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Canada: Ethics Czar Clears Dosanjh in Taping Furor


The Globe and Mail, Jan. 25, 2006

Photo: Ujjal Dosanjh

Canada's ethics watchdog has cleared Liberal Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh of claims he offered to reward former Conservative M.P. Gurmant Grewal for taking a pass on a vital confidence vote in the House of Commons last spring.

Federal ethics commission Bernard Sharpiro called Mr. Grewal's actions in secretly taping conversations with Mr. Dosanjh and Tim Murphy, head of staff for outgoing Prime Minister Paul Martin, 'extremely inappropriate' and said the entire incident has likely hurt the public's trust in the system.

'While it is not clear whether Mr. Grewal genuinely sought an inducement to change his vote or whether he just acted the part in an attempt to entrap Mr. Dosanjh, his actions were, in either case, extremely inappropriate,' Mr. Shapiro said in a report released Wednesday.

N.D.P. whip Yvon Godin had asked Mr. Shaprio to investigate the matter last June. Wednesday's report had originally been completed and ready for release last Friday, but Mr. Shapiro said he decided to hold the report back rather than deliver it during a federal election campaign.

Mr. Grewal, who did not seek re-election, had accused the Liberals of offering cabinet postings, senate appointments or other jobs if he and his wife, M.P. Nina Grewal, switched sides ahead of a crucial May 19 confidence vote in Parliament.

The minority Liberal government ultimately survived the challenge by the narrowest of margins. It later fell when members of all three opposition parties joined forces on a separate confidence motion.

In Wednesday's report, Mr. Shapiro said information gathered during his inquiry indicates that Mr. Dosanjh did not offer specific rewards to Mr. Grewal if he changed his vote.

However, Mr. Shapiro also said that while the practice of secretly taping fellow M.P.s isn't illegal, it isn't 'consistent' with the code governing parliamentary conduct.

'The facts of this case have clearly not enhanced the public's confidence and trust in the integrity of the House of Commons and its members,' he said.

'Indeed, I believe the public's trust and confidence has been weakened.'