Thursday, June 02, 2005

Canada's Tricky Dick?

Canada's Tricky Dick?

Not to be outdone by "Deep Throat" revelations in the U.S. this week, Canada has its own political scandal brewing that too harks back to the Nixon era. - {ape}

MP Gurmant Grewal

Canada's Tricky Dick?

C.L. Cook
June 2, 2005

The real issue of the congressional Watergate Hearings back in the seventies was character. As old Tricky Dick Nixon himself put it: "Americans have to know if their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook." Of course, Nixon was telling the truth, in his fashion. He was never charged with a crime, though history has judged him. But, if Dick wasn't a "crook," what the hearings revealed was a sleazy professional politico whose stoop knew no limits. What Americans, and the world, discovered was a cheap conniver who went so far as to secretly tape all of his conversations, with friend and foe alike. What Dick was charged and convicted of, in the court of public opinion, was sliminess.

Ironically, it was Nixon's secret tapes that finally undid his presidency, not for what they contained, but what they lacked. When he finally delivered his tapes, as ordered to, the committee discovered a gap. Someone had erased portions of the tapes Nixon had sworn were complete. That constitutes perjury and could mean the Tricky One continuing his public service from a penitentiary. A lawyer himself, Nixon could see the writing on the wall and knew he had only one way out.

Last week in Canada, the government hung by a hair's thread. Paul Martin's Liberal minority was to be put to its first non-confidence motion, and there was no margin. The Martin team had scored a coup leading up to the vote, "stealing" a high profile opposition MP away to sit, and vote, with the government. There were cries and laments from the opposition, but in the end everyone agreed: Politics is a tough game, and dem's the breaks. But one opposition member has proven politics can be even tougher.

Tory MP, Gurmant Grewal accused the government of, in those crucial days before the vote, trying to bribe him away from his party. And, to prove it, he had it all on tape. Grewal had been in talks with cabinet minister, Ujjal Dosanjh and charged Dosanjh had made promises of great things for Grewal, if only he would switch sides. The triumphant Gurmant released portions of his tapes to the media, plastered it on his website, and generally looked very pleased with himself. But there was a small hitch. Perhaps hiccup would better describe the problem. It seems, like Mr. Nixon before him, MP Grewal's damning tape has been altered.

After receiving copies of the tape, courtesy Mr. Grewal, CP reporters, Jim Bronskill and Alexander Panetta decided they would take it on down to a guy they knew of, a guy who knew a lot about tapes and things, a guy touted as one of the best forensic-sound analysts in the country.

Stevan Pausak runs a little outfit in Oakville called, Forensic Science Services Inc. What the MIT-trained physicist does there is analyse stuff like Gurmant's tape to see if everything is kosher. And Pausak says the tape ain't kosher. It seems, there's a miniscule break in the tape, clearly identified by Pausak. What that break indicates Pausak says is: "It appears to be altered. This brief segment at the beginning shows that it's not continuous, and it should be."

Minister Ujjal Dosanjh agrees, the tape of his conversation with the pee wee P.I. from the opposition isn't quite as he remembers it; not quite as it should be. Now the RCMP have seized several of Mr. Grewal's originals to take their own little look-see. This, they think, could prove to be a criminal matter.

For his part, Grewal is doing his utmost to dodge reporter's questions, saying the matter is in the hands of the RCMP. He's emphatic though, that he did not alter the tapes. Or, as Richard Nixon might say, "I am not a crook!" The Tory's are meanwhile screaming foul, saying the authenticity of the tapes is not the issue; what is at issue, they claim is that the government tried to "bribe" one of their members to cross the floor.

Whether Grumant Grewal will get his day in court or not can also be said to be beside the point; in the court of public opinion, he's revealed himself to be a sleazy, professional politician, whose stoop knows no limit. Now, there's only one way out for the Tory leadership: send Mr. Grewal packing.

Chris Cook host the weekly public affairs program, Gorilla Radio, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada and serves as a contributing editor to You can check the GR blog here.

No comments: