Monday, July 11, 2005

Why We Shouldn't Let Gurmant Grewal Be Finance Minister

Looks like Gurmant Grewal's in trouble again -- and this time it's over campaign financing.

Barj Dhahan, a Vancouver businessman, donated to Grewal's campaign expecting to get a tax receipt, but he never did. "I ended up saying that, you know, I think there's something fishy here."

Dhahan gave Grewal a cheque for $600 for his 2004 re-election campaign. He says Grewal asked him to make it out to him personally. Grewal deposited the cheque in January 2004, but not to his riding association or his party.

"All I know is the back of the cheque is endorsed by Mr. Grewal," Dhahan said. "He is the best person to know where this money went."

Sarup Mann is another campaign contributor who never got a receipt. "If the [Conservative] party doesn't have the money, I don't know where that went. I don't have a tax receipt," he said.

Mann also gave $600 for Grewal's campaign. He says Grewal asked for the cheque to be made out to himself. Grewal deposited it. The party didn't get it.

The Elections Act has strict rules about campaign donations. Every donor has to get a receipt.

The act also makes it illegal for campaign contributions to be deposited anywhere but in the campaign's account or the riding association's account. The act also says only the official agent can handle contributions and that all of them must be reported to Elections Canada.

Something tells me Stephen Harper might want to extend Grewal's stress leave. This does seem to have the stench of corruption -- or, more likely, Grewal's thought processes are so befuddled it never occurred to him that he didn't send out tax receipts.

In any case, this inability to keep track of money does not speak well for Grewal's chances for the Tory front bench.

The president of Grewal's Newton-North Delta riding association, Jim Holt, backed out of an interview at the last minute, saying his investigation is incomplete.

Holt says the charges are part of a "political assassination campaign" by the Liberals against Grewal.

Certainly the Liberals can only benefit from this latest allegation. But if a politician is any good, all of his or her books should be able to stand up under scrutiny. Unless, of course, they thought they were following the example of the Chr├ętien government.

Hmmm ...