Thursday afternoon at about 4:00pm, the Prime Minister and his Liberal MP for Brampton East, Raj Grewal, put up social media posts announcing Grewal’s resignation as MP.
The circumstances around the resignation suggest the reasons are likely serious — certainly more serious than initially admitted by Trudeau or Grewal.
Grewal is 33 years old and was was serving his first time as MP. He was just getting started — now it’s over.
The Prime Minister’s social media post pointed to “personal challenges” and hoped Grewal would receive “the support he needs.” Grewal’s post said he quit for “personal and medical reasons.”
We’ve seen that one before. Just weeks ago, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the resignation of cabinet minister Jim Wilson with a communication that directed readers to an unspecified addiction problem as the reason.
But anyone who watches politics — anyone who thinks about work — immediately knew Ford wasn’t telling the whole story.
Wilson didn’t just quit as Minister. He quit the Conservative caucus. And that was a tell. When a member of a party caucus is having personal struggles — a family crisis, an addiction, any serious illness — the caucus doesn’t abandon them. On the contrary, like a family or a decent workplace, a party caucus shows solidarity with a member in tough times. It gives them them the time to address their problem and return to the job they had. It doesn’t push them out. Unless that’s only part of the story.
So no one was surprised when, over the net couple days, Global News discovered allegations of sexual impropriety against Wilson.
A similar story was spun about Liberal MP Hunter Tootoo. In 2016 he resigned from the Liberal caucus, under cover of an story about alcohol addiction. That story seems to have been true — Tootoo did reportedly undertake alcohol addiction treatment — but only part of the truth. Later it was reported that Tootoo had “inappropriate” sexual relationships in the workplace.
The story that the PMO has told us about Raj Grewal is that he suffers from a gambling addiction. And if that was the full story, Grewal would likely have been supported by his party through treatment.
Of course, we already know there’s more to the story — on Friday afternoon, the PMO confirmed there is at least one police probe into Grewal and hinted at a second.
And we don’t know how much more. But by the actions that have taken place, it’s substantial. Because unlike Tootoo or Wilson, Grewal didn’t just “quit” his party caucus. He quit as an Member of Parliament.
That’s a significant difference. And it’s not just a difference a little farther down the spectrum. It’s a qualitative difference.
A party leader can put someone out of cabinet or caucus. In good graces they’re allowed to resign. But no party leader has the power to make an MP quit.
How exactly Raj Grewal came to quit, what discussions the PMO or government whip might have had with him over what timeline, and the nature of his police problems are all unclear. But following from the histories of other incidents, the actions surrounding this one suggest it is serious.