Buckets of Data

June 13, 2005

June 13, 2005: Conservative says Grewal issue has damaged the party’s brand

Filed under: Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 8:21 pm

Publication title: The Hill Times. Jun 13, 2005. , Iss. 791; pg. 3
Source type: Periodical
ISSN/ISBN: 08480427
ProQuest document ID: 864057401
Text Word Count 1453

Abstract (Document Summary)
The polling company also asked the respondents’opinion about the ongoing Grewal tape affair and 25 per cent of respondents sided with the Liberals, compared to 23 per cent who said they believed Mr. [Nina Grewal]’s version of events. In British Columbia, the home province of Mr. Grewal, 33 per cent of the respondents said they believed the Liberals and 21 per cent for Mr. Grewal.

“I guess that the national gallery tends to be soft on the Liberals…That’s my view, yeah, for sure. Focus has been on Mr. Grewal and they have deliberately, or, unconsciously, ignored the fact that two weeks ago we had a Member of Parliament [Inky Mark] saying, ‘Hey those guys [Liberals] offered me something.’ They [the Liberals] all said, ‘No, we didn’t.’ Then we have an MP coming out with a tape where it’s very clear, he was offered stuff, I’ll let people be the judge whether the reporting was fair,”said Mr. Day.

“There’s nothing illegal about recording a conversation, we’re recording one now. People record conversations many times. People [get] pulled over in the car and the police officers talking to them record conversations. It happens all the time. I share his frustration. I remember two weeks before we had Mr. Mark saying, ‘They offered me something’ and they all went, ‘No, we didn’t, no, we didn’t’ and I think Mr. Grewal was saying if they are offering me something, I’m going to have it on record for everybody to see.”

Full Text (1453 words)
Copyright Hill Times Publishing Jun 13, 2005
But Tory MP Day says media biased against Grewal, focused on edits, not on substance

Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal has done more damage to his own party than to the Liberals by surreptitiously recording and subsequently releasing his behind the scenes conversations with Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, chief of staff to the Prime Minister, says a top Conservative source.

“I disagree with the way Gurmant did this. Frankly, a lot of people within the party are not comfortable with [this]. It’s causing more negative publicity for the [Conservative] party than it’s doing to the Liberals,” said the Conservative source.

The source, who requested anonymity, pointed to a poll conducted by Decima Research and carried by the The Globe and Mail and The Canadian Press which indicated that the Liberals were now 14 points ahead of the Conservatives nationally as of last week. Political pundits immediately interpreted the poll as devastating for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.). According to the survey, 37 per cent of decided voters said that they would support the Liberals, 23 per cent said they would support the Tories and 21 per cent said they would support the NDP.

In the Liberal stronghold of Ontario,Tory support has fallen 26 points behind the Liberals. The Liberals had 48 per cent support, the NDP was at 24 per cent and the Conservatives were in third place with 22 per cent.

The polling company also asked the respondents’opinion about the ongoing Grewal tape affair and 25 per cent of respondents sided with the Liberals, compared to 23 per cent who said they believed Mr. Grewal’s version of events. In British Columbia, the home province of Mr. Grewal, 33 per cent of the respondents said they believed the Liberals and 21 per cent for Mr. Grewal.

Meanwhile, the source told The Hill Times that it would be unfair to attribute all of the blame of the Conservative drop in the polls to the Grewal tapes incident and how it was handled by the party, but “a significant portion of the blame goes to these tapes.”

Ontario Tory Sen. Con Di Nino, who is on the Conservatives’ campaign team, however, denied that the Grewal tapes have negatively affected the party’s fortunes and dismissed the polling results as a snapshot at a particular time.

“It’s one poll, one moment and these polls have been going all over the place, even ours. We’ve seen them jump all over the place. I’m not going to react on it. I don’t think our leader is going to do anything differently, we’re just going to keep on plugging away telling Canadians who we are, what we stand for,”said Sen. Di Nino.

Conservative MP Stockwell Day (Okanagan-Coquihalla, B.C.), his party’s foreign affairs critic, criticized the Parliamentary Press Gallery for being “soft on the Liberals.”

“I guess that the national gallery tends to be soft on the Liberals…That’s my view, yeah, for sure. Focus has been on Mr. Grewal and they have deliberately, or, unconsciously, ignored the fact that two weeks ago we had a Member of Parliament [Inky Mark] saying, ‘Hey those guys [Liberals] offered me something.’ They [the Liberals] all said, ‘No, we didn’t.’ Then we have an MP coming out with a tape where it’s very clear, he was offered stuff, I’ll let people be the judge whether the reporting was fair,”said Mr. Day.

“It’s an interesting reflection on the Parliamentary media gallery that whatever you say about the tapes, something is very clear: you have a minister and the lead man in the Prime Minister’s Office on tape offering goodies to somebody to cross the floor. That is a huge story and what the gallery here is reflecting on was some of the tape edited? It’s very clear whatever else is the issue those high-ranking individuals clearly [offered] goodies.”

When asked if he supported Mr. Grewal’s decision to record the conversations, Mr. Day said: “I understood his frustration because he wanted to have, on record, for everyone to see the depth that the Liberals would go to and try to secure even one vote.”

“There’s nothing illegal about recording a conversation, we’re recording one now. People record conversations many times. People [get] pulled over in the car and the police officers talking to them record conversations. It happens all the time. I share his frustration. I remember two weeks before we had Mr. Mark saying, ‘They offered me something’ and they all went, ‘No, we didn’t, no, we didn’t’ and I think Mr. Grewal was saying if they are offering me something, I’m going to have it on record for everybody to see.”

The Grewal tapes controversy started shortly before the crucial May 19 vote that could have toppled the wobbly Liberal minority government when Mr. Grewal (Newton-North Delta, B.C.) said that senior Liberals approached him with the offer of a Cabinet, Senate or diplomatic job and for his wife, Nina Grewal (Fleetwood-Port Kells, B.C.) if both would either abstain from voting against the government or break ranks with their party. Mr. Grewal also shocked everybody when he revealed that he had secretly recorded those conversations between himself, Mr. Dosanjh (Vancouver South, B.C.) and Mr. Murphy.

The Liberals have strenuously denied any offers were made to Mr. Grewal and accuse the Conservatives of trying to sell their loyalty.

Initially, Mr. Grewal released only eight minutes of the taped conversation with Mr. Murphy but later on, under pressure from the media and politicians from all the parties, he released the transcripts and tapes of about 96 minutes of conversations which indicated that although no explicit offer was made by the Liberals, there were implicit indications from Mr. Dosanjh and Mr. Murphy that after the vote, he and his wife could be rewarded if they abstained from voting or joined the governing party.

Once the story surfaced, Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe (Laurier-Sainte Marie, Que.) wrote a letter to the RCMP to investigate the issue and NDP Whip Yvon Godin (Acadie- Bathurst, N.B.) asked Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro to conduct an investigation.

But Mr. Shapiro initially ruled that he could not investigate Mr. Murphy because he’s an unelected official. Consequently, Mr. Godin wrote a second letter to Mr. Shapiro to request him to investigate Mr. Martin because Mr. Murphy works for the Prime Minister’s Office.

The Prime Minister said in the House of Commons that he and the Health Minister intend to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Since the start of the controversy, it has taken several bizarre twists: On Saturday, June 4, Mr. Grewal again landed in trouble when he showed up at a secured area of the Vancouver International Airport with an audio tape or tapes and requested passengers to transport his unsealed package on a flight to Ottawa. He was told by the airline representatives that he could not ask other passengers to carry his package. Mr. Grewal convinced a male passenger to carry his package to Ottawa.

Consequently, the airline is investigating the incident and has suspended Mr. Grewal’s privileges to use Air Canada’s business class passengers’lounge.

Early last week, it was announced that Mr. Grewal was taking an indefinite stress leave but will not be leaving the Tory caucus.

Upon the release of the tapes several audio experts hired by a number of news organizations said that the tapes released by Mr. Grewal were altered or edited.

The Tories conceded that there were some technical problems with the tapes but that those glitches occurred when audio tapes were copied to a CD. Later on they added 14 minutes of conversation to the already existing estimated 96-minute long recorded tapes.

The Tories on Thursday evening also released a letter from an Ottawa-based audio expert Randy Dash, senior editor and manager of operations of dMAX Media who said that all the tapes from Mr. Grewal are “clean and unaltered.”

Meanwhile, CBC TV’s The National reported on Tuesday that a former business associate of Mr. Grewal’s has accused him of undertaking a phony paper transaction to secure his immigration to Canada in 1993, but Conservatives have dismissed those allegations as unfounded.

Mr. Harper in a scrum after a caucus meeting on June 1 told the reporters that he became aware of the existence of the tapes on Tuesday, May 17 when he had a telephone conversation with Mr. Grewal. According to the dates of the tapes released, Mr. Grewal kept on recording the conversations with the senior Liberals on May 17, 18 and 19.

Geoff Norquay, director of communications to Mr. Harper last week refused to comment whether Mr. Grewal had permission from his leader to record those conversations after he was informed on May 17.

“No comment,”said Mr. Norquay.

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