Buckets of Data

December 2, 2005

Toronto Sun: Dec. 2, 2005: Marsden: why I’m not running

Filed under: Marsden,Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 10:55 pm

The Toronto SunDecember 2, 2005 FridayFINAL EDITIONSECTION: EDITORIAL/OPINION; Pg. 23LENGTH: 601 wordsHEADLINE: WHY I’M NOT RUNNING;A GOOD PUNDIT IS A POLITICAL LEADER’S WORST NIGHTMARE — AND STEPHEN HARPER HAS ENOUGH PROBLEMSBYLINE: BY RACHEL MARSDENBODY:Last week, I received an e-mail that made me wonder if I was being “Punk’d”.”I am wondering if you might consider becoming a candidate in Toronto Danforth for us,” wrote Conservative Party organizer, Georganne Burke. “It would be a fun, high-profile campaign, with Jack Layton and Deborah Coyne as your opponents.”Hanging out with federal NDP leader Jack Layton and former prime minister Pierre Trudeau’s “baby mama” for a couple of months sounds more like a bad reality TV show than a serious political opportunity. The experience would have been like a one-night stand: A quick, dirty, wild romp, zero satisfaction, and a really bad hangover.I briefly considered the request, as evidenced by my official response to related media queries: Gut-busting laughter. And should I ever decide to get a full-frontal lobotomy, I would be happy to reconsider my position — because that’s precisely what it would take for a political columnist to run for public office under the leadership of someone (Stephen Harper) they’ve accused of lacking any sort of political vision or ability to dress himself, flip-flopping on issues critical to conservatives, and possessing “the charisma of a mortician.”Any credible pundit would make a horrible candidate, as it appears the party has finally realized. As the National Post reported, the Conservatives now consider me to be “too high-profile”.What a crock — political parties recruit big-name candidates all the time. The difference is that while those other “high-profile” types would no doubt repeat the party’s daily talking points like good little automatons, I would take the memos from headquarters, cut them up into snowflakes, hang them on my Christmas tree, and then go out and say whatever the heck I felt like saying. And script deviations make great “high-profile” copy.There’s no room for speaking one’s mind in our Canadian system. If your leader doesn’t have a vision, then tough luck — you had sure better not be coming up with one, either.Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, drove this point home when he called the American political system “dysfunctional” because U.S. politicians have a pesky habit of speaking up, rather than toeing the party line to suit the leader like they do here in Canada. Canadian politicians are more whipped than Brad Pitt since he hooked up with Angelina Jolie.Political columnists with any credibility couldn’t follow talking points if their lives depended on it. We’re generally big-mouthed, creative types with strong opinions and a clear vision of where we think things ought to be going — unlike our politicians.American commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have been far more influential in shaping the political landscape from outside the system than any one politician could ever hope to be on the inside. What our country desperately needs if it’s ever going to change political direction is more Rush Limbaughs and fewer political sycophants.Should one of us blowhards end up getting elected, you can bet that we’d be duct-taped to a backbench with a large sock stuffed in our mouth for the duration of the parliamentary session.Political commentators should be loathed by members from all parties — because absurdity and stupidity aren’t the exclusive domain of any one of them. A good pundit is like a reflective storefront window that politicians like to blame for making them look fat, instead of their cheeseburger habit.So I’ll be spending this election campaign doing what I enjoy most: Lampooning political idiocy right here on these pages. And, as usual, no one will be immune.NOTES: Marsden is a Toronto-based political columnist and communications strategist.

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May 28, 2005

May 28th: Edmonton Journal Background on Grewal

Filed under: Marsden,Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 9:54 pm

Is he telling the truth? Doubts linger about Gurmant Grewal: Conservative MP says the Liberals tried to recruit his vote, a charge they deny. However, his past is checkered with other incidents of conflicting stories
Edmonton Journal
Saturday, May 28, 2005
Page: A17
Section: Insight
Byline: Peter O’Neil
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: Vancouver Sun; CanWest News Service

OTTAWA – Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal, who sparked a national furor and a possible police investigation by secretly taping his talks with senior Liberals about joining the government, has been a media magnet since he arrived in Canada and began aggressively seeking political office in the 1990s.

He does boast a number of achievements

He was the only member of the former Canadian Alliance caucus to get a private member’s bill passed, and he’s part of the first husband-and-wife team in Canadian history to sit in the House of Commons. He helped his wife Nina get elected in a B.C. riding adjoining his last year.

But Grewal, who arrived in Canada with Nina in 1991, has also been the target of harsh criticism from political opponents and even supposed political allies since the mid-1990s.

A year ago, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s office openly questioned his judgment, and this week caucus colleague Randy White said: “I don’t know who to believe” regarding the Grewal tape controversy.

Grewal has said he engaged in a deliberate sting operation to prove the Liberals were unethically offering him a bribe, while the Liberals say it was Grewal who sought patronage plums in return for his and Nina’s votes.

Both allegations, if proven in court, would result in conviction under the Criminal Code’s bribery section, which allows a hefty maximum sentence of 14 years.

Grewal, in an interview with the Vancouver Sun, said he’s a victim of inaccurate media coverage and unfair attacks by opponents. He also says he isn’t recognized for his strong stands on policy issues, which include his sponsorship of a private bill that passed in 2003, giving members of Parliament greater ability to scrutinize federal regulations

He cites his opposition to gay marriage, his positions on foreign affairs issues, and his recent proposal to require Canadians to post bonds if they want visas for visitors from abroad.

“People should not be afraid of making tough and controversial decisions,” he said. “The media will only talk about things which are creating controversy.”

LIBERAL TIES

Grewal’s first brush with political notoriety came during an incident in B.C. during the mid-1990s that bears remarkable similarities to his current predicament.

In 1995, Grewal decided he wanted to run as a candidate for Gordon Campbell’s B.C. Liberals, who it was widely assumed would defeat the New Democratic Party government.

Grewal, with the help of political organizer Prem Vinning, signed up so many members from the Indo-Canadian community he appeared sure to secure the nomination in a riding that Campbell and his top aides wanted for Reni Masi — the party president at the time.

An apparent truce was reached when Campbell, Vinning, Grewal, and dozens of community leaders met in Vinning’s house. Grewal was photographed raising the hand of the anointed candidate.

But Grewal said he was trapped, had no idea what the meeting was about, and didn’t plan on stepping aside. He soon quit the Liberal party and later ran, and lost badly, as a candidate of the former B.C. Reform party.

“I never agreed, but they held my hand and raised it up,” he recollected Thursday. “There were so many people, it would really look stupid in front of people if you say no, no, I’m not withdrawing. They are making me, forcing me. … I thought the pressure is so much around here, so I held my hand and raised it.”

Grewal then went to the media, claiming publicly Sandy Powar, the B.C. Liberal party secretary, tried prior to that meeting to bribe him by saying he could be named a deputy minister in a Campbell government if he stepped aside. Grewal said he believes he still might have a tape of that conversation.

Vinning, when told about Grewal’s comments, said they were “disgusting.”

LINKS TO DESPOT

Grewal was born in India and studied agriculture at a university in the Punjab. He married Nina in 1982 after spotting her in a matrimonial want ad.

A year later they moved to Liberia, where Nina’s parents once lived. The country had been ruled since 1980 by Samuel Doe, who had assumed power in a bloody coup.

Grewal taught business at the University of Liberia, and he and his brother ran a company selling agricultural supplies and importing telecommunications equipment.

They left in 1990 after Doe was overthrown and savagely executed. The Grewals landed in Canada a year later as economic immigrants.

It was in 1995, when Grewal first ran for political office, that he found himself having to deal with his supposed link to Doe, the Liberian despot known as one of Africa’s worst human rights violators.

A reporter learned Grewal was rejected as a provincial Liberal candidate because he was supposedly not well known in the community. Grewal responded by sending out a resume that stated he “recommended to and then helped the president of Liberia to launch Green Revolution in the country.”

He also claimed to be honorary vice-consul of Liberia in Canada, the Vancouver Province reported in 1997, citing a copy of the resume obtained by the newspaper in May 1995.

Grewal confirmed Friday he sought the post, but never became a Liberian representative in Canada.

The Liberian government “asked me if I would like to be vice-consul or honorary consul and they were considering it, but it never happened,” he said.

When media reports began suggesting he was an actual adviser to a ruthless African dictator, Grewal complained he was a victim of inaccurate media reporting.

He said this week his link to Doe wasn’t much different than a Canadian citizen writing to the health minister complaining about a local hospital’s inadequate services.

“If someone will try to label me with president of Liberia in any form or shape that would be … a misrepresentation of the association.”

HARPER DEFIED

Grewal had another brush with notoriety last year, shortly before the federal election, when the Vancouver Sun revealed outspoken right-wing commentator Rachel Marsden, who was then facing a criminal charge, was working in his office using the name Elle Henderson.

Marsden pleaded guilty to a stalking charge against a Vancouver radio personality after her employment with Grewal ended.

Grewal acknowledged Harper’s office objected to Marsden’s hiring, but he went ahead anyway because he believed she was talented and “innocent until proven guilty” of the harassment charge.

Jim Armour, then Harper’s director of communications, confirmed at the time Grewal hired Marsden “against the express wishes” of Harper and the party.

Though Grewal denied at the time Marsden was hired on his taxpayer-funded office budget to help on party matters, the MP was hit with a token $75 fine by the House of Commons after it was discovered Marsden improperly used the office e-mail to recruit party members for Grewal’s nomination.

Grewal, who said Marsden used the e-mail for party purposes without his knowledge and was told to stop, defended his decision to hire Marsden.

He also said he didn’t believe anyone was trying to hide her identity.

December 28, 2004

Protected: Kansas City Star, December 28, 2004:TALK SHOWS (Marsden on Dennis Millar again)

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October 18, 2004

Protected: Oct 18, 2004: Marsden And Grewal Disagree On Her Role In His Campaign

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October 13, 2004

Protected: Oct 13, 2004: Marsden Guilty Of Harassment

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May 15, 2004

May 15, 2004: The Voice interviews Grewal about Rachel Marsden

Filed under: Marsden,Uncategorized — bucketsdata @ 12:34 pm

From http://www.voiceonline.com/voice/050611/headline4.php, which republished an earlier interview:

GREWAL’S PAST CONTROVERSIES – TWO

Rachel Marsden controversy: “I have done an excellent job and she has done an excellent job”

By RATTAN MALL

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview was carried in our May 15, 2004 issue.)
Indeed, how excellent a job Surrey Central M.P. Gurmant Grewal did in hiring a person like Rachel Marsden defies logic, as far as I am concerned – and I will leave it to The VOICE readers to decide for themselves after reading the interview with Grewal carried below.

Marsden has shocked British Columbians by being involved in two stalking and harassment cases – the most notorious being that involving the Simon Fraser University swimming coach Liam Donnelly.

That poor guy lost his job amidst brutal negative publicity. Fortunately, he got back his job and reputation when he produced proof that Marsden had stalked him and sent emails and gifts to him.

Just when almost every British Columbian had forgotten about that horrible and terrifying incident – because it could happen to any respectable male – Marsden was suddenly back in the news last year when it was alleged that she was facing harassment charges involving former radio personality Michael Morgan. It has been alleged that Morgan received unwanted emails and phone calls from Marsden in October-November 2002, after a year-long sexual relationship between the two ended.

Against this background, Grewal claimed he had done his own research on Marsden and decided she was just the woman he needed for his Surrey office for certain jobs. So he hired her last December – and suddenly her work was over, just when The Vancouver Sun’s Peter O’Neil called him about Marsden last week.

Quite a coincidence, eh!

The Province followed with a story on Sunday and then The Vancouver Sun did another piece on Monday.

When I hit Google search with “Rachel Marsden,” I came across the webpage: http://www.jerseygop.com/RepublicanBabes14.html with a photo of Marsden that I am sure Grewal would have come across in his research.

And the site talked up Marsden as “a regular political columnist for PunditMag.com” whose writing had reportedly appeared in a slew of publications in Canada and the U.S. and made her out to be an outstanding student and journalist.

I suggest you also do the same to see what I mean.

Anyway, here is the text of the full interview with Grewal:

VOICE: Did you know her background when you hired her?

Grewal: Yes, I did.

VOICE: If you knew about her background, don’t you think it was bad judgment to hire a person with her kind of background?

Grewal: No, not at all. When she was a teenager – I investigated her before I hired her; not only that, I also talked to her lawyer as well – what happened was that when she was a student at SFU, she was a member of the SFU swimming team and she alleges that the swim coach raped her.

VOICE: Yes, but he proved it otherwise.

Grewal: Yes, he proved it. He proved it because this lady didn’t have a good lawyer or any money to hire a lawyer.

VOICE: So you think she was innocent and that guy was wrong?

Grewal: No, I don’t say that is innocent or not. But what happened was that even if the guy was proven innocent, that doesn’t mean…you know when you have an expensive lawyer – and the university spent lots of money (for the guy) – and she was a student and didn’t have any money to hire a lawyer.

VOICE: But he has got emails, I mean he had proof of emails.

Grewal: Yeah, but what happened was that…maybe something is there, but she’s not proven guilty herself either.

VOICE: Okay, but what was the need of changing her name?

Grewal: Okay, I will come to the name, but let me quickly update something else. She had the coach and some other people. They had some sort of vendetta against her and they came after her in the second case. Then another person who was her boyfriend who was getting her email and other stuff, they were sharing information, they broke up. And when they broke up, then this case went to the court, which case is still in the court. Okay. She has not been convicted. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So based on that, she should not be unfairly treated.

On her name, many people use a different name, particularly those who are broadcasters on radio or TV. She has been a broadcaster. She has been using that name I don’t know when or where. In my office, she has for all documentation purpose used her real name. Only we used to call her Elle, because that was her short name – from Rachel to Elle. She never used Henderson in my office.

(Gurmant then went on to mention the name of an Indo-Canadian worker in his office who also uses a nickname).

So similarly there are many people who use different names.

So after I investigated, then I hired her on a short-term contract.

VOICE: And this was in December?

Grewal: Yeah, in December. I hired her on a short-term contract, which I renewed and she had selected job. She was not full-time. She was having a selected job, what she will do, what she will not do in my office. Her responsibility was designated to particular issues, particular contents in my office. And she had limited access to files in my office. Okay? So with that I put the safeguard in place and I didn’t have any complaints from her working. No one ever complained about her behaviour or anything in my office…and she has done a job more than excellent on some of the issues, which I had given her. I don’t have any problems with her working…

VOICE: So did she apply for the job of a…?

Grewal: (interrupting me) Yes, she applied for the job. I interviewed her. I gave her a test and then I found after about her background about which she told me everything. Then I put her on hold until I completed my little investigation.

VOICE: But your party says that they objected to…

Grewal: (interrupting me) Yeah, they knew that I was going to hire her. They said that as long as you know her background, this is your decision.

VOICE: But in the (Vancouver) Sun the person clearly says that they were against it and they advised you against it, according to Jim Armour. The exact quote is: “This individual was hired against the express wishes of both the party and the leader’s office.” Nothing can be stronger than that!

Grewal: Yeah, that’s okay. I mean I was told that this lady has some questionable past and I said I am aware of it. So I went ahead.

VOICE: Okay, so don’t you think this will lead to conflict between you and the leader because she has written a whole lot of…?

Grewal: (interrupting me) I don’t think so, because the leader has nothing to do with it. She was working in a constituency office.

VOICE: But she has written articles against Harper. You know she has written some really bad stuff against Harper which was quoted in the (Vancouver) Sun. This is on her site. Like she said Harper “has all the charisma and inspirational capacity of a mortician, all the originality of a pair of Calvin Klein knockoffs – and all the ability to maintain due course of a drunken sailor in a windstorm.”

Grewal: Yeah, but she had written that article before the leadership (contest).

VOICE: This was in February.

Grewal: Yeah, before the leadership (contest), if you see that. In the same Vancouver Sun article it is written it was before the leadership (contest) and…

VOICE: But you were supporting Harper at that time.

Grewal: Oh yeah, I do, but I don’t control people’s democratic ability. Even I could have an employee working in my office who might be voting Liberal, because it is a prerogative and I should not restrict people’s democratic right. If she’s a writer and she has something to say about anyone, so I should not, you know freedom of expression, I should not snub it because person is working in my office.

VOICE: So you don’t think this will have a fallout as far as your party leadership goes or as your party goes?

Grewal: Oh, not at all. My leader is having full confidence in me. I have worked very good as a Member of Parliament. My constituents know that, my colleagues know that and my leader knows that.

VOICE: Is there anything else you want to say on this, Gurmant?

Grewal: I would simply say that I don’t regret (her) working in my office and she has done an excellent job. Let people think that if she was a daughter of someone – those people who are accusing her – (that she was a) sister or daughter of someone who was badly treated by someone and she’s not found guilty – and in Canada, you are innocent until proven guilty – and what should the society do to this individual? Should the society completely abandon her? No one should give her a job and then she should be let go back on the street? She had no criminal record. If I had asked her ‘please provide me police clearance,’ her police clearance would be as clean as anyone else’s. So I believe I have practiced enough diligence. I believe that I have stood on principle and I have given her selected job, therefore, which was researching on issues. And she’s very good on researching on issues or writing about something and that job she has done excellent. She has done some part of the job from her own home and some using my facilities. And I put the safeguards in place and I believe that I am not apologetic to anyone. I have done an excellent job and she has done an excellent job.

VOICE: So, in other words, I can say you have no regret at all?

Grewal: Not at all! Not at all!

(After a few minutes, Grewal phoned back to add the following:)

You know there are more than half a million public servants in Canada. You think that other people did not have a brush-up with law and order? If they do, they continue to work. Even there are people who have been charged in the past and found guilty, still they have been working with public services. In my judgment, I think that as a Member of Parliament, if I hire someone and then after she starts working in my office full-time, then she has a brush-up with the law outside somewhere and you think that person will cease working in the office right away, as soon as they have problems? You know, a Member of Parliament is holding a responsible position. I think I am very cautious about that. In case she was convicted, then the decision would be different.

(Editor’s note: In our October 16, 2004 edition, we reported that Marsden was given a conditional discharge with a one-year probation that required her to stay away from her former lover, former radio personality Michael Morgan, and keep out of trouble.

The judge said that the 29-year-old former SFU student – who was also involved in a sexual harassment imbroglio with SFU swim coach Liam Donnelly (each accused the other of it, but neither side proved it) – was “immature in dealing with personal relationships” and could not accept being rejected. Marsden wouldn’t have a criminal record.)

© The Voice Group. 2002, All Rights Reserved, Reproduction in any form is prohibited without prior permission

May 13, 2004

Protected: May 13, 2004: Marsden Makes Court Appearance on Harassment Charges

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May 12, 2004

Protected: May 12, 2004, Grewal “Has no Regrets” in hiring Marsden

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May 10, 2004

Protected: May 10, 2004 :Marsden Claims She Is Paying For Her Anti-Harper Views

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Protected: May 10, 2004 : Marsden Fires Back

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