Paul Wells asked the question, so I’ll do my best to answer it.
There are two articles out today on the Grewal tape. I’ll add Jason Cherniak’s post on it since he can always be counted on to tote the official Liberal talking points.
First of all, since I:
a) don’t have the full tapes
b) need to work on my Punjabi
I, like everyone else, am only going on the parts of the tapes that have been released. So, first, here are the three competing opinions on the tape:
Jeffrey rightfully finds it odd that Grewal walks around taping conversations but, since Tim Murphy stays vague, feels there’s nothing odd that four hours of conversations took place. He also feels that it’s a little odd the Tories only made 8 minutes of a four hour tape public (personally, I’m grateful. I can’t imagine how dull a four hour conversation with Ujjal Dosanj must be).
Coyne’s been on a bit of a Liberal jihad of late, so it’s not too surprising that he finds the Liberal excuse of “Grewal started it” a little lame. He feels that Tim Murphy should have hung up the phone if Grewal was digging for something. He also thinks it’s odd that Murphy hasn’t defended himself (presumably he’s too busy dancing with Belinda on night club speakers).
Jason concludes that Grewel is definitely in the wrong since he tried to obtain office and entrapment generally isn’t exactly a nice thing to do. Tim Murphy, however, by talking in more platitudes and vagaries than his boss, appears to have avoided any criminal wrongdoings on the parts of the tape made public.
Now, here’s the law:
119. (1) Every one who(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a
member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, corruptly
(i) accepts or obtains,
(ii) agrees to accept, or
(iii) attempts to obtain,
any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment for himself or
another person in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted
by him in his official capacity, or
(b) gives or offers, corruptly, to a person mentioned in paragraph (a) 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 fourteen years.
As for my view…I find this whole affair odd. I mean, when Belinda crossed the floor, presumably both her and Paul Martin were office holders and presumably she accepted office. I mean, every time two politicians cut a deal, something is being offered and accepted in return for political favours. The only time it becomes criminal is when that little adverb “corruptly” is thrown in. And it seems to me the law is a little vague as to what constitutes “corruptly”.
For Grewal, if he did approach the Liberals and tried to obtain office with the purpose of framing them, then you could certainly make a case that he was corrupt. If the Liberals did in fact approach him, you can make the case that he did what he did in order to expose this and to me that’s fair enough. Since it’s hard to judge who approached whom, let’s just say that Grewal has likely watched a bit too much Alias and took advantage of an opening to make the Liberals look bad.
For Murphy, I do tend to agree with Coyne’s premise that he should have hung up the phone and not spend 4 hours talking to the guy. That said, I also agree with Cherniak that Murphy likely isn’t criminally responsible for any wrongdoing since he avoided making explicit offers of anything. And if Gurmant Grewal’s whole point was to prove that Tim Murphy and the Martin boys play dirty then I can’t wait for his under cover investigation to prove that Belinda Stronach doesn’t have a PHD and that Reg Alcock occasionally puts his foot in his mouth. Everybody knew that this PMO is made up of some of the dirtiest political operatives of their generation, they didn’t need Grewal to prove it.
Bottom line, I find it extremely difficult to believe either of these boys will be charged. Given Murphy’s position, I tend to think he’s more in the wrong, but it’s clear both of them were being naughty. It just seems to me that this stuff goes on all the time and I have yet to receive a very good explanation for how this is fundamentally different than offering Belinda a Cabinet position for crossing the floor…unless there’s more to the Volpe immigration angle than meets the eye. If that comes into play, then all bets are off. If Tim Murphy implied that an RCMP investigation would be ended in return for Grewal’s support, he should be fired on the spot. If Joe Volpe was willing to try and end an RCMP investigation, he should be fired on the spot. If Grewel tried to get the RCMP called off in return for his support, then they’ll soon enough have a second reason to investigate the guy.