Grewal backflips on decision to quit MP post… for now

Raj Grewal gambling

CANADIAN Liberal politician Raj Grewal has backflipped on his decision to resign from Parliament because of a gambling problem.

The East Brampton representative described his November 22 Facebook post when he said he was standing down as an “ill-advised and irrational statement” when he was still coming to grips with his public outing.

Disappointed constituents have been waiting for Mr Grewal to make a statement about his dramatic fall from grace and some will be disappointed after he revealed on Saturday he would stand down from the Liberal caucus but would not quit his post in Parliament, or make a decision on it until the new year.

Also read: How to gamble in Canada

“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,” his statement said.

Mr Grewal spoke at length about his gambling habit, saying it started innocently enough while he was at university, but spiralled out of control when he was staying at the Hilton Hotel in Gatineau Quebec during a visit to Ottawa in 2016, where he soon began playing high stakes 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,” he said.

“Over a three-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.

“This has nothing to do at all with anything sinister except to feed my own addiction.”

Mr Grewal has been under intense scrutiny with records from meetings he had in his position on the house Finance Committee showing he had a keen interest in anti-money laundering practices, but he denies this was anything other than him doing his job.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Grewal also strongly refuted any wrongdoing surrounding he and his wife Shikha Kasal’s spending habits and declared she was in the dark about his gambling problem.

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