In The Media

Rookie Liberal MP Grewal throws down gauntlet to NDP Leader Singh, would 'welcome the challenge' in 2019 election

by Abbas Rana (feat. Andrew Griffith)

The Hill Times
October 9, 2017

Rookie Liberal MP Raj Grewal says if the new NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh chooses to run against him in Brampton East, Ont., in 2019, he would “welcome the challenge” to compete against the man who just won the federal leadership with 53.8 per cent of the vote on the first ballot and who has represented the same riding provincially for six years.

“I take a lot of pride in serving and working hard there,” said Mr. Grewal (Brampton East, Ont.), in an interview with The Hill Times in the House foyer last week. “So, I welcome the challenge in 2019 from the Conservative Party or the NDP.”

Both Mr. Grewal, 32, and Mr. Singh, 38, are turban wearing Sikhs who practised law before entering politics. The riding of Brampton East is the second most ethnically diverse riding in the country after Scarborough North, Ont. According to data compiled by Andrew Griffith, an expert on multiculturalism in Canada, Brampton East has a visible minority population of 87.6 per cent and Scarborough North 90.1 per cent. Markham Thornhill is the third most ethnically diverse riding in the country with 82 per cent.

In Brampton East, about 60 per cent of the population is South Asian, including 33.8 per cent who are Sikh, 19.5 per cent Hindu, and 7.7 per cent Muslims. 

According to Mr. Griffith, there are 33 federal ridings across the country where the visible minority population is more than 50 per cent.

Mr. Singh told The Hill Times last week that he had not decided which riding he would run in in 2019. Born in Toronto and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador and Windsor, Ont., Mr. Singh is currently a two-term MPP in the Ontario legislature representing the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton. This riding has been rejigged and renamed to Brampton East, and will come into effect in the next provincial election. The federal riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton was reconfigured and renamed to Brampton East in 2013, and came into effect in the 2015 federal election.

He said he would want to run in a riding he has a personal connection with.

Mr. Singh was elected as the new federal NDP leader on Sunday, Oct. 1 on the first ballot. The second place candidate Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay, Ont.) won 19.4 per cent of the vote, Niki Ashton (Churchill-Keewartinook Aski, Man.) came in third place with 17.4 per cent and Guy Caron (Rimouski-Neigette- Témiscouata-Les Basques, Que.) won fourth place with 9.4 per cent. 

Mr. Singh succeeded outgoing NDP leader Tom Mulcair (Outremont, Que.). Last week, Mr. Singh announced that he would resign from his provincial seat in the near future.

Mr. Singh has not made a commitment to run for a federal seat until 2019. Last week, he appointed Mr. Caron as the parliamentary leader in the House.

Mr. Singh told The Hill Times that if he decided to run in Brampton East, the constituents in the riding would be excited to support a candidate who is also a national party leader and who had represented the riding provincially.

“I have an incredible amount of support, a lot of love and people are really excited to see a leader from a national party come from their city,” said Mr. Singh. “There’s going to be an incredible amount of excitement there. I’m confident that people will be excited and be encouraged to have representation of that calibre in Ottawa.” 

In 2015, Mr. Grewal, won the riding with 52.2 per cent of the votes, followed by second-place Conservative candidate Naval Bajaj who won 23.5 per cent, and the third place NDP candidate Harbaljit Kahlon won 23 per cent of the votes.

Mr. Grewal said if Mr. Singh does decide to run in Brampton East it would be the second time both teams would be facing off against each other. In 2015, Mr. Singh hand-picked the federal NDP candidate, Mr. Kahlon, in Brampton East and used his “considerable influence in the region” to try to get his candidate elected. Mr. Grewal said if Mr. Singh runs against him it would likely be the same team behind Mr. Singh.

“I’ll be straight with you: I recruited the candidate in Brampton East, personally, like I went out and found the guy,” Mr. Singh told National Post on Aug. 18, 2015.

Mr. Grewal said the Liberals won the riding because of Mr. Trudeau’s popularity, which, he said, is still strong in Brampton and the rest of the country and, coupled with his own hard work on the ground, will help him in winning the riding again.

“Certain people guaranteed a certain outcome and it didn’t happen,” Mr. Grewal said. “This isn’t the first time that our teams will compete against each other.

“We have a very popular prime minister in prime minister Justin Trudeau and he’s loved in Brampton. He’s probably the most famous politician in Brampton right now and I look forward to campaigning in 2019. I have always worked really, really hard to earn my spot in politics.”

But Mr. Singh said the bloom has come off the rose and the Trudeau Liberals are not as popular as they were in 2015 because of their broken signature election promises, including reforming Canada’s electoral system, and he said the government “doesn’t understand” the economic struggles and the “racial injustices” that average Canadians face.

Mr. Singh said Mr. Grewal may be not be as connected on the ground as he thinks. “Trudeau doesn’t understand the economic struggles and some of the racial injustices that people face. There’ll be a stronger connection with the values, principles and commitments I bring versus the betrayal and broken promises, and lack of real understanding of the issues that people face by Mr. Trudeau,” Mr. Singh said.

According to the weekly Nanos rolling poll released on Oct. 3, the federal Liberal Party has the support of 38.1 per cent of Canadians, followed by the Conservatives with 31.2 per cent, the NDP 15. 2 per cent and the Green Party 6.7 per cent. This poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Mr. Singh said his aim for the next election is to win a majority government. He said the Liberals were the third-place party in 2011 and won a majority government in 2015 and he doesn’t see why his party can’t do the same in 2019.

“I want to form government, that’s our target, and we’re going to work towards that,” said Mr. Singh.

“People said that about another party that was in third place that went from third place to first place,” Mr. Singh said. “I’m confident we can do it because we have stronger values, better principles, and a deeper commitment to making a better and more just Canada.”

Mr. Trudeau and his party won a majority government in 2015 with 184 of the maximum 338 seats nationally. The Conservatives won 99, the NDP 44, Bloc Québécois 10, and the Green Party one. In 2011, Conservatives won a majority government with 166 seats in the 308 member House of Commons. The NDP won 103 seats, the Liberals 34, Bloc Quebecois four and the Green Party one seat.

In 2011, Mr. Singh ran federally in the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, but lost to Conservative Bal Gosal by a margin of only .9 per cent of the votes. In 2015, Mr. Gosal, who served as minister of state for Sport in the Stephen Harper government, ran in the riding of Brampton Centre, and lost to Liberal MP Ramesh Sangha by a margin of 15 per cent of the votes.

Riding Name Province MP Name  Visible Minority Population %

Scarborough North   Ontario           Liberal MP Shaun Chen 90.1%

Brampton East          Ontario           Liberal MP Raj Grewal 87.6%

Markham-Thornhill  Ontario           Liberal MP John McCallum* 82%

Vancouver South       British Columbia       Liberal MP Harjit Sajjan 79.2%

Scarborough-Agincourt        Ontario           Liberal MP Arnold Chan* 79%

Markham-Unionville Ontario           Conservative MP Bob Saroya 78.8%

Mississauga-Malton  Ontario           Liberal MP Navdeep Bains 75.2%

Etobicoke North        Ontario           Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan 72.8%

Surrey-Newton          British Columbia       Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal 72.2%

York West      Ontario           Liberal MP Judy Sgro 72.2%

Brampton West         Ontario           Liberal MP Kamal Khera 71.2%

Vancouver Kingsway            British Columbia NDP MP Don Davies        71.1%

Steveston-Richmond East    British Columbia Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido       70.5%

Richmond Centre      British Columbia       Conservative MP Alice Wong 70.3%

Scarborough-Rouge Park     Ontario           Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree 70.2%

Scarborough-Guildwood      Ontario           Liberal MP John McKay 68.1%

Don Valley North       Ontario           Liberal MP Geng Tan 67.1%

Mississauga Centre   Ontario           Liberal MP Omar Alghabra 67%

Scarborough Centre             Ontario           Liberal MP Salma Zahid 64.4%

Burnaby South          British Columbia       Liberal MP Adam Pankratz 63.4%

Fleetwood-Port Kells            British Columbia       Liberal MP Ken Hardie 62.3%

Brampton North        Ontario           Liberal MP Ruby Sahota 61.4%

Willowdale     Ontario           Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi 60.3%

Surrey Centre            British Columbia       Liberal MP Randeep Sarai 60.1%

Calgary Skyview        Alberta           Independent MP Darshan Kang* 59.6%

Brampton South        Ontario           Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu 59.5%

Mississauga-Erin Mills          Ontario           Liberal MP Iqra Khalid 59.5%

Don Valley East         Ontario           Liberal MP Yasmin Ratansi 55.9%

Richmond Hill            Ontario           Liberal MP Majid Jowhari 54.9%

York South-Weston   Ontario           Liberal MP Ahmed Hussen 54.3%

Brampton Centre      Ontario           Liberal MP Ramesh Sangha 53.7%

Scarborough Southwest       Ontario           Liberal MP Bill Blair 51.1%

Saint-Laurent            Quebec           Liberal MP Stéphane Dion* 50.4%

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