Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Grewaling Ordeal is Almost Over ...

Newton-North Delta MP Gurmant "Your Visit May Be Recorded for Quality Control Purposes" Grewal got some good news yesterday: the RCMP aren't going to charge him:

An RCMP spokesperson, Natalie Deschenes, said Friday that investigators listened to the recordings and interviewed the people who were involved before concluding that no criminal investigation was warranted.

He's not quite out of the woods yet -- the RCMP are still looking at how he reported election expenses during the 2004 election -- but this goes a long way towards giving Mr. Grewal a fighting chance to hang on to his seat come the next election.

And Stephen Harper's gamble in publicly supporting Mr. Grewal has paid off. In an environment where simply loyalty is often sacrificed for political expediency, Harper's public support of Grewal was incredibly risky. Now, the fact that the Mounties aren't even going to start a criminal investigation (which is what the Liberal brain trust wanted, as a distraction from the upcoming Gomery revelations) adds a virtuous air to Harper's reputation; his Tory doctors can spin him as a leader willing to tough it out in a political storm.

This may not seem to matter much to the newsreading public, but it does matter to backbench MPs looking for support in their work from their leader. Now they know that Mr. Harper will stand for them if they have a strong position, even if it's unpopular.

Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh, on the other hand, comes out as damaged goods. He might have done himself some good by congratulating Mr. Grewal and agreeing to put the sorry affair behind them.

But no. According to the Globe and Mail, he decided to play politics:

Mr. Dosanjh said he was pleased to hear of the RCMP decision.

He was, however, critical of Mr. Harper's support of Mr. Grewal through what he called an "unseemly affair."

"I think it is important, however, for Canadians to reflect with concern on the fact that this sorry episode had its origins in the scheme by Mr. Grewal and the Office of the Leader of the Opposition to publicly besmirch my reputation and integrity with allegations of vote buying and bribery based on surreptitiously recorded tapes," Mr. Dosnajh said in a news release on Friday.

Also troubling Mr. Dosanjh was the fact that the tapes contained edits and splices.

Message for Mr. Dosanjh: your party was engaged in vote-buying. It's understandable because you were trying to prop up a minority government in the middle of devastating testimony from the Gomery inquiry, but it's vote-shopping nonetheless. And it's on the record.