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May 21, 2005
NDP, BQ Join In Call For RCMP Investigation

NDP leader Jack Layton has joined with Bloc Quebecois chief Giles Duceppe in calling for an RCMP investigation into potential vote-buying in the case of Gurmant Grewal. Grewal taped two conversations with key Liberal leaders, including PM Paul Martin's chief of staff Tim Murphy, during which Murphy alluded to a future appointment to the Senate for Grewal's wife in exchange for an abstention on Thursday's no-confidence motion:

NDP Leader Jack Layton yesterday joined calls for the RCMP to investigate a taped conversation in which it is alleged that the Prime Minister's chief of staff suggested to an MP that the government would be more free to discuss a possible Senate appointment only after he and his wife, also an MP, abstained on Thursday night's confidence vote.

Mr. Layton backed Bloc Qubcois Leader Gilles Duceppe, who on Thursday wrote the RCMP asking them to investigate the matter. ...

In the conversation, taped Wednesday morning, Mr. Murphy tells Mr. Grewal it is a bad idea to "have any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade."

Mr. Murphy later suggests that if Mr. Grewal and his wife, Nina Grewal, who is also a British Columbia MP, decide to abstain from confidence votes that could defeat the government, then afterward they could have discussions about whether there might be a Senate appointment, with "some freedom."

"In advance of that, explicit discussions about Senate, not Senate, I don't think are very helpful, and I don't think frankly can be had, in advance of an abstention tomorrow," Mr. Murphy can be heard telling Mr. Grewal on the tape.

"And then we'll have much more detailed and finely hued discussions after that with some freedom."

Complicating the call for an investigation is a sudden reversal from Grewal himself, who now does not want to provide the entire tape to the RCMP. Part of the problem may be that the tape will show that Grewal initiated the conversations, opening up the possibility that he entrapped Murphy and others into their offers. It also could look like Grewal seriously intended on cutting himself a deal and decided against it when a firm offer did not arise, although that doesn't explain why he would surreptitiously tape the conversations of his efforts.

Both Layton and Duceppe have criticized the Conservatives for not releasing the entire tape for scrutiny, and they're correct to do so. If the tape truly does represent a skillful attempt to bribe an MP for a vote, then the entire tape has to be heard for that charge to stand up. If it doesn't, then the Conservatives should make that clear now and put the entire issue to rest quickly. Dragging their heels on the release only makes it look like the Tories have something to hide and builds the credibility of the Liberals and Murphy.

The G&M points out another interesting aspect of this issue that actually should apply elsewhere:

The Criminal Code contains two broadly worded sections that prohibit government officials from offering any kind of benefit for someone's co-operation or influence on government business, and prohibit anyone from soliciting or negotiating an appointment to a government office "in the expectation" of an advantage or benefit.

Doesn't this sound like it should be applied to an investigation of Belinda Stronach's surprise, last-minute appointment to Paul Martin's cabinet in exchange for her abandonment of the Tories on Wednesday?

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 21, 2005 9:21 AM

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» The RCMP to investigate ... from The Herkimer Diaries
Layton joins call for probe into Grewal's allegations, that a taped conversation in which it is alleged that the Prime Minister's chief of staff suggested to an MP that the government would be more free to discuss a possible Senate appointment only... [Read More]

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