Gambling MP Will Not Take a Gamble on Re-Election
The former Liberal rep, who won the Brampton East, Ontario, seat with a landslide victory in 2015, announced he was stepping away from federal politics in November 2018 to deal with what he described as “a compulsive gambling problem”.
However, the 34-year-old son of an airport cab driver, kept his seat in the House of Commons and in January 2019 declared he would keep his seat in parliament as an Independent MP until this year’s election.
Grewal’s story is a fascinating one. Prior to his legal studies he worked as a financial analyst and after becoming a lawyer he specialized in mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance on Bay Street. Such an astute background with money and finance did not prevent the politician falling down the slippery slope of chasing losses in a casino environment.
Blackjack to Bust
A tell-all video posted on his Facebook page explained how he got into the habit of frequenting the Hilton hotel in Gatineau, Que. It houses the Lac-Leamy Casino and there, from what started as recreational blackjack “spiralled into a significant problem”. Huge debts, to fund his out of control habit, were accumulated during the following years and he routinely borrowed from his loved ones to continue playing the casinos tables.
No money was obtained illegally but CBC News reported at the time that Grewal’s recent filing with the ethics commissioner’s office at the time showed he had been carrying lines of credit with three separate banks: RBC, TD Bank and Scotiabank. Along with another individual he also held an HSBC mortgage.
“I want to make it clear, that every single personal loan made to me was by cheque. Everybody has been paid back and every loan and repayment is transparent and traceable,” he said in his Facebook video.
If an MP was an unlikely candidate for a gambling problem, the way his enormous casino losses were exposed was also unconventional. It was an undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police wiretap operation, as part of an investigation related to drugs, gambling and money-laundering, which led to the Ontario Provincial Police inform the Prime Minister’s Office of Raj Grewal huge financial movements as he financed his gambling habit.