Monday, March 22, 2004

March 22, 2004: Grewal's letter to the Now: I was against Cheema's attempt to unseat Cadman

Grewal against bid by Cheema to unseat Cadman

The Editor,

I had no intention of being part of any letter-writing campaign because I didn't want to take my focus away from diligently serving my constituents; however, a great deal of misinformation has now come out that I feel needs to be clarified:

1. I am on record admitting that the nomination process is not perfect. While all residents should be welcomed to join political parties, the selection of candidates should be limited to Canadian citizens, as is the case in general elections. I believe members and candidates should be in good standing with a political party for at least six months and one year, respectively, in order to be eligible, rather than for only the current 21-day period. Until the process is fixed, we have to live with it. In the interim, the best we can do is to try to make it as democratic as possible through our participation.

2. Let me be clear in that I have never stacked memberships nor bused people to nomination meetings. My volunteers and I have signed each one of my members either through door-knocking or a personal phone call. Each of the members I submitted signed their membership form.

3. Jasbir Cheema was my university classmate (1974-78). He sought my advice to run in Surrey North. I strongly advised him that I could only support him if he ran in Vancouver South, where he has lived for the last seven years and certainly not against my colleague, Chuck Cadman, who has continued to work hard, along with me, since 1997.

4. Nina, my wife, is very passionate about fighting the continuous erosion of family values and an ineffective criminal justice system, among other things. As an active member since 1996 of the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party of Canada, she has assisted in building the party. She has deferred her decision to run for quite some time, since her first priority has always been our sons, who were then young but are now in post-secondary. After consulting with the party leadership and officials about her intent, she decided to run in this election and has been encouraged to do so.

5. I've worked hard during both of my terms to represent the constituents of Surrey Central; the largest constituency in Canada by population, which has now split into Fleetwood-Port Kells and Newton-North Delta. Such divisions do not commonly occur. Obviously, in such circumstances, a number of factors impact the tough decision to pick a riding in which to run. During the nomination process as it currently stands, one week is given after the deadline for membership to re-assess one's chances before making the decision as to whether or not to file for candidacy. During that one week, the party could not tell me what the membership numbers were due to an influx of signups to vote for the leadership race and simultaneous nationwide nomination contests. I had no choice but to submit my candidacy forms in both ridings, subject to withdrawal from one as soon as the national office provided me with the numbers. The national office took about 10 days to provide that information rather than the stipulated one week. As soon as I received it, I made my informed decision. Nina obviously had no intention to run in two ridings or to run against me but was affected by my decision. Throughout all of this, no one was ever placed at an advantage. The only deciding factor was the numbers, based on which some candidates decided to continue and others, who discovered they didn't have numbers, withdrew. I take full responsibility for my actions, despite the fact that the rush at the national office triggered this chain of events. Whether we like it or not, democracy is about numbers.

I have recently held my regular townhall meetings and am always available to my constituents to discuss these or any other issues affecting us in Surrey Central. For the last seven years, my track record has spoken to my integrity, dedication and credibility. It has indeed been an honour and privilege to represent Surrey Central, and I thank my constituents for their co-operation and understanding. I promise that I will continue to listen to my constituents and work hard to help and represent them if they elect to continue giving me that opportunity.

Gurmant Grewal, MP
Surrey Central