Canadian Sikh MP Under Pressure From Opposition Over ‘Ethics Violation’

The Liberal Party of Canada is facing questions over ethics violations during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's India trip.


Canadian Liberal MP Raj Grewal is in the midst of a controversy following criticism that he got an invitation for his employer for an event in New Delhi where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was present.

Grewal, a first-term MP for Brampton East, secured invites for Brampton construction executive Yusuf Yenilmez for high level events in India with the Canadian delegation, which is being seen as a violation of the ethics code for MPs by the Opposition parties.

Grewal has received “employment income” from Yenilmez’s company Zgemi Inc. since April 2017 for providing legal services for private disputes.

New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Charlie Angus and Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie have asked Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion to investigate Grewal. Conservative MP Peter Kent (Thornhill) said that the Liberal MP’s business relationship with Yenilmez has the potential for conflict of interest.

“Why did he enable or get an invitation for Mr. Yenilmez?” Kent said, the Toronto Star reported. “I think any reasonable person would see there is very real potential for conflict of interest in this situation.”

Grewal’s party has come to his defense, saying that the commissioner is aware of the business relationship between Grewal and Yenilmez.

The primary contention of the Conservative Party against Grewal’s action is that Yenilmez would have had access to senior members of the government to discuss business interests.

Yenilmez attended business delegation events with Trudeau in Mumbai and New Delhi during the Canadian Prime Minister’s India trip in February this year. On Zgemi’s Facebook page, Yenilmez can be seen posing with members of Trudeau’s delegation, including Katie Telford, his chief of staff; Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development; Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan; Government House leader Bardish Chagger; Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi; and Nadir Patel, Canada’s High Commissioner in India.

“We were obviously there together at events but nothing was pre-planned or co-ordinated before,” Grewal told the Toronto Star. While he denied facilitating access to the events for Yenilmez, Trudeau’s office said that Grewal did secure the invitation for the construction business owner for an event organized by Canada’s high commissioner. “MP Grewal invited him to the reception,” Trudeau spokesperson Chantal Gagnon told the Toronto Star in an email.

According to the ethics commissioner’s office, Grewal is not subject to Conflict of Interest Act but only the ethics code, according to which the lawmaker did not need the commissioner’s permission before inviting Yenilmez but should have taken care that he doesn’t make personal gains by using his office.

“I signed up independently as a Canadian business looking to partner with Indian business looking to expand in Canada,” Yenilmez said. “Zgemi is working hard to expand across Canada and the world.”

The Trudeau administration has been battling the Jaspal Atwal scandal and a fall in his popularity after the India trip, that left the ruling party embarrassed. The Conservative opposition had conducted marathon voting in the House of Commons to force Trudeau’s administration to answer questions about the presence of Atwal, a convicted Khalistan sympathizer, during an official event in India.

The government offered on April 3 to give an unclassified briefing by Trudeau’s National Security Adviser Daniel Jean to the MPs on Commons Committee, and a more in-depth classified briefing to Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

Trudeau’s popularity also took a hit after the India trip, according to CBC’s Poll Tracker. Conservative Party is now in the lead at 37.7 per cent of voting intentions compared with Trudeau’s Liberals at 33.7 per cent.

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