Mr. Murphy's Offer
I realize that there are lots and lots of people out there who believe that the Martin Liberals are ethically different from the Chretien Liberals, or that the revelations of criminal activity before the Gomery Commission refer to a past practice of the party and does not have a bearing on the current government.
If you are one of those people I defy you to read the transcript below of the conversation between the Chief of Staff to the current Prime Minister of Canada and a Conservative member of parliament, Germant Grewal. Once you have done that I defy you to retain your view that the Martin Liberals are ethically different than the Chretien mob.
Friday, May 20, 2005 Updated at 1:02 AM EDT
Gobe and Mail Update
This is a transcript from a taped meeting Wednesday between Conservative MP Germant Grewal and Tim Murphy, Prime Minister Paul Martin's chief of staff. The tape has been released by the Conservative Party. It is believed that Mr. Murphy was unaware that he was being taped. The tape is of poor quality and Mr. Grewal is almost entirely unintelligible.
The Conservatives have refused to release the rest of the tape, including a meeting with Minister of Health Ujjal Dosanjh, which they say is largely in Punjabi. Immigration Minister Joe Volpe has asked the RCMP and the Ethics Commissioner to investigate what he alleges are improper requests by Mr. Grewal of constituents who are seeking help from the MP in their immigration cases.
Murphy: [unintelligible] ...best for you and best for us, in a way that allows everybody to feel comfortable, and also allows everybody to feel principled, and I think to be principled. Both.
So, I was kind of thinking about that and I talked to Ujjal last night and again this morning, just before I came, which is why I was a few minutes late.
Grewal: That's OK.
Murphy: What I think... what might be the easiest thing to do, and see what you think about this, because we have the vote tomorrow night, and if the government doesn't fall, it's not the only vote we may have to face.
My guess is that when you look at issues like supply, final votes on the budget, opposition days, there could be as many as eight votes between now and the end of the session which could bring the government down, right?
Obviously, each one of them will be a nail-biter right to the end, and obviously, the two votes that you and your wife represent are the way the House is made up now, matter a lot, or can matter.
There are, just to be honest, as I think I told you yesterday. There are other members of your current caucus who are facing the same dilemma that you face, and are musing, so -
Grewal: [unintelligible] many?
Murphy: I don't want to, in the he same way I don't want to do anything that, I don't want to- Grewal: [unintelligible]
Murphy: If I'm to honour your trust, I have to honour others.
Murphy: So, I hope you don't take that wrongly.
Grewal: Absolutely not.
Murphy: So I think the way to make it work, and the way that allows us the freedom-as you can tell. Right? Just to be blunt, right?
I think it's a bad idea, truthfully, to have any kind of commitment that involves an explicit trade. Because I think anything that [unintelligible].
I don't think it's good if anybody lies. So if anybody asks the question well, was there a deal, you say, 'No.'
You want that to be the truth. And so that's what I want, is the truth to be told.
Secondly, though, I mean obviously it's an important decision for you and your wife and I understand that you want to ensure that you can continue to contribute. Both of you. So, I understand that.
And, as I said, people who make decisions like this in a principled way are people who ought to and deserve to continue to contribute.
So how do we square that circle?
Murphy: So one of the proposals I have is this, that, tomorrow's vote is, let me phrase it in the abstract.
If two members of the Conservative Party abstain from that vote... don't vote against their own party, right? Don't have to.
But equally don't vote to bring it down tomorrow night on the two/ I think there's two key votes.
And that can be done on the basis... those members can do it, on the basis, well, you know.
Look, my riding doesn't want an election. Doesn't want one now. Thinks it's the wrong time to do it.
But equally, you know, to vote the opposite way is to vote against the party I'm a member of, the leader of the party, and I'm not prepared to do that.
But I don't think an election's the right thing - I don't want to say that won't create some...
[interjection by Grewal, unintelligible] ... some flak, but it keeps freedom, right? Allows someone to go back home in the right circumstance and it also allows someone an opportunity, right?
So if there is an abstention. If someone then, though, in my view, if someone then abstains in that environment, who has exercised a decision based on principle, it still gives the freedom to have negotiating room.
On both sides. Both going back home - then it's actually the freedom to have discussion is increased if someone has made a decision that doesn't preclude any options based on principle.
Then you can come and say, "Well look..." - then you can have an explicit discussion. And then in that environment, you know, a person can say, "Look, I obviously abstained, and that created some issues, and now I'm thinking hard about."
You can say, "I'm thinking hard about what's the right thing for my riding and the contribution that I could like to make."
Then we can have a discussion that welcomes someone to the party. And then in that environment we know if those two votes continue to vote, either the one vote switches, or one switches and one abstains, or both abstain, from now until the end of the session the government will survive, right?
We know that. And then we get through to the end of the session, right?,
And then, if one person wants to switch and make the contribution, then that makes a lot of sense.
If the other wants to switch and then serve until an election, or some time in advance of that, and then... and then... and then... you know, something would look to be done to ensure that that person...
Grewal: Oh shit. (It appears that Grewal's BlackBerry goes off, and the conversation is briefly interrupted.)
Murphy: That's quite all right. These things go off all the time.
Grewal: I have it switched off.
Murphy: All of which is to say, that in advance of that, explicit discussions about Senate. Not Senate. I don't think are very helpful, and I don't think frankly can be had, in advance of an abstention tomorrow.
And then we'll have much more detailed and finely hued discussions after that with some freedom. And I think what that allows is negotiating room for you, in either direction.
You can easily, say, "Look. Yeah, you know, if you don't like it, you can stay home, stay back with... where you are. And if you do like, we can make an arrangement that allows you to move.
Now look, I don't expect, you to react to that right now. Think about it. Please talk to Ujjal.
Ujjal knows this is the discussion I'm having with you. Please feel free, and say, you know, he knows. And then, if that proposal is of some interest to you, then I will talk to Volpe and get something happening.
(Pause. Grewal starts to speak. Murphy interrupts.)
Well, I have talked to Volpe, already. So -
Grewal: Is he manageable?
Grewal: What happens is?..[unintelligible] you know how we came together. There are some common friends. He approached me. [unintelligible]
Murphy: No, it's a bit... it's the same. I understand. Sorry.
Please accept, I understand completely. It's much like Belinda, where there is a third party who is independent of both sides. You didn't approach, we didn't approach.
Grewal: They did approach me.
Murphy: The independent party played the role, like we didn't approach, you didn't approach.
Grewal: [unintelligible] End of tape
Note the uncanny resemblance of language used by Chuck Cadman to Murphy's suggested spin to Grewal.
"I haven't been offered anything, believe me," he said. "Nothing offered. Nothing asked for."He also attributed his vote to polls of his constituents indicating they didn't want an election. This may well be strictly true, Mr. Cadman. But one is left to wonder ......
The language also echoes that of David Peterson after facilitiating the great betrayal talking about Belinda's need to find a space where she could make a contribution.
The Grits are certainly on message.