Gurmant Grewal, a Conservative MP between 1997 and 2006, said while he played a key role in merging the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservative Party, the new party now led Andrew Scheer has "lost touch" with grassroots members and is run by "inexperienced kids." Grewal described Bernier as a grassroots member with good leadership qualities and vision. “Maxime Bernier is speaking on behalf of a huge silent majority who is frustrated with the Conservative leadership and the way the party is governed. He has demonstrated courage by standing up for the members and Canadians. I hope his vision, experience and guidance will help lead the Canadians including the frustrated Conservatives, Liberals and NDPers in the right direction”, said Grewal. But will the gamble pay off for Grewal under Bernier-led party like it did for him under Reform.
By R. Paul Dhillon
With News Files
OTTAWA — Former Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal is gambling his political career on controversial Conservative MP Maxime Bernier's new The People's Party of Canada but will the gamble pay off like it did when Grewal joined Reform back in the 1990s and found his way to Ottawa on the first try for an MP post.
Bernier, who spent much of the last year butting heads with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer over party policy on supply management, announced last month he was leaving the Conservatives to start his own party. While he has touted having several prominent people behind him, nobody has come forward publicly until now.
Grewal, a Conservative MP between 1997 and 2006, said while he played a key role in merging the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservative Party, the new party has "lost touch" with grassroots members and is run by "inexperienced kids."
"They became arrogant, the leadership became arrogant," he said.
Grewal should know as he and his son Liv Grewal were denied a chance to run in the last election under the Conservative party ticket.
While Grewal's fate was determined prior to the heated nomination meeting in Surrey-Cloverdale, Liv won a landslide victory for a nomination in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon but that victory was undemocratically snatched from him by the party and the nomination given to a White Conservative candidate who lost against federal Liberal Jeti Sidhu.
“It is hurting to see the Conservative Party of Canada splitting but rather than continue supporting a party by holding your nose, it is better to be courageous and do the right thing to stand up for what is right”, said Grewal.
“A few control-freak individuals, who have forgotten their roots, principles and values based on which the party was founded, have hijacked the Conservative Party. Despite doing a reasonably good job on some fronts, the Conservative government lost the last election. Rather than self-evaluation and learning from their mistakes, they have instead become arrogant, egoistic, elitist and has alienated the grassroots membership and volunteers”, said Grewal.
But with the controversial Bernier, Grewal is taking a risk in supporting him but given that he is unwanted by the Scheer Conservatives, he had no other choice but to seek a national political platform and Bernier is a branded national rightwing leader.
Grewal described Bernier as a grassroots member with good leadership qualities and vision.
“Maxime Bernier is speaking on behalf of a huge silent majority who is frustrated with the Conservative leadership and the way the party is governed. He has demonstrated courage by standing up for the members and Canadians. I hope his vision, experience and guidance will help lead the Canadians including the frustrated Conservatives, Liberals and NDPers in the right direction”, concluded Grewal
He said if Bernier asks him to run as a candidate, he will.
"That will be a decision made later on," he said, adding that for now his energy is focused on rallying members to support Bernier.
Grewal said he would also help Bernier with ethnic outreach, saying he had some success in that in the past.
"I have been very helpful in the past. I was one of the first minority candidates of the Reform Party way back in 1996, I played a significant role in the outreach with minority communities, ethnic communities not only in British Columbia but also across the country," he said.
Grewal also took shots at the Conservative establishment. His decision is also big FU to former leader Stephen Harper, who had a fallout with Grewal and who relegated him to political banishment from the party.
“The big-stick Ottawa leadership has made the party top-down again. The ordinary paid members have been made insignificant and are considered only as cash cows for fund-raising; their input in policy initiatives, voluntarism, involvement in local campaigns and nomination process of selecting candidates have been shunned. The morally corrupt leadership not only shut down hearing the voice of ordinary members and the riding associations but rather threaten, insult and bully with the party lawyers”, continued the former MP.”
“The leadership is devoid of new ideas and vision, and are missing-in-action on the important issues confronting the nation; while they continue to remain embroiled into petty party politics. As official opposition, the Conservative leadership has dropped the ball on holding the Liberals feet to the fire and have given them a free ride”, reiterated Grewal.
Grewal is hoping to stick it to his former party and the leadership that wronged him.
“The principles and values that once defined our party are now getting extinct. Change is needed – either the leadership has to change the way the party is run or accept the consequences. They have to get out of the cocoon, and listen to the Canadians and change the way this party has been evolving. I hate to see the conservatives divide or polarize but sometimes the systemic problems cannot be corrected with a band-aid solution. If the leadership does not respect the grassroots members, why would the grassroots members respect its leadership?”