Grewal cleared in immigration controversy

The federal ethics watchdog says Tory MP Gurmant Grewal was in an apparent conflict of interest when he demanded cash guarantees from the friends or families of foreigners seeking visas to visit Canada.

The federal ethics watchdog has cleared Tory MP Gurmant Grewal of conflict-of-interest allegations in an immigration controversy.

Ethics commissioner Bernard Shapiro said the B.C. legislator made an error in judgment by having his office demand cash guarantees of up to $250,000 before he helped some foreigners seeking visas to visit Canada.

In a report tabled Wednesday in the House of Commons, Shapiro said the practice placed Grewal in an apparent conflict of interest .

However, Grewal was making an honest mistake and never pocketed any money from the pledges, the ethics commissioner said.

"There was no real conflict of interest," Shapiro said in the report.

"No profit personal to Mr. Grewal was either intended or realized."

Grewal's office asked some sponsors for the guarantees before the MP would go to bat for them after the Immigration Department turned down a visitor's visa for a friend or relative.

The pledges – which ranged from $1,000 to $250,000 – were meant to ensure that the visitors didn't stay in Canada after their visas expired.

The ethics investigation found that Grewal's office collected 232 signed guarantees from 2002 to 2005, when it ended the practice. There was no attempt to redeem any of the guarantees.

Shapiro's investigation stemmed from a complaint in April from Federal Immigration Minister Joe Volpe.

Grewal is on stress leave after finding himself in the midst of a separate controversy over tapes he made as he negotiated with top Liberals to break Conservative ranks in order to ensure Paul Martin's minority government didn't fall.

Earlier in June, Grewal was also cleared of wrongdoing by RCMP and Transport Canada investigations launched after he tried to get Ottawa-bound passengers at the Vancouver airport to carry a package for him.