Raj Grewal move from finance committee ‘absolutely not’ linked to gambling, police probe: feds
The decision to move now-beleagured Liberal MP Raj Grewal off the House of Commons finance committee two months prior to the news that he plans to resign because of “gambling problems” was apparently unrelated to ongoing reports of a police investigation.
Grewal announced plans to resign over “personal and medical reasons” on Nov. 22 that the Prime Minister’s Office later confirmed referred to “gambling problems.” However, he remains the MP for Brampton East because he has not yet followed the rules for how to officially resign.
But reports over the last two days have raised questions about why Grewal was removed from his role on the finance committee two months prior to his announcement, on Sept. 19.
His work on that committee had him questioning senior law enforcement officials from the RCMP about the details of how they track money laundering and financial crimes, which prompted Conservative and NDP MPs to question whether his removal from that committee was linked to recent reports that same force was probing his own gambling activity.
“I can confirm his movement had zero to do with the problems before us,” said Mark Holland, the Government Whip who is in charge of membership on committees and handled Grewal’s move off the finance committee and onto the health one.
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Holland said the decision to move Grewal from the finance to the health committee was a matter of “routine” committee changes.
But he would not say whether the decision was made by or for Grewal.
“That is a conversation that is internal,” Holland said.
A report by the Globe and Mail on Monday said RCMP had been probing Grewal’s millions of dollars in gambling activity, which triggered reporting requirements to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (FINTRAC), which subsequently passed the matter on to the federal force.
Meeting records from the House of Commons finance committee show Grewal asking detailed questions of RCMP officials who appeared before it about what kinds of activities would trigger a FINTRAC investigation, whether law enforcement had the resources to look into the cases as well as those involving cryptocurrencies.
NDP MP Peter Julian, one of the vice chairs of that committee, told Global News prior to Holland’s comments that he believed the Liberals must have known about Grewal’s gambling problem when they moved him off.
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“Obviously, Liberals knew months ago,” he said. “They wouldn’t have moved him off without knowing this.”
Global News also reached out to Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, who is also vice chair of that committee, for his thoughts but did not receive a response.
However, Conservative Deputy House Leader Lisa Raitt questioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday about Grewal’s move from the committee.
“This member was removed from the committee on Sept. 19. When did the prime minister know he was under RCMP surveillance?” she asked.
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In response, Trudeau said that the government “learned about the member’s challenges last week when he came forward and told us about his gambling addiction.”
That came after Trudeau had refused to answer questions earlier in the day about Grewal’s move off the committee.
In a statement last week, his office had said: “We are aware of inquiries by the RCMP regarding the circumstances that were the subject of a complaint to the Ethics Commissioner about Mr. Grewal earlier this year.”
The Office of the Ethics Commissioner is currently investigating Grewal’s decision to bring Yusuf Yenilmez, chief executive of a construction firm in his riding, along with him to an event on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s trip to India.
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So far, there is no word on when Grewal plans to actually resign, despite having told constituents he will be doing so.
Global News asked Grewal about that but did not receive a response.
There’s no indication any steps have been taken to stop Grewal receiving his salary of roughly $170,000 or the benefits attached to that.
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Global News also asked the Prime Minister’s Office whether anyone from the government has been in touch with Grewal to tell him to follow the proper procedures for resigning or how long taxpayers can expect to continue paying his salary.
No response has been received.
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