Buckets of Data

April 21, 2005

April 21, 2005: Hansard: Volpe withdraws suggestion that Grewal profited personally

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 3:51 pm

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I want the opportunity to respond to a point of order that was made last week, in the interest of demonstrating that some civility and gentlemanliness still exists in the House.

I want to respond to the point of order made by the member for Newton—North Delta. I will advise the House that on the issues that were raised by the member, I still hold my initial position that the issues that prompted that intervention are still worthwhile. I stand by my decision to refer the matter to two outside authorities.

I may have on another occasion given an indication that the member profited personally from that type of action and I want to withdraw that statement.

The Speaker: I thank the hon. minister for the withdrawal of that portion of it. As he knows, I am considering this matter and will get back to the House in due course.

April 16, 2005

April 16, 2005: Grewal comments on Air India acquittals

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 7:47 pm

http://inhome.rediff.com/news/2005/apr/16ai.htm

Kanishka appeal extended: Relatives, politicians unhappy

Arthur J. Pais in New York | April 16, 2005 16:14 IST

As the prosecutors in the Air India bombing case got an extension on their deadline to decide whether to appeal a judge’s decision that released two prime suspects on March 15, relatives of the victims and politicians who are demanding a judicial inquiry into the way the 20-year-old probe was conducted reacted with anger and dismay.

Justice Risa Levine of the British Columbia Court of Appeal said the amount of material the prosecutors have to review and the complexity of the case justified the extension.

The government will have time till May 13 to appeal the acquittals of businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik and gurdwara priest and mill worker Ajaib Singh Bagri charged in the worst mass murder in Canadian history.

The bombing of Air India’s Kanishka killed 329 people, most of them Canadians. A second bomb killed two more at the Tokyo airport.

“I don’t know if the government will want to risk an appeal,” opposition member of the Parliament Gurmant Grewal told rediff.com. He added, “A cloud is hanging over our community and it has to be cleared. And the government has to be made to acknowledge its mistakes.”

A few days ago a non-binding resolution placed by Grewal was passed by the House of Commons. “The government certainly has the capacity to hold an inquiry,” he said, adding, “But the question is whether the government will have the political will to do it.”

Grewal said, “Before the airplane (Kanishka) exploded, there were warnings from inside Canada and from outside about a potential terrorist attack but the government did not do enough. A judicial inquiry could try to find out why.”

“We have to investigate further into the mysterious death of Talvinder Singh Parmar, an alleged mastermind of the plot,” he said.

“The judicial inquiry should also look at the lapses of the Canadian intelligence,” he said, adding, ” Why was at least 150 hours of recorded wiretaps destroyed?”

Grewal added that at the end of 20 years of investigations involving 250 Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 115 witnesses and $150 million (Canadian), no one has been identified or prosecuted.

He asserted that the relatives of the victims would not find closure till the guilty are punished by the legal system.

“The judicial inquiry will at least try to find out where things have been going wrong in the past 20 years,” he said, adding, “And we could draw lessons and avoid similar acts of terrorism in the future.”

The demand for inquiry is becoming steadily stronger and angry words are being exchanged. Conservative leader Stephen Harper blasted the Liberals in the House of Commons over their handling of the affair, asking, “If there were 350 white people on that plane, would we be waiting for an inquiry?”

According to the Canadian newspaper reports, Prime Minister Paul Martin countered angrily, “Any notions of racism are odious and any accusations of such are simply not acceptable.”

Many relatives of the victims told rediff.com that they have no confidence that the government will appeal the verdict favouring Malik and Bagri, and even if it did, it may not be able to effectively prosecute them.

Soon after the April 12 vote in the Commons in which 172 people backed an inquiry and 124 opposed it, Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan declared that it would be premature to consider an inquiry into the bombing.

Talking to Canadian journalists before the vote, her spokesman said that she would take the result ‘into consideration’ but not necessarily abide by it.

Soon after the vote she met with many relatives of the victims but some relatives stayed away insisting that the government should institute an inquiry before trying to mend fences.

A spokesman for the Air India Victims Relatives’ Association, Susheel Gupta, told reporters the boycott was because McLellan had refused to back the public inquiry.

But McLellan told reporters that ‘an eminent person’, to be appointed by the government would be able to identify issues that need to be investigated.

“There will be a process. It could be a public inquiry or a parliamentary committee… there are other possibilities,” she said, explaining, “And that’s why I want to take the advice of an eminent person, independent of government, to help me decide.”

April 13, 2005

April. 13, 2005: Hansard. Volpe takes another swipe at Grewal in the house

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 3:31 pm

Mr. Rahim Jaffer (Edmonton—Strathcona, CPC): Mr. Speaker, here is what senior Liberal organizer Beryl Wajsman said in Le Devoir about what the Liberal Party really thinks about ethnic minorities: “The Liberal Party of Canada needs the cultural communities only for two purposes, as slaves during an electoral campaign, or to buy tickets”.

The Prime Minister claims that he has the moral authority. How can he explain the immoral contempt his party has for new Canadians?

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, that is really quite a twist. I guess being one of those new Canadians and a minister of the crown qualifies me as being held in contempt.

I think the only contempt that I feel is that which the Leader of the Opposition indicated toward one of his own members yesterday, when on a point of order he took the opportunity to identify the $50,000 that his member from Newton—North Delta charges his constituents in order to write me a letter and the Leader of the Opposition referred to that as criminal activity.

April 12, 2005

April 12, 2005: Grewal demands apology from Volpe in Parliament

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 3:15 pm

From Parliamentary Hansard, April 12, 2005

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Newton—North Delta, CPC): Mr. Speaker, during question period today a Liberal member and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made statements tarnishing my character, integrity and honesty.

The minister accused me of having my constituents post bonds payable to me. That is absolutely false. Neither I nor my staff have ever done so. This issue was raised in the media and has been corrected in the media. The minister should do the honourable thing and stand up and apologize to me and my constituents.

I reserve the right to raise a question of privilege down the road after I review the blues from question period.

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I guess members of the opposition are learning the damage that is caused by allegation, innuendo and slander. However I am not into that game.

All I did was simply read the transcripts from a committee hearing wherein the member for Newton–North Delta actually admitted to all of those things that he now alleges have been fabricated by those on this side of the House. Not only is that type of feeble defence absolutely abhorrent, it is doubly so because the activity to which the member admitted compromises the integrity not only of the immigration system but in fact of the concept of government and service by members of Parliament to their constituents.

If there is anything for which to apologize, I think that the Leader of the Opposition, who is so smug in his concern that others abide by his standard, might stand up in the House and dissociate himself from that practice or admit that he has actually been directing it.

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I certainly will take a look at the blues on that kind of allegation. I think the member knows full well that was a news story that was not correct. He would have us believe that the member of Parliament for Newton–North Delta got up in committee and admitted to some kind of inappropriate or criminal behaviour. Seriously, nobody believes that.

There was a story in the newspaper that was erroneous. I believe the newspaper has even corrected the record on that. We will certainly look at what the hon. member said.

However I must say, with this minister, that I read with some interest his comments about the Sikh community in Toronto. I now see him slandering a Sikh member of Parliament. I think this kind of behaviour toward Sikh Canadians on behalf of the minister of immigration is unacceptable.

The Speaker: It seems to me that we are getting into a debate. If the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has something new to submit to the Chair on this I will hear it, but I do not want to have a continuation of the kind of debate we are getting into here.

Hon. Joseph Volpe: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to at least address a point of order that must be raised. I never suggested that there was criminality. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition accuses his own members of same. I would remind him as well that all the constituents who approached his member of Parliament are from that same Sikh community that they have so desperately maligned. Perhaps it is time that he came out of the closet and stopped being the spineless chameleon that he is known to be.

The Speaker: We will hear one more submission on this from the hon. member for Newton–North Delta but I do not think we need to hear more than that.

Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Mr. Speaker, the minister has restated false information and has misled the House with respect to the citizenship and immigration committee meeting. I clearly stated in the committee that I had not taken money from anyone. Why–

Hon. Joseph Volpe: There is a transcript. Read the transcript.

Mr. Scott Reid: You’re a bigot, Joe.

Hon. Joseph Volpe: Who gets the money?

The Speaker: Order, please. I would urge hon. members to come to order in this case. I have heard enough argument on this matter. My suspicion is that this is a dispute as to facts. However, in the circumstances I am going to review the transcript of the committee that was mentioned. I will also review the remarks made today by hon. members and get back to the House in due course.

April 12, 2005: Question Period: Liberal backbencher asks Volpe about Grewal’s bonding scheme

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 10:03 am

Mr. Mark Holland (Ajax—Pickering, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, amid allegations of $50,000 cheques for bonds being taken through the offices of a Conservative member of Parliament, many members of the House are deeply concerned.

What is the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration doing to look into this matter and how is he going to ensure the integrity of our immigration services are not put up for sale?

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not talking about allegations, but about admissions by the member for Newton—North Delta. It is a very serious misrepresentation of the immigration system, where a member of Parliament asks a constituent to sign a bond of $50,000 to $100,000 made out to his name or to his party in return for writing me a letter.

I have asked the conflicts commissioner to take a look at this. I further will ask him to see who gets that money when the conditions go into default and whether the leader of the–

The Speaker: The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

April 12, 2005: Grewal demands apology from Volpe in Parliament

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 9:58 am

From Parliamentary Hansard, April 12, 2005

Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Newton—North Delta, CPC): Mr. Speaker, during question period today a Liberal member and the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration made statements tarnishing my character, integrity and honesty.

The minister accused me of having my constituents post bonds payable to me. That is absolutely false. Neither I nor my staff have ever done so. This issue was raised in the media and has been corrected in the media. The minister should do the honourable thing and stand up and apologize to me and my constituents.

I reserve the right to raise a question of privilege down the road after I review the blues from question period.

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I guess members of the opposition are learning the damage that is caused by allegation, innuendo and slander. However I am not into that game.

All I did was simply read the transcripts from a committee hearing wherein the member for Newton–North Delta actually admitted to all of those things that he now alleges have been fabricated by those on this side of the House. Not only is that type of feeble defence absolutely abhorrent, it is doubly so because the activity to which the member admitted compromises the integrity not only of the immigration system but in fact of the concept of government and service by members of Parliament to their constituents.

If there is anything for which to apologize, I think that the Leader of the Opposition, who is so smug in his concern that others abide by his standard, might stand up in the House and dissociate himself from that practice or admit that he has actually been directing it.

Hon. Stephen Harper (Leader of the Opposition, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I certainly will take a look at the blues on that kind of allegation. I think the member knows full well that was a news story that was not correct. He would have us believe that the member of Parliament for Newton–North Delta got up in committee and admitted to some kind of inappropriate or criminal behaviour. Seriously, nobody believes that.

There was a story in the newspaper that was erroneous. I believe the newspaper has even corrected the record on that. We will certainly look at what the hon. member said.

However I must say, with this minister, that I read with some interest his comments about the Sikh community in Toronto. I now see him slandering a Sikh member of Parliament. I think this kind of behaviour toward Sikh Canadians on behalf of the minister of immigration is unacceptable.

The Speaker: It seems to me that we are getting into a debate. If the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has something new to submit to the Chair on this I will hear it, but I do not want to have a continuation of the kind of debate we are getting into here.

Hon. Joseph Volpe: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to at least address a point of order that must be raised. I never suggested that there was criminality. I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition accuses his own members of same. I would remind him as well that all the constituents who approached his member of Parliament are from that same Sikh community that they have so desperately maligned. Perhaps it is time that he came out of the closet and stopped being the spineless chameleon that he is known to be.

April 7, 2005

April 7, 2005: Harper threatens to sue Volpe over Grewal allegation

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 7:10 am

The Toronto Sun
April 7, 2005 Thursday
FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 25

HEADLINE: TORIES THREATEN TO SUE

BYLINE: BY BILL RODGERS, OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF

IMMIGRATION Minister Joe Volpe will be slapped with a lawsuit if he alleges a Conservative MP obtained or sought money from B.C. constituents seeking temporary residence visas for relatives and friends.

“I would say to the immigration minister and anyone else with the kind of cloud (the Liberals) are under, they should be very careful,” Tory Leader Stephen Harper warned. “Because we will not hesitate to have them in court as fast as you can say Gomery if they are not correct in those kinds of accusations.”

Volpe delivered a letter to Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro on Tuesday, asking him to investigate reports that Tory MP Gurmant Grewal was asking constituents to post large bonds to ensure their visitors, needing his assistance to enter the country, complied with the terms of the visa.

“I think (Grewal) said that he was taking $50,000 to $100,000 bonds from people,” Volpe said yesterday.

Conservative spokesman Mike Storshaw said Grewal simply asked those seeking his assistance in obtaining a temporary residence visa if they would be willing to post a bond with the government if there was such a legal requirement.

April 6, 2005

Apr 6 2005: CBC Reports: Grewal Blasted Over Visa Follies

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 8:56 pm

B.C. MP blasted over visa guarantees
Last updated Apr 6 2005 10:11 AM PDT
CBC News
VANCOUVER – Canada’s Immigration Minister says the conduct of Newton-North Delta Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal “besmirches everybody and everything” to do with immigration. Joe Volpe says Grewal admitted he has asked his constituents to give him refundable guarantees of $50,000 to $100,000 in exchange for his help in getting temporary visas for visiting friends and family. The guarantees were to ensure some “high-risk” visitors would return home when the visas expired. Volpe said he has asked the federal ethics commissioner to investigate. Grewal told the Commons citizenship and immigration committee last month that he hasn’t cashed any of the guarantees from constituents.

But Volpe said that’s not the point. Volpe said the process of granting temporary visas must be free of political interference. “It unfortunately brings the whole system into disrepute,” he said. “And you have people who think that a system that is supposed to be open and accessible to all – even with all of its faults – is now only accessible to those who are able to put $50,000 down at the table, for a local member of Parliament to intervene. Grewal’s office in Ottawa said the MP was not available to discuss this issue. But a spokesperson said Grewal has never asked for a bond from a constituent. And a Vancouver immigration lawyer said he doesn’t believe Grewal is trying to make a profit, but was just testing how an immigration bill he has proposed might work in practice.

INTERVIEW: The Early Edition’s Rick Cluff speaks with Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. Grewal has introduced a private member’s bill that asks the federal government to collect such a bond from visitors when immigration officers are worried they might try to stay in Canada when their visa expires.

“He honestly believed, in my view, that he had done the right thing,” said immigration lawyer Richard Kurland, who testified in front of the standing committee debating the bill. “The optics are not good, but his intentions were pure.”

Volpe said that will be for the ethics commissioner to decide.

April 6, 2005: Grewal’s press release accusing Volpe of making False Allegations

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 7:26 pm

Press Release from Grewal’s website

Volpe Making False Allegations: Grewal

April 6, 2005 OTTAWA – Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal made the following statement today in response to recent allegations by the Minister of Immigration:

“It is untrue that I have, at any time, received or solicited any money or had any bonds posted to me personally as part of guarantees that individuals, whom I assisted in acquiring visitor visas, would respect the terms of the visas. Any allegations that I did so, or was engaged in any wrongdoing, are false and should be retracted immediately, and could be subject to legal recourse.

“It is true that my private member’s bill, through which a bond process would be established for people to guarantee they will respect the terms of visas, has my support and that of many other Members of Parliament from all parties.”

April 6, 2005: The Now: MP’s $50,000-bond idea raises eyebrows

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 3:00 pm

MP’s $50,000-bond idea raises eyebrows

By Tom Zytaruk

A Surrey Conservative MP’s unorthodox way of dealing with his constituents’ requests for help in getting Canadian visitors visas for their relatives abroad is raising some eyebrows. Gurmant Grewal, MP for Newton-North Delta, has been asking constituents to sign a paper saying they’d be willing to post a bond for $50,000 to ensure the applicant returns to their country on or before the date their visa expires before he’ll vouch for them.

“It’s simply to judge them, if they’re genuine or not,” Grewal said. Grewal said he doesn’t want to be among those MPs who’ve been “blacklisted” by the minister of immigration for vouching for someone who ultimately broke their word.

The Surrey MP said his unusual request is borne of frustration with Canada’s broken immigration system. “The system is a mess and I don’t want to be the victim of this messy system,” he said. Grewal said he’s trying to prevent abuse in the system and protect his own reputation from “being tarnished.”

“There’s no money changing hands,” he said. “This document may not be legally enforceable, but it acts as a litmus test for me to separate people who want to abuse the system, from the genuine people.”

Grewal said he’s asked constituents for written assurances about 15 times and so far only one declined. “I said to them, look, if you’re not prepared to vouch for your own relative, how do expect me to vouch for your relative?” Grewal told the Now.

He said he can’t cash the “guarantees” as no real money or cheque is involved. “It’s not enforceable.”

“This system has nothing to do with cash, nothing to do with ‘I owe you,'” he said.

Grewal revealed his visa policy to a parliamentary committee last week. Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland told the Province newspaper it shocked everyone in the room. “He said he’s done it and I looked over at people and one turned purple,” Kurland is quoted as saying.

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