Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Notes on Reading the Grewal Transcripts, Part 2

I've just opened up the second transcriptof Gurman Grewal's taped conversations. This one is an 11-page document in PDF format, and it concerns a meeting between Grewal, federal health minister Ujjal Dosanjh, and prime ministerial assistant Tim Murphy, on the 17th of May. Judging from the early content, this is after the Stronach defection became public.

One thing I will say off the bat: bolding selected passages is a clumsy mistake on the part of the Conservatives. Yes, they are the statements that add fuel to the idea that the Liberals were offering to bribe Grewal for his vote on the budget, but in the case of transcripts it's far better to let the reader judge for him or herself.

1. From page 1 of the transcript:
UD - I think (Belinda) has made it easier for you, if you want.
GG - That’s true.
UD - In fact, cabinet can be arranged right away. For the other, you don’t want to lose the advantage. If you do right away, you lose the advantage of numbers. Those are the issues.

This is apparently the offer of a cabinet position for Grewal.

2. From page 2 of the transcript:

UD - But you will do the right thing. I will push as far as I can. At the end, I don’t
control those things. That is why it is important for you to meet with him.
after the PM. He just told me now that he will talk to you. Ask him if it is all
right. If it appears there is some understanding. If there is no understanding, use
the same kind of language. This is the time to keep the country together, you
can’t line up with the Bloc. You should go out on a high principle. Go out on
high principle. In a sense people might say that is not such a bad thing for you.
Like one of your former Leader. She was a leader in your party.

So if we are to believe the accuracy of this paragraph, the Health Minister has said that Paul Martin himself wanted to talk to Grewal about the possibility of joining Cabinet. Hearsay evidence, of course, but it plants doubt in Martin's denials in the Commons earlier today that he knew anything about the Grewal situation.

3. Note this statement from Tim Murphy, on page 4:

TM: I think, as you will see the PM will say we are not offering and making no offers. And I think that is the narrative we have to stick to it. Or make the PM a liar.

Awfully prescient, don't you think?

4. Much of the latter half of the transcript focuses on Citizenship Minsiter Joe Volpe, who got on Grewal's case several weeks ago when it was revealed that Grewal was accepting deposits from constituents while sponsoring potential immigrants. (Note: deposits, not payments; Grewal's practice was to return the deposit when the immigrant was accepted.)

Grewal makes a case that Volpe owes him an apology. I suspect that it's this wish, rather than a potential officer of a ministry or a Senate seat, that made Grewal want to talk to these people in the first place. (And going over this transcript, you'll note that it's Dosanjh and Murphy who bring up Cabinet and the Senate, not Grewal.)