Canada PM Justin Trudeau will likely be forced to hold by-elections in Brampton East constituency after Raj Grewal’s sudden decision.
New Delhi: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be facing unending troubles with the Sikh diaspora in his country.
In a significant setback Thursday, Raj Grewal, Brampton East MP from Trudeau’s Liberal Party, announced his resignation from Canadian Parliament citing “personal and medical” reasons.
Grewal made the announcement in a Facebook post, saying that he informed the Chief Government Whip of his decision the previous day.
The MP who assumed office on 19 October, 2015, responded to speculation about his resignation with another Facebook post Saturday, clarifying that he has been “struggling with a personal gambling addiction.”
In the post, Grewal apologised to his family and friends, saying that he is “sorry to have disappointed” them.
“As many Canadians that suffer from addiction issues, I recognize that I have a problem. My focus is now entirely on my mental health and spending time with my family as I recover,” he added.
Grewal’s decision comes as a surprise to many as he was set to represent the Liberal Party as a nominated candidate in the 2019 federal polls.
Trudeau will likely be forced to hold by-elections in the constituency due to the timing of the sudden vacancy.
The India controversy
Grewal was earlier investigated by the Federal Ethics Commissioner on allegations that he uncustomarily invited a Brampton property developer to meetings with high ranking Indian government officials and ministers during Trudeau’s visit to India in February this year.
The developer, Zgemi Inc. chief executive Yusuf Yenilmez had hired Grewal during his time as a Bay Street lawyer for legal advice. Yenilmez continued paying Grewal even after the latter was elected to the Canadian Parliament, according to a report in The Star.
The report said Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion launched an official investigation into Grewal’s India-trip invitation in May this year.
“Dion’s office has not released any conclusions from that investigation, and said in an email Thursday that it is barred by parliament’s ethics code from confirming any further information,” The Star reported.
Grewal was one of the Canadian ministers targeted by Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for what he termed as their “well known for their leanings towards the Khalistani movement”.
Apart from Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, whom Singh publicly called a “Khalistani sympathiser” last year, the Punjab CM also took the name of a significant number of Sikh ministers in the Canadian parliament, including cabinet ministers Amarjeet Sohi, Navdeep Bains, as well as Jagmeet Singh, the first non-white politician to lead a major party in Canada, the New Democratic Party.
During Trudeau’s week-long trade visit to India earlier this year, the Narendra Modi government was conspicuously absent from diplomatic photo-ops and political pleasantries. Modi, who is known for his trademark hugs with visiting heads of state, was not even present at the Delhi airport to welcome the Trudeau family.
When asked about Canada’s support to Khalistan sympathisers, Grewal had said, “It’s not the first time this question has been posed to a Canadian premier, it was posed to previous visiting PMs as well. But there is zero evidence of this support.”
He had added, “Even if our government believes in united India policy, our freedom of speech protects the rights of a citizen to have an opinion different from that of the government.”