Canadian Liberal Party Not Disclosing Details of Fundraiser for MP with Gambling Debt
The Liberal Party of Canada is refusing to release details about a recent fundraiser held by Parliament member Raj Grewal. This is in the wake of a scandal involving the politician. Grewal has been embattled since the fall when details began to emerge about his gambling addiction. He struggled with millions in gambling debts.
The Rise of Raj Grewal
Rajvinder Grewal, who is from Toronto, is the son of Indian immigrants. His father was a cab driver. Grewal worked as a financial analyst, and, after law school, he worked in mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. He ran for election to the House of Commons from the primarily Asian Brampton East district in 2015. People saw him as an up-and-comer in Parliament. Grewal represented the growing face of immigrants and children of immigrants in Canada. Because of his experience in the finance industry, he quickly gained a position with the influential finance committee.
Problems with Gambling
Nearly as soon as he reached Parliament, however, Grewal’s gambling issues began to show up. As part of Canada’s ongoing battle against money laundering, casinos must disclose money transactions of large denominations to the government. Officials at the Casino du Lac-Leamy, in Quebec, revealed Grewal lost millions at its casino between 2015 and 2018. The casino is very close to Canada’s capital of Ottawa. Since Grewal was millions of dollars in debt, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police began an investigation.
Although Grewal said he would resign, he chose to keep his seat. However, he did resign from the Liberal Caucus. Grewal stated late last month he planned to keep his seat through the next federal election in October. He did not state whether he would run for re-election.
The media began questioning Grewal’s former party when they discovered there was a fundraiser in his name in April 2018. The event was for the Brampton East Liberal Riding Association. It attracted more than 1,200 people, at a cost of $500 per person. This led to a take of $600,000. The media began the investigation because a political organization can only spend $100,000 on an election campaign.
Opposition party members have several questions about the fundraiser. First, they want to know about the amount of money raised and the number of people in attendance. Experts say that, in general, political fundraisers have around 100 guests, even with senior members of the party speaking. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, draws around 100 people to his fundraisers when he speaks.
Grewal said previously that he repaid all his gambling debts with the help of friends and family. However, he refused to name which friends and family members contributed to his debt relief. Grewal did say in a statement that he did not use the fundraiser money to pay off his gambling debts.
The head of the Liberal Party refused to answer questions about the Grewal fundraiser. Reporters asked about the amount of money raised by the fundraiser and who attended. The party head did say that these fundraisers often have many guests who don’t pay. Also, he noted that fundraisers incur substantial costs for speakers’ fees and other entertainment. A spokesman for the party also noted that the funds raised by local riding associations pay for community engagements. The money also funds campaign infrastructure and staffing.
Many reporters and MPs are asking the Liberal Party if it is adhering to its own party platform. The Liberal Party has been touting a transparency initiative with regard to fundraising. However, it only makes financial details available to the public when the prime minister or cabinet member attends.
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