst for me."This, of course, was on of the most enduring images of the affair. Gurmant having disappeared, and Nina running away from reporters. A picture's worth…
Still, one incident particularly came to mind: "The CBC, they chased on me, I was in the washroom and they just put the cameras on the washroom that Nina's going to come out_they were after me all the time."
She's "particularly troubled" about a story that appeared in the Globe and Mail on June 11, headlined "Nina Grewal's degree in political silence." The story, she said, claimed "I'm just a silent person not talking on anything. Why would I, when I was not part of this controversy?"The Globe's story is worth revisiting, since its thrust is not merely that Nina is a quiet person, but that she'd become little more than an extension of her husband in Parliament. Is that fair? Perhaps not. But many observers both inside the party and out seem to have shared it. (For the Globe story on Nina, see here.)
"The Globe and Mail did that hatchet story on me _ I'm such a silent person out there, I don't speak, I'm a dummy MP, and I won't let them do that to me."
Yes, I know. He's gone and I should move on to other things. But for the sake of completeness, I'm sure regular readers will be interested to see that The Surrey Leader (archived here) interviewed Grewal about his decision to quit.
Grewal trailed in poll, but it wasn't a factor
By Dan Ferguson Staff Reporter
Dec 02 2005
I could have won, insists Newton-North Delta MP
A Conservative Party of Canada poll carried out before Newton-North Delta MP Gurmant Grewal resigned showed the controversy-plagued MP faced an uphill battle for re-election. "I was running behind," Grewal told The Leader on Wednesday, the day after he announced he would not be running in the current election.
Grewal would not reveal the exact numbers in the recent poll, except to say he wasn't behind by much. "It was neck and neck."
Grewal said the poll results did not prompt his decision, adding he's won come-from-behind victories three federal elections in a row. "Every single time I was underestimated."
He said he made his decision to withdraw on Monday after learning the Liberals were planning to revive the controversy that erupted when he secretly taped discussions with senior Liberals about him joining the party.
It would be a "smear campaign," Grewal said, one that would twist the facts and paint him as a person of questionable ethics.
Grewal has said the Liberals sought him out and dangled plum jobs to get him to cross the Commons floor, while the Liberals claimed Grewal was the one who made the approach and angled for the postings.
He maintains there are no new revelations that could be used against him. "If I look in my closet, there is not enough inventory in it," he said.
Another factor in his decision was the delayed release of a report on the taping by Parliament's ethics commissioner. Grewal understood the report would be released before the election, and had heard rumours that it would be critical of the Liberals' conduct during the discussions. But without those findings, Grewal said he knew it would be easier for the Liberals to distract voters and divert attention from the governing party's sponsorship scandal. "The dogs (would) keep barking," he said.
Grewal admitted to some frustration, even anger at the way the taping controversy played out. He is proud of having a tough hide, but he tensed and his eyes narrowed for a moment when he was asked about Conservative leader Stephen Harper's decision to crack a joke during a parliamentary press gallery dinner in Ottawa about Grewal re-editing a video tape of a hockey game.
Then, he shrugged it off and said Harper was simply poking fun at news coverage, and he remains confident of his leader's support.
Beyond working "as a family member" to help his MP wife Nina get re-elected, he said he hasn't decided what comes next. He confirmed he has been sounded out about being a talk-show host on a local Punjabi-language radio station, but described it as a tentative offer and only one of several possibilities open to him.
"I'm an optimistic man," he said. "I have an MBA (master of business administration degree). I have options."
He said he may write a book about his experiences as one of the first South Asians to be elected to parliament in Canada.
Grewal is proud of his record, listing off accomplishments that include forcing the federal government to remove radioactive material from Surrey storage sites, campaigning to win legal protection for whistle-blowers and the elimination of taxes on taxes.
In nine years as MP, he said he never took a vacation.
The 47-year-old will not be eligible to collect a parliamentary pension until he turns 55.
"I used to think politics is a noble profession," he said. Now, he said the battering he took over the tapes and other issues has left him "somewhat cynical" about the way the political game is played.
As everyone knows, Grewal decided against running for re-election in Newton-North Delta. Now the question is who will replace him as a candidate there. Apparently Doug McCallum, who used to be a Liberal, has decided to seek the Conservative nomination (here).
I was pleasantly surprised that someone thought highly enough of my work here to nominate me for the Canadian Blogging Awards--indeed, for three awards in three categories: