Grewal trailed in poll, but it wasn't a factor
By Dan Ferguson Staff Reporter
Dec 02 2005
I could have won, insists Newton-North Delta MP
A Conservative Party of Canada poll carried out before Newton-North Delta MP Gurmant Grewal resigned showed the controversy-plagued MP faced an uphill battle for re-election. "I was running behind," Grewal told The Leader on Wednesday, the day after he announced he would not be running in the current election.
Grewal would not reveal the exact numbers in the recent poll, except to say he wasn't behind by much. "It was neck and neck."
Grewal said the poll results did not prompt his decision, adding he's won come-from-behind victories three federal elections in a row. "Every single time I was underestimated."
He said he made his decision to withdraw on Monday after learning the Liberals were planning to revive the controversy that erupted when he secretly taped discussions with senior Liberals about him joining the party.
It would be a "smear campaign," Grewal said, one that would twist the facts and paint him as a person of questionable ethics.
Grewal has said the Liberals sought him out and dangled plum jobs to get him to cross the Commons floor, while the Liberals claimed Grewal was the one who made the approach and angled for the postings.
He maintains there are no new revelations that could be used against him. "If I look in my closet, there is not enough inventory in it," he said.
Another factor in his decision was the delayed release of a report on the taping by Parliament's ethics commissioner. Grewal understood the report would be released before the election, and had heard rumours that it would be critical of the Liberals' conduct during the discussions. But without those findings, Grewal said he knew it would be easier for the Liberals to distract voters and divert attention from the governing party's sponsorship scandal. "The dogs (would) keep barking," he said.
Grewal admitted to some frustration, even anger at the way the taping controversy played out. He is proud of having a tough hide, but he tensed and his eyes narrowed for a moment when he was asked about Conservative leader Stephen Harper's decision to crack a joke during a parliamentary press gallery dinner in Ottawa about Grewal re-editing a video tape of a hockey game.
Then, he shrugged it off and said Harper was simply poking fun at news coverage, and he remains confident of his leader's support.
Beyond working "as a family member" to help his MP wife Nina get re-elected, he said he hasn't decided what comes next. He confirmed he has been sounded out about being a talk-show host on a local Punjabi-language radio station, but described it as a tentative offer and only one of several possibilities open to him.
"I'm an optimistic man," he said. "I have an MBA (master of business administration degree). I have options."
He said he may write a book about his experiences as one of the first South Asians to be elected to parliament in Canada.
Grewal is proud of his record, listing off accomplishments that include forcing the federal government to remove radioactive material from Surrey storage sites, campaigning to win legal protection for whistle-blowers and the elimination of taxes on taxes.
In nine years as MP, he said he never took a vacation.
The 47-year-old will not be eligible to collect a parliamentary pension until he turns 55.
"I used to think politics is a noble profession," he said. Now, he said the battering he took over the tapes and other issues has left him "somewhat cynical" about the way the political game is played.
(Unrelated: Cindy Silver, North Vancouver)