March 11, 2004: The Now: Grewals 'hedging bets,' Polak charges
Grewals 'hedging bets,' Polak charges
Surrey school trustee Mary Polak pulled her bid for the Conservative nomination in Fleetwood-Port Kells yesterday.
Polak said she quit the race because Surrey-Central Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal and his wife Nina had both filed nomination papers in that riding and in Newton-North Delta, a move she called undemocratic.
"I'm done. This is just crazy," Polak said.
"They're hedging their bets, waiting to see where they have the best chance to win. The end of this book has been written."
Several hours later, Grewal announced he will run in Newton-North Delta and Nina in Fleetwood-Port Kells.
Grewal said they filed in both ridings because the party's national office was unable to supply membership lists before the filing deadline for nominations. He said so many new memberships were coming in, the party couldn't process them quickly enough. Grewal said the lists only became available late Tuesday morning.
"We never intended to run in more than one riding. We just needed that information before making a decision," he said.
That, said Polak, proves her point.
"They wanted to see where they could win instead of just filing in one riding and running a clean campaign," she said.
Grewal denied that and said Polak's charges were nothing but sour grapes.
"Mary Polak is simply finding an excuse because she didn't work hard. Of a total of about 1,100 members in that riding, Mary Polak had less than 100. That's why she quit, nothing else."
Polak called that nonsense, saying there's no way Grewal could know how many members she signed up.
"There's nowhere on there that says who signed up who. Gurmant's just trying to put a big happy face on all of this."
The two ridings were created when Surrey-Central was split. The Conservatives' Newton-North Delta nomination meeting will be held Feb. 28 and Fleetwood-Port Kells on Feb. 29.
Surrey-North MP Chuck Cadman also faces a serious challenge for his riding's nomination after his new rival Jasbir Cheema, a former TV news anchor for Channel M, reportedly signed up close to 1,500 members to the riding association, which currently has only about 268.
"It comes down to a numbers game, which is unfortunate because I don't believe that's how the process was initially designed to work," said Cadman, 56.
First elected to Parliament in 1997, Cadman said he only recently learned of several large membership sign-ups in Surrey submitted just before his party's deadline earlier this month. Cadman said the membership problem cuts across political lines since other provincial and federal parties have had the same situation.
"Unfortunately it looks like it comes down to who can sign up the most members," said Cadman. "I can stand up in front of a room full of 1,500 or 2,000 people right now and if somebody else signed up 1,500 of them I can talk about policy until I'm blue in the face and it won't make any difference."
Cheema, who doesn't live in Surrey-North, is a friend of Grewal, who said he advised Cheema not to run against Cadman.
- with files from Sterling News Service