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WATCH: Raj Grewal Rethinking Decision To Resign As MP, Says He Has Repaid Gambling Debts

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 03 Dec, 2018
  • WATCH: Raj Grewal Rethinking Decision To Resign As MP, Says He Has Repaid Gambling Debts

OTTAWA — Liberal MP Raj Grewal says he has repaid his sizable gambling debts and is now reconsidering his hasty decision to quit politics.

 

In a statement posted to his Facebook page late Friday, Grewal ended several days of silence, saying Canadians deserve to know the details of his personal troubles.

 

Grewal's sudden decision to step down as the member for the southern Ontario riding of Brampton East was prompted by a gambling problem that led him to incur significant personal debts, the Prime Minister's Office said last week.

 

A source with knowledge of events has told The Canadian Press that the RCMP began looking into Grewal's casino gambling based on reports of unusually large financial transactions.

 
 

Dear Brampton East You Deserve To Know. I’ve asked for this opportunity to speak directly to my fellow Canadians about my mental health issue with gambling. I know my silence this past week has raised questions and speculation – and for that, I truly apologize. This has been an agonizing time for me as I’ve wrestled with the issue of how my illness impacts my role as an MP and my family. I now want to speak freely and share my story, because Canadians deserve to know what happened. I have gambled recreationally since university and never thought I would suffer from mental health and addiction issues. But it became a significant personal problem that I now recognize and take responsibility for. During my time in Ottawa as an MP, I stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Gatineau Quebec, which coincidentally was interconnected to the Casino du Lac Leamy. In early 2016, I first started to visit the Casino recreationally to play blackjack. This quickly escalated into a significant problem as I started to play high stakes, high limit blackjack. On an average sitting, I would spend between 15 to 30 minutes at a table, and I either won a lot of money, which made me continue to chase wins, or I lost a significant amount of money, which threw me into complete despair. Over a 3 year period, I accumulated personal debt in the millions of dollars. Like many addicts and people suffering from mental health issues, I started to personally borrow money solely from friends and family to continue to gamble. I want to make it clear, that every single personal loan made to me was by cheque. Everybody has been paid back, and every loan and repayment is transparent and traceable. This has nothing to do at all with anything sinister except to feed my own addiction. I apologize to my family for both having to financially bail me out and to carry this burden with me. I know I have shocked many and left everyone wondering how someone with education and privilege could do something so senseless. The truth is, that compulsive gambling is a mental health disorder that I suffer from. One that was fueled by my misguided belief that one more win could fix the problem. I cannot put into words the shame and embarrassment that comes with this addiction, particularly for my family and friends. It is not easy to admit that you have a problem, especially when you are in the public realm. That is why I did not stop. That is why I hid this from absolutely everyone. And that is why I suffered in silence. On November 5, I first revealed this problem to my family. It is with their love and support that I had the courage to seek treatment and speak to the Prime Minister’s Office on November 19, 2018, which is the first time I notified PMO about my mental health and gambling addiction issues. My sins are not ones based in corruption and dishonesty; they are born out of human frailty. I want to apologize to my family, friends, and supporters - I am sorry to have disappointed you. You have all poured so much time, energy and love into me and that I will never forget. To my constituents and colleagues - you put your faith in me to serve and I let you down. To the Prime Minister, I sincerely apologize for becoming a distraction from the important work you are doing for Canadians. As commonly happens when a news story like this one breaks, many want to know the details and may rely upon isolated pieces of information and half truths in an attempt to fit them into the narrative. In my own situation, this happened in several instances, particularly in relation to work as an MP on the house Finance Committee and on the subject of my and my wife’s personal purchases. I would like to fully clear these up now with specific facts. With respect to my role as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, I participated in a review of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act where MPs ask particular agencies and institutions pertinent questions. As part of this review, my committee colleagues and I asked questions of a similar nature on money laundering. My questions on February 8th and June 20th were based in part on a brief prepared by the Library of Parliament, which included recommended questions, and additional suggestions by my staff. To infer that my motivations were unethical or that I was using a chance opportunity to figure out if FINTRAC was aware of my gambling is to stretch reality and to take the situation completely out of context. Additionally, after having served on the finance committee for three years, I wanted to try something new to diversify my experience. For this reason, when a vacancy occurred on the Standing Committee on Health, I welcomed the new opportunity and was appointed on September 19, 2018. There is also incorrect information that has been published about me and my wife’s assets and liabilities that give rise to unfair inferences. As I mentioned before, my wife had no idea about my personal gambling problem until 3 weeks ago. We have been married for only 4 months now and have always maintained separate finances. We do not even have a joint bank account. In January 2018, my wife and I jointly purchased one condo in Toronto for $1.44 million where we currently have a mortgage for $1 million. Like many young Canadians, we worked hard, saved, received help from our parents and invested in real estate as part of our financial plan. The media has implied that the mortgage is in excess of its purchase price, which is not true and not possible under Canada’s banking regime. Additionally, my wife independently purchased a condo four years ago in 2014 for $324,000 with a mortgage for $278,000. I have no ownership in this property and reports of a third condo are false. My wife is a respected and hardworking lawyer. She is not a public figure and it is wrong for her to be implicated by the media, and have her name dragged into this when she had no idea about my personal finances and problems. Again I apologize to her and her family for the grief I caused them. I also have a personal line of credits with three financial institutions, which were disclosed to the ethics commissioner and all are related to my student debts. Additionally, I want to clarify that I only have one personal vehicle. I co-signed one lease to help a friend who needed a car loan, which was the 2018 Dodge Ram. I am not a debtor on any other personal vehicles. There have also been reports about my involvement with the Goreway Bridge project. Since the 2015 campaign, I have been advocating for the Goreway bridge to be completed, because it is an important issue for the people of Brampton East. Throughout my term as an MP, I have routinely requested updates on the status of the project from the Mayor’s office. The sole purpose of my inquiries was to ensure that I could provide an update to my constituents on the status of the project. As part of the routine update request, myself and other recipients received an email containing an unsolicited confidential report from the Mayor of Brampton’s Chief of Staff on November 21, 2017. I did nothing further with this report and to suggest that I leaked confidential information is categorically false. With respect to my other employment relationships, I want to reiterate that they were both disclosed to and approved by the ethics commissioner. Since January 2018, I ended my relationship with one employer and continued to work in a limited capacity with another for the purposes of maintaining my legal skill set. I have worked with the ethics commissioner regarding my employment and will continue to cooperate with his office. What does this all mean for the people of Brampton East? On Wednesday, November 21, after a brief conversation with the Chief Government Whip, I was told that I probably could not remain in caucus and should resign my seat. I asked the government whip to allow me to make my own statement and to tell my family in person. I immediately flew back to Brampton to share the heartbreaking news with my family. In a highly emotional state, completely exhausted and facing an extreme time constraint, I made an ill advised statement on Facebook that I would be resigning my seat. I can see how some might think that it is right for me to resign. For me, this is a very difficult decision to make. In 2015, I made a commitment to the people of Brampton East - to work hard, to be accessible and to represent them in Ottawa – this job remains unfinished. Brampton East and I share a very special bond. Its where I grew up, its where I went to school and its where I will continue to live and serve – no matter whether it's in the public or private realm. After weeks of spending time with my family, receiving treatment, and countless messages of support, in particular from individuals suffering from mental health issues and my constituents, I’ve decided that I will be leaving the Liberal Caucus and taking a leave of absence to focus on my mental health and recovery. I do not take this decision lightly, as it is easier for my family and me to just fade away and avoid the daily media scrutiny this will bring. But I’m prepared to bear up to the embarrassment and recriminations that are sure to come my way, and legitimately so. I will be making a final decision about my political future before Parliament resumes in the new year. During this time, I ask the people of Brampton East for their patience, guidance, and prayers to ensure that the right decision is made. Thank you. Raj

Posted by Raj Grewal on Friday, 30 November 2018
 
 

In his message, Grewal said he began frequenting the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Que., in early 2016, racking up personal debt in the millions of dollars playing high-stakes blackjack. He started to borrow money from family and friends to continue to gamble.

 

"On an average sitting, I would spend between 15 to 30 minutes at a table, and I either won a lot of money, which made me continue to chase wins, or I lost a significant amount of money, which threw me into complete despair," he says.

 

"I want to make it clear, that every single personal loan made to me was by cheque. Everybody has been paid back, and every loan and repayment is transparent and traceable. This has nothing to do at all with anything sinister except to feed my own addiction. I apologize to my family for both having to financially bail me out and to carry this burden with me."

 

 

Grewal says he hid his compulsive gambling addiction "from absolutely everyone" — including his wife of four months — and suffered in silence until telling his family on Nov. 5. Their love and support gave him the courage to speak to the Prime Minister's Office on Nov. 19, he says.

 

After a brief conversation Nov. 21 with Liberal colleague Mark Holland, the chief government whip, Grewal was told he probably could not remain in caucus and should resign his seat, the Facebook message says. Grewal flew back to Brampton to tell his family.

 

"In a highly emotional state, completely exhausted and facing an extreme time constraint, I made an unadvised and irrational statement on Facebook that I would be resigning my seat."

 

Grewal now says he will take a leave of absence from the Liberal caucus to focus on his mental health and recover, and make a final decision about his political future before Parliament resumes in the new year.

 

"I do not take this decision lightly, as it is easier for my family and me to just fade away and avoid the daily media scrutiny this will bring."

 

 

A well-placed insider told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that if Grewal did not officially resign soon, he would be kicked out of the Liberal caucus.

 

The federal ethics commissioner began an inquiry last May after two opposition MPs expressed concerns that Grewal might have been in a conflict of interest when he invited a construction executive — who was paying Grewal for legal services at the time — to official events with Trudeau during the prime minister's trip to India this year.

 

The Prime Minister's Office acknowledged last week that the RCMP had made inquiries related to the ethics complaint against Grewal. But the insider said the PMO only recently realized that the Mounties' questions might actually have been part of a broader investigation.

 
 

PMO RECENTLY LEARNED OF FORMER LIBERAL MP GREWAL'S GAMBLING ISSUE: TRUDEAU

 
 

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The chief government whip for the federal Liberals says MP Raj Grewal is out of the party caucus. Ajax MP Mark Holland says in a tweet that he confirmed Saturday morning with the Speaker of the House of Commons that Grewal "is not a member of the Liberal caucus."

 

The MP for Brampton East took to Facebook on Friday to say he has repaid his sizable gambling debts and is now reconsidering his hasty decision to quit politics.

 

He announced last month that he was stepping down immediately to deal with "personal and medical reasons."

 

The Prime Minister's Office later said Grewal's sudden decision was prompted by a gambling problem that led him to incur significant personal debts.

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday he learned of Grewal's gambling problem just over a week ago, but his office had no information that an RCMP investigation was connected to the issue.

 

Trudeau told a news conference in Buenos Aires his office was aware the Mounties had been examining Raj Grewal's connection to the prime minister's trip to India this year.

 

 

Grewal had invited a construction executive — who was paying him for legal services — to official events with Trudeau during the trip.

 

The PMO was aware the RCMP was asking questions related to the India trip and that an ethics investigation was going on around Grewal, Trudeau said.

 

"We had no information at that point there was any connection to a gambling problem we had no information on," he said.

 

"On Wednesday of last week, I was apprised of Mr. Grewal's gambling problem.... I understand my office became aware of that within a day or so of briefing me."

 

In his Facebook message Friday, Grewal said he began frequenting the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau, Que., in early 2016, racking up personal debt in the millions of dollars playing high-stakes blackjack. He started to borrow money from family and friends to continue to gamble.

 
 

"On an average sitting, I would spend between 15 to 30 minutes at a table, and I either won a lot of money, which made me continue to chase wins, or I lost a significant amount of money, which threw me into complete despair," he said.

 

"I want to make it clear, that every single personal loan made to me was by cheque. Everybody has been paid back, and every loan and repayment is transparent and traceable."

 

The issue had nothing to do with "anything sinister" except addiction issues, he added, while apologizing to his family for having to bail him out and carry the burden with him.

 

Grewal said he would take a leave of absence from the Liberal caucus to focus on his mental health, and make a final decision about his political future before Parliament resumes in the new year.

 

A source with knowledge of events has told The Canadian Press that the RCMP began looking into Grewal's casino gambling based on reports of unusually large financial transactions.

 
 

Here's Raj Grewal complete statement

 

Dear Brampton East You Deserve To Know.

 

I’ve asked for this opportunity to speak directly to my fellow Canadians about my mental health issue with gambling.

 

I know my silence this past week has raised questions and speculation – and for that, I truly apologize.

 

This has been an agonizing time for me as I’ve wrestled with the issue of how my illness impacts my role as an MP and my family. I now want to speak freely and share my story, because Canadians deserve to know what happened.

 

I have gambled recreationally since university and never thought I would suffer from mental health and addiction issues. But it became a significant personal problem that I now recognize and take responsibility for.

 

During my time in Ottawa as an MP, I stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Gatineau Quebec, which coincidentally was interconnected to the Casino du Lac Leamy.

 

In early 2016, I first started to visit the Casino recreationally to play blackjack. This quickly escalated into a significant problem as I started to play high stakes, high limit blackjack.

 

On an average sitting, I would spend between 15 to 30 minutes at a table, and I either won a lot of money, which made me continue to chase wins, or I lost a significant amount of money, which threw me into complete despair.

 

Over a 3 year period, I accumulated personal debt in the millions of dollars. Like many addicts and people suffering from mental health issues, I started to personally borrow money solely from friends and family to continue to gamble.

 

I want to make it clear, that every single personal loan made to me was by cheque. Everybody has been paid back, and every loan and repayment is transparent and traceable. This has nothing to do at all with anything sinister except to feed my own addiction. I apologize to my family for both having to financially bail me out and to carry this burden with me.

 

I know I have shocked many and left everyone wondering how someone with education and privilege could do something so senseless. The truth is, that compulsive gambling is a mental health disorder that I suffer from.

 

One that was fueled by my misguided belief that one more win could fix the problem. I cannot put into words the shame and embarrassment that comes with this addiction, particularly for my family and friends. It is not easy to admit that you have a problem, especially when you are in the public realm. That is why I did not stop. That is why I hid this from absolutely everyone. And that is why I suffered in silence.

 

On November 5, I first revealed this problem to my family. It is with their love and support that I had the courage to seek treatment and speak to the Prime Minister’s Office on November 19, 2018, which is the first time I notified PMO about my mental health and gambling addiction issues.

 

My sins are not ones based in corruption and dishonesty; they are born out of human frailty. I want to apologize to my family, friends, and supporters - I am sorry to have disappointed you. You have all poured so much time, energy and love into me and that I will never forget. To my constituents and colleagues - you put your faith in me to serve and I let you down. To the Prime Minister, I sincerely apologize for becoming a distraction from the important work you are doing for Canadians.

 

As commonly happens when a news story like this one breaks, many want to know the details and may rely upon isolated pieces of information and half truths in an attempt to fit them into the narrative. In my own situation, this happened in several instances, particularly in relation to work as an MP on the house Finance Committee and on the subject of my and my wife’s personal purchases. I would like to fully clear these up now with specific facts.

 

With respect to my role as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance, I participated in a review of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act where MPs ask particular agencies and institutions pertinent questions. As part of this review, my committee colleagues and I asked questions of a similar nature on money laundering.

 

My questions on February 8th and June 20th were based in part on a brief prepared by the Library of Parliament, which included recommended questions, and additional suggestions by my staff. To infer that my motivations were unethical or that I was using a chance opportunity to figure out if FINTRAC was aware of my gambling is to stretch reality and to take the situation completely out of context.

 

Additionally, after having served on the finance committee for three years, I wanted to try something new to diversify my experience. For this reason, when a vacancy occurred on the Standing Committee on Health, I welcomed the new opportunity and was appointed on September 19, 2018.

 

There is also incorrect information that has been published about me and my wife’s assets and liabilities that give rise to unfair inferences. As I mentioned before, my wife had no idea about my personal gambling problem until 3 weeks ago. We have been married for only 4 months now and have always maintained separate finances. We do not even have a joint bank account.

 

In January 2018, my wife and I jointly purchased one condo in Toronto for $1.44 million where we currently have a mortgage for $1 million. Like many young Canadians, we worked hard, saved, received help from our parents and invested in real estate as part of our financial plan.

 

The media has implied that the mortgage is in excess of its purchase price, which is not true and not possible under Canada’s banking regime. Additionally, my wife independently purchased a condo four years ago in 2014 for $324,000 with a mortgage for $278,000. I have no ownership in this property and reports of a third condo are false.

 

My wife is a respected and hardworking lawyer. She is not a public figure and it is wrong for her to be implicated by the media, and have her name dragged into this when she had no idea about my personal finances and problems. Again I apologize to her and her family for the grief I caused them.

 

I also have a personal line of credits with three financial institutions, which were disclosed to the ethics commissioner and all are related to my student debts.

 

Additionally, I want to clarify that I only have one personal vehicle. I co-signed one lease to help a friend who needed a car loan, which was the 2018 Dodge Ram. I am not a debtor on any other personal vehicles.

 

There have also been reports about my involvement with the Goreway Bridge project. Since the 2015 campaign, I have been advocating for the Goreway bridge to be completed, because it is an important issue for the people of Brampton East. Throughout my term as an MP, I have routinely requested updates on the status of the project from the Mayor’s office.

 

The sole purpose of my inquiries was to ensure that I could provide an update to my constituents on the status of the project. As part of the routine update request, myself and other recipients received an email containing an unsolicited confidential report from the Mayor of Brampton’s Chief of Staff on November 21, 2017. I did nothing further with this report and to suggest that I leaked confidential information is categorically false.

 

With respect to my other employment relationships, I want to reiterate that they were both disclosed to and approved by the ethics commissioner. Since January 2018, I ended my relationship with one employer and continued to work in a limited capacity with another for the purposes of maintaining my legal skill set. I have worked with the ethics commissioner regarding my employment and will continue to cooperate with his office.

 

What does this all mean for the people of Brampton East? On Wednesday, November 21, after a brief conversation with the Chief Government Whip, I was told that I probably could not remain in caucus and should resign my seat. I asked the government whip to allow me to make my own statement and to tell my family in person. I immediately flew back to Brampton to share the heartbreaking news with my family.

 

In a highly emotional state, completely exhausted and facing an extreme time constraint, I made an ill advised statement on Facebook that I would be resigning my seat. I can see how some might think that it is right for me to resign.

 

For me, this is a very difficult decision to make. In 2015, I made a commitment to the people of Brampton East - to work hard, to be accessible and to represent them in Ottawa – this job remains unfinished. Brampton East and I share a very special bond. Its where I grew up, its where I went to school and its where I will continue to live and serve – no matter whether it's in the public or private realm.

 

After weeks of spending time with my family, receiving treatment, and countless messages of support, in particular from individuals suffering from mental health issues and my constituents, I’ve decided that I will be leaving the Liberal Caucus and taking a leave of absence to focus on my mental health and recovery.

 

I do not take this decision lightly, as it is easier for my family and me to just fade away and avoid the daily media scrutiny this will bring. But I’m prepared to bear up to the embarrassment and recriminations that are sure to come my way, and legitimately so. I will be making a final decision about my political future before Parliament resumes in the new year. During this time, I ask the people of Brampton East for their patience, guidance, and prayers to ensure that the right decision is made.

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