April 6, 2005: The Now: MP's $50,000-bond idea raises eyebrows
MP's $50,000-bond idea raises eyebrows
By Tom Zytaruk
A Surrey Conservative MP's unorthodox way of dealing with his constituents' requests for help in getting Canadian visitors visas for their relatives abroad is raising some eyebrows. Gurmant Grewal, MP for Newton-North Delta, has been asking constituents to sign a paper saying they'd be willing to post a bond for $50,000 to ensure the applicant returns to their country on or before the date their visa expires before he'll vouch for them.
"It's simply to judge them, if they're genuine or not," Grewal said. Grewal said he doesn't want to be among those MPs who've been "blacklisted" by the minister of immigration for vouching for someone who ultimately broke their word.
The Surrey MP said his unusual request is borne of frustration with Canada's broken immigration system. "The system is a mess and I don't want to be the victim of this messy system," he said. Grewal said he's trying to prevent abuse in the system and protect his own reputation from "being tarnished."
"There's no money changing hands," he said. "This document may not be legally enforceable, but it acts as a litmus test for me to separate people who want to abuse the system, from the genuine people."
Grewal said he's asked constituents for written assurances about 15 times and so far only one declined. "I said to them, look, if you're not prepared to vouch for your own relative, how do expect me to vouch for your relative?" Grewal told the Now.
He said he can't cash the "guarantees" as no real money or cheque is involved. "It's not enforceable."
"This system has nothing to do with cash, nothing to do with 'I owe you,'" he said.
Grewal revealed his visa policy to a parliamentary committee last week. Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland told the Province newspaper it shocked everyone in the room. "He said he's done it and I looked over at people and one turned purple," Kurland is quoted as saying.