When in Rome, do as ... when in Brampton ...

di Joe Volpe del December 6, 2018

TORONTO - Integration is a slow process for anyone.

Frankly, it involves, among many other factors, adapting to the time-tested customs and practices of your new surroundings.

That, in and of itself, consciously or otherwise, dictates an ability and willingness to learn about the basic “codes” – legal and ethical, social and moral – that characterize “acceptable” norms. It also carries with it an incumbent obligation (“civic responsibility”) to uphold those “norms”.

One of them is “honesty”.

In our multi-ethnic, multiracial, multicultural society, it transcends pigmentation politics and tribalism.

It is a “guide” with which every individual can identify. Even children sense innately what is or is not “fair”.

Some view the Press and Media as integral to seeking out the information required to make a balanced value judgement: has this sense of honesty has been breached or is it a question of a “drive by smear”, a reckless or malicious accusation? Raj Grewal, a lawyer and MP for Brampton East, has made certain decisions that have attracted national attention.

The consequences have spilled over to include his Party and his long-time friend, Navdeep Bains, also an MP and Minister.

Initially, Mr. Grewal, a “youngish” man in his prime, announced his resignation, citing medical issues. The Press and Media swarmed to the story.

Mr. Grewal had admitted to a gambling problem affecting his mental health.

In his capacity as an MP, he asked questions in Committee related to how or why the RCMP would trace sources of money “deposited” in the course of banking or gaming.

The RCMP had apparently already been investigating his actions.

Then, Mr. Grewal, unprompted, revisited his decision, announcing that he had paid off the substantial debts (in the millions of dollars) incurred as a result of his habit. How much? To whom? And in return for what?

Two newspapers, the Pointer Brampton and the National Post, in their quest for answers, came upon a land deal that merited further examination.

The “deal” suggested some potential connections to both MPs and a possible relationship to the financing issues faced by Mr. Grewal. They discovered that a 20-acre parcel of Provincial land, coveted by the City of Brampton as part of a solution to its transportation issues, was acquired by a private company – Goreway Heaven Inc. – and resold in a few short months … to the City of Brampton!

The “flip” netted Goreway a cool 33% - $1.1 million profit. A natural question for the Press, or anybody for that matter, why spend $3.3 million only to sell so quickly? Goreway claims it found out [subsequent] to the purchase that the parcel was “landlocked” and that it could no longer use the property. Seems odd.

The National Post, among others apparently, including the RCMP, received a document from the City, prior to both transactions, that shows the provincial asking price. That document had previously been given to both Grewal and Bains as part of an advance ask by the City for Infrastructure funding. The principals of Goreway Heaven have close social and political ties to both MPs, the National Post further discovered.

It duly published the vehement denials of the principals of Goreway that there had been anything untoward. Or that anything looped back to the debts that Mr. Grewal had incurred. The protestations of innocence by both the MPs and their friends ensued like a cacophony of self-righteousness by characters in Shakespearean drama.

For good measure, references on their behalf included a former Reform/Conservative candidate and immigration lawyer, Joel Etienne. Before anyone could ask how any of these players were related to the debt pay-down of Mr. Grewal’s habit, the Bramptonist, a local paper self-fashioned as the voice of the Southeast Asian Community, published a lengthy exculpatory piece quoting Minister Bains. The Bramptonist was convinced that there is nothing more to the story, except “the usual racist” allegations. What are they?

Unfortunately, we are no closer to determining whether the events smack of a drive-by smear or represent the failings of adherence to the norm of honesty.

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