May 19 could have been the last day of the 38th Parliament, had the minority Liberals not obtained the votes of some extra MPs in advance of a critical confidence motion. Had the government been defeated, so, too, would the anti-marriage Bill C-38 and, barring an election miracle, the political career of Paul Martin would have ended also.
After watching rookie MP Belinda Stronach cross the floor to join not just the Liberal party, but the Liberal cabinet, no one was surprised by the allegations of another Conservative MP, Gurmant Grewal of Surrey, B.C., that he, too, had been offered a cabinet or diplomatic post in exchange for his vote.
What no one, including senior Liberals involved in the discussions with Grewal, expected was that he would be able to substantiate his allegations. Instead of the typical claims and counter-claims about what was really offered, there is irrefutable proof that the Liberal Heath Minister, Ujjal Dosanjh, and the prime minister’s chief of staff, Tim Murphy, conspired to meet with Grewal and discuss a possible future within the Liberal party, in exchange for him sitting out the confidence vote. Further, there is also proof that the prime minister himself knew and approved of the deal-making meetings.
The innocent-looking, yet wily, Grewal had secretly taped the several phone conversations and face-to-face meetings he had with Dosanjh, Murphy and a Liberal organizer from B.C. named Sudesh Kalia. Those tapes are now in the hands of the RCMP and are presumably the subject of a criminal investigation.
The section of the Criminal Code the RCMP will be looking at is 119: bribery of a public official. The section states that anyone who offers, corruptly, to a member of Parliament any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by him in his official capacity for himself or another person, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.
Fourteen years is a very long sentence, which means that bribery is a very serious offence. Few offences merit a 14-year sentence anymore. Bribing an MP is up there with aggravated assault (where the assailant wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the victim), impaired driving causing death, sexual assault with a weapon, treason and sedition. Only murder carries a more serious sentence: life imprisonment.
Murphy and Dosanjh are both lawyers and undoubtedly knew the letter of the law concerning bribery. The transcripts record them hinting at the issue of rewards should Grewal join their red team, rather than openly and directly offering him a cabinet job. Yet, their inference is clear, and their reference to other MPs, such as Scott Brison, who have joined the Liberals and received a cabinet reward were unmistakable. The scandal should have cost them both their jobs immediately upon the news becoming public.
Yet, the Conservatives, either through ignorance or fear, foolishly refused to engage in a full-court press. The tapes and transcripts were not released to the public for almost two weeks – the party claimed some of the conversations, which were in Punjabi, needed translation – and it never demanded that Murphy and Donsanjh step down. The Conservatives themselves were even responsible for raising doubts about the veracity of Grewal’s allegations, with some Conservative MPs openly criticizing the tapings.
The Liberals, sensing doubt, went on the offensive themselves, unleashing a barrage of criticism of Grewal, dredging up unflattering past news stories about him, accusing him of doctoring the tapes and even of illegally immigrating to Canada. Most ridiculous of all, the Liberals claimed it was Grewal who was (presumably illegally, given what we know about the offence of bribery) seeking to better himself.
Yet, ask yourself this question. If Gurmant Grewal was illegally attempting to obtain high office in exchange for his vote, then why did he tape the numerous phone calls and meetings he had with the Liberals? To incriminate himself? Rubbish.
Imagine another scenario. Grewal is invited to a meeting of armed radicals plotting the overthrow of the Canadian government. He secretly records the meeting and hands the tapes to the police, allowing them to apprehend the traitors. The sentence for treason is 14 years, the same as bribery. Would he not be considered a hero?Of course, the media won’t consider him a hero, because what he did damaged their own political party, and therefore, it damaged their agenda. But, we should. Gurmant Grewal is a courageous man who may well have nailed some major criminals. At the very least, he has given all Canadians a much better perspective on the very desperate measures the Liberals will use to maintain themselves in power.