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May 31, 2005
Grewal Transcripts Released

The suspicions about vote-buying in the Liberal government deepened today when the Conservative Party released the transcripts of conversations between MP Gurmant Grewal and various Liberal Party leaders, including PM Paul Martin's chief of staff. Earlier, when it appeared that the Tories would resist releasing the entire set of tapes, Martin insisted that a deal had never been offered -- but after reviewing the transcripts, Canadians may reach a different conclusion:

Transcripts and audio files from meetings between Mr. Grewal, Mr. Murphy and Mr. Dosanjh were posted on Mr. Grewal's Web page Tuesday.

According to the transcripts, Mr. Martin agreed to meet with Mr. Grewal.

"I talked to the PM moments ago," Mr. Dosanjh is quoted saying in the tapes during a meeting with Mr. Grewal on May 17. "He said he will be happy to talk to you over the phone tonight or in person if you want to move."

Mr. Grewal has accused the government of offering patronage positions if he and his wife tipped the balance in favour of the Liberal government during the confidence vote on May 19.

In the tapes, there is at least some suggestion of a possible Senate and cabinet appointment for the Grewals if they abstained from the confidence vote, though no specific offer is laid out.

Mr. Dosanjh talks vaguely about possible positions that may be offered to the Grewals.

"Nobody will make you totally blunt promises," Mr. Dosanjh said. "That is not done in politics, usually. Cabinet right away may be possible."

The question of whether a specific appointment was offered appears not to be clarified in the tapes. While both Mr. Murphy and Mr. Dosanjh fall short of saying there would be a specific reward for the Grewals' votes, there at least appears to be an understanding there would be some sort of benefit given if they did.

Stephen Taylor has the links to the transcripts on his site. While the G&M reports that no explicit offer of positions for Grewal and his wife appear in the transcripts, the totality of the conversations make clear that the Liberals wanted to assure Grewal that no ambiguity existed in their efforts to draw them across the aisle. In this conversation on May 17th, Ujjal Dosanjh and Tim Murphy want to assure Grewal that he will be able to rely on Martin and the Liberals if he switched sides:

TM - Absolutely, Im sorry, I didnt mean to preclude that if obviously you have to feel where you are comfortable doing and where your personal stake is and what holds you and your wife, let me make it absolutely clear that we are a welcoming party we will do everything we can, obviously for us continuing to expend our base in BC and in prominent communities in this country is a political priority for us. It is a welcoming mat that has a lot of nice Comfy fur on it. Laughs.

UD - I think what Tim is saying about trust is that most of these things do have our trust and you have to feel comfortable with that and at the end, of course if Chief of Staff say that certain conduct ought to be rewarded in due time that trust is kept 99.9% of the times. Sometimes you cant do it circumstances will kill you. I told him about my conversation with the PM.

TM - Let me put one more fact that we can keep this one fact in this room. As I understand from my perspective, you know, I have two things Im going to say One of which is, David Peterson, in terms of Belinda Stronach, David Peterson was the conduit. DP called me on Friday. And obviously we had a conversation to meet him and Belinda on the basis of trust and not surprisingly, if it did not work out then Stronach didnt wanted to be in a position of being burnt by the discussion and so we did it on the basis of trust. Between us it didnt happen but it was on the basis of trust. Ujjal Dosanjh is a crucially important minister in the govt and yet I could not tell him because I had given a promise, until today. Right? So, that I think is lesson about two things. One of which is, we live up to our commitments. Secondly, this conversation no matter what happens, something that happened to us that Saturday. And in fact, no one knew that we were doing it and this is the proof that we can do it. No matter what happens. So I want you to know that and that level of comfort.

Also, this conversation between Dosanjh and Grewal on the 19th sounds like an offer would come soon after an abstention or an outright switch:

UD -- Im OK, I talked to Tim, I met him after lunch in his office. It can be OK but with some gap of time. Like Scott Brison, Scott Brison was made Parliamentary Secretary, that thing can not be ruled out. That, PRIME MINISTER can say to you or not. If that can not happen right now, that will be done in 2 or 4 weeks. You do understand that, right. Those are the thing that can happen. Gradually, when you hold the roots, while you sacrifice, Im sure rewards are there at some point, right. No one can forget such gestures but they require certain degree of deniability. A Big Laugh. Right, You understand this.

GG -- Belinda Stronach and others position, they had a straight forward deal.

UD -- You see, every circumstance is different. Your circumstances are different, mine were different, Scotts were different. All circumstances are different. Right now, when Scott came, then there was not that much danger. PRIME MINISTER thought he could have been given a cabinet position, coz, one minister had the responsibilities of two portfolios. Did you know that. So it was an easier thing to
do.

That not only sounds as though Dosanjh reassured Grewal that his reward would only be a couple of weeks away, but that similar tactics were used in seducing Dosanjh and Brison to the Grits. Dosanjh seems very comfortable talking about these benefits on behalf of the Prime Minister and his chief of staff.

Perhaps the Liberals can console themselves by telling everyone that no explicit deal existed, and the media can substantiate that in the most literal sense. However, after reading the totality of these transcripts, it's completely unreasonable to think they were talking about anything but a quid pro quo for Grewal's vote.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 31, 2005 6:01 PM

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