The first person of Indian descent to hold political office in Surrey has thrown his lot in with Maxime Bernier’s new People’s Party of Canada, which is drawing curt treatment from the press.
The fledgling party is being characterized as a potential magnet for racists. But Bernier, a Quebec MP, has said people with racist views will not be welcomed into its fold.
After launching his new and perhaps unfortunately named PP party last week, Bernier was its sole sitting member when parliament reconvened on Monday. Despite that, the former Conservative MP intends to run candidates in the next federal election in every riding.
Will former Surrey MP Gurmant Grewal, who supports Bernier’s new party, be on the roster?
“I don’t know, that is too early to say,” Grewal told the Now-Leader on Monday.
Grewal served three terms as MP, from 1997 to 2006. He was first elected as Reform MP for what was then Surrey Central. He was re-elected in 2000 under the Canadian Alliance banner, and in 2004 as Conservative MP in Newton-North Delta. During his time as MP he served as senior critic for foreign affairs and multiculturalism, among other shadow-cabinet positions.
Grewal didn’t run in 2006, and has been a political sideliner ever since. His wife, Nina Grewal, also a three-term MP, represented the Conservatives in Fleetwood-Port Kells from 2004 until she was defeated by Liberal Ken Hardie in 2015.
The Grewals also made Canadian history as the first married couple to serve as MPs at the same time.
Last year, Bernier won 12 out of 13 rounds at the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race but ultimately lost to Andrew Scheer.
Gurmant Grewal supported Bernier then and says he is supporting him now because the would-be prime minister “is speaking on behalf of a huge silent majority who is frustrated with the Conservative leadership and the way the party is governed.
“I hope his vision, experience and guidance will help lead the Canadians including the frustrated Conservatives, Liberals and NDPers in the right direction,” he said.
“I tried to correct their mistakes but they didn’t listen,” Grewal said of the Conservative Party. “Now in the new initiative, People’s Party of Canada, we are working towards addressing some of the issues, we have to lay out the policy platform, we have the organization structure and so many other things. Then I will decide after that whether I will run, if I decide to run, then where to run.”
According to maximebernier.com, Canada’s immigration policy “must aim to fulfill” the nation’s economic needs and “must not be used as a tool to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada.”
The website also says “immigrants are expected to integrate in our society, not to live in ghettos and try to replicate the way of life of their country of origin in Canada,” and that Bernier would reverse the Liberal government’s annual intake of 300,000 immigrants to 250,000 immigrants “as it was on average under the Harper government.”
Gurmant’s wife, Nina Grewal, was out of town and not available for comment whether she also supports Bernier and might consider a return to politics.
Gurmant, who is an immigrant himself, said Bernier has “made it very clear that he is pro-immigration.
“He made it very clear he is not anti-immigrant.
“Canada is built by immigrants,” the former Surrey MP noted.
“But we have to have policies in place that will make sure that immigration is needs-based.”