Resignation of Canadian Minister Navdeep Bains saves Liberal Party from embarrassment on corruption charges

Earlier this week, Canadian Minister Navdeep Bains publicly declared to resign from his post and quit politics on personal grounds - to give more time to his family. 

Resignation of Canadian Minister Navdeep Bains saves Liberal Party from embarrassment on corruption charges
Image courtesy: Reuters

New Delhi: The resignation of Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Science, Innovation, and Industry has surprised many across the world. Experts observing Canadian politics underscore the fact that the development is not as simple as it looks. Rather, it should be seen as an attempt by the ruling Liberal Party to save itself from frequent embarrassments on corruption charges and the toil to cover those cases up.

Earlier this week, Canadian Minister Navdeep Bains publicly declared to resign from his post and quit politics on personal grounds - to give more time to his family. 

In November 2018, The Pointer exposed the news of corruption in a land deal and highlighted that Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey's chief of staff Hasneet Punia had shared confidential details regarding a deal of a piece of land measuring 20-acre to Navdeep Bains, and another liberal MP Raj Grewal. 

The expose shocked Canada and uncovered the brazen corruption practiced by the lawmakers. Subsequently, the Brampton council ordered a third-party investigation into the matter and sent its details to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The case of corruption in the land deal is itself an interesting one, underscoring the sharpness of the two liberal MPs in practicing corruption and cleaning their hands at the same time. In fact, after receiving information from Hasneet Punia about the planned land purchase, local businessmen with links to Navdeep Bains and the Liberal Party purchased that specific piece of land from the Ontario Province and then sold it to the Brampton City at a much higher price than what the City was planning to offer initially.

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The land the city was planning to purchase for an amount of $3.3 million, eventually cost the city $4.4 million - an extra $1.1 Million on accounts of the public exchequer - hard-earned money of the taxpayers. The company involved in the land deal was Goreway Heaven and one of its directors, Bhagwan Grewal, accompanied Prime Minister Trudeau to his infamous trip to India in 2018. Besides, about half of its directors have been making handsome donations to the Liberal Party.

On investigation by the RCMP, it was found that Grewal, now a former MP, was a history-sheeter in corruption and has been practising it on a blanket basis at various levels. In September 2020, Grewal was charged for corruption on five major grounds, including fraud and breach of trust for misusing his constituency budget while serving as an MP.

Local sources argue that the reason behind stepping down of Bains might be a preemptive attempt by the Trudeau government to save itself from a major embarrassment as the RCMP has already found enough evidence to prove charges of corruption on Bains in a number of cases. The Liberal government is already trying to cope up with popular sentiments against the party after stepping down from the Finance Minister on corruption charges in August.

However, this is not the only case of corruption that Bains is involved in. The name of Bains emerged in the infamous Fort Erie gurdwara scam last year as well. The gurdwara has sponsored three religious preachers from India and got them special visas from the Ottawa administration. Later, it was discovered that the gurdwara has not even been operational and was used as a cover by Bains and his associates to bring in immigrants illegally from India to Canada. 

Canadian authorities could not find the traces of three Indian priests sponsored by the Fort Erie gurdwara as they had disappeared after landing in Canada. The National Post reported that at least one out of the three Indians is now working as a truck driver in Canada.

Bains is also facing allegations by Canadian civil society groups to lobby for telecom groups while serving as a minister. He is facing allegations of favouring the telecom companies to hike internet prices.

Locals argue that Bains had floated a gurdwara on papers to bring in immigrants illegally under the cover of religious activities, in turn of huge profits. The gurdwara is controlled by Bains through his father Balwinder Bains and is seemingly a money-making machine for the family. Directors of the Fort Erie gurdwara are believed to be associates of his father.

On investigating the Fort Erie gurdwara after the expose and making a site visit, National Post reported - “What actually exists at its address in Fort Erie is something else: A long-abandoned motel surrounded by scrub land overgrown with weeds, and fronted by a no-trespassing sign.”

The Liberal leader has also been using other institutional structures of the Sikh community to his advantage. Father of Bains, who enjoys a stronghold over the administration of gurdwaras, had also appointed the group of men controlling the Fort Erie gurdwara to the board of a prominent Mississauga gurdwara - a constituency represented by Bains. 

The Bains family has been allegedly making massive amounts of money through corruption in Sikh institutions in Canada. Bains is also undergoing opposition from religious leaders of the Sikh community in Canada for not sparing even the Gurdwaras to make profits.

Bains, who has been groomed by the pro-Khalistani radical outfit World Sikh Organisation (WSO), is believed to be radicalising the Sikh community and making efforts to divide it. Father of Bains is a prominent leader of the WSO and is also associated with the Dixie gurdwara — an epicenter of anti-India activities.

In fact, the administration of Dixie and Brampton gurdwaras are controlled to a great extent by the Bains family. Many individuals close to Navdeep Bains’ father served on the boards of gurdwaras across Ontario. One of the directors of the Fort Erie gurdwara as Bachittar Saini is a real estate businessman and is based in Brampton and reportedly serves on the board of Brampton based gurdwaras as well. It is pertinent to note that both the regions, Dixie and Brampton-Mississauga, are the hotspots of Khalistani extremists.

Many sources highlight that Bains and his father run an immigration nexus consisting of IELTS coaching centres in India and colleges and gurdwaras in Canada. These institutions, most of which only exist on paper, are used to bring in illegal immigrants in the name of pursuing courses or for religious activities. Looking at his involvement in organised nexus of illegal immigration, it is easy to understand why Navdeep Bains has been making strong statements in support of immigration to Canada.

However, Bains also has direct connections to terrorists as his father-in-law Darshan Singh Saini was listed by the RCMP as a witness for investigating the 1985 Air India bombing case. In fact, during a debate on anti-terrorism legislation in the House of Commons in February 2007, the then Canadian PM Harper highlighted the connection of Bains’ father-in-law with the Air India bombing in which 329 people were killed including Canadian, British, and Indian citizens..

The then PM Harper had commented argued that the opposition of the anti-terrorism legislation by Bains was a tactic to protect his father-in-law from appearing in before the RCMP as the Conservatives argued about using the law to use it for investigating the Air India 1985 bombing case. Earlier, the Vancouver Sun had reported that Bains’ father-in-law was on the list of potential witnesses that the RCMP wanted to compel to testify before it.

Even as a legislator, Bains has been halting anti-corruption moves in the Canadian Parliament. He also voted a ‘Nay’ to a motion filed by the opposition on constituting a special committee on anti-corruption. He opposed the motion titled ‘Opposition Motion (Special committee on anti-corruption)’ and voted against it in October 2020.

A couple of advocacy campaigns were recently launched in Canada to oppose the price hike of internet services and Bains giving a green signal to it. An open letter to Navdeep Bains against the move was also circulated in the media. In one of the examples, advocacy media group Open Media commented - “Minister Bains has just given a green light for Internet prices to go up — and at the worst possible time: during a global pandemic and economic crisis that is already driving some Canadians to give up food to pay for their Internet. But Minister Bains represents all of us, not just corporate lobbyists. We need to be loud, and remind him his job is to ensure people have affordable Internet — NOT to protect the Big Telecom’s bottom line.”  

Bains was once again criticised for siding with the big telecom companies on their appeal to the lowered wholesale rates. Navdeep Bains, who could now be seen as making tough statements against the Huawei 5G in the past few months, has been giving green signals to multiple Chinese companies with a dark track record and connections to the CCP - all without a proper national security review.

Furthermore, the Canadian leader has also been allegedly involved in corruption in the procurement of public goods. His name emerged in the scam while procuring ventilators in a deal worth $200 million. Bains is facing charges of providing the tender to a company that did not have a manufacturing facility at all.

Back in 2017, Bains allowed the takeover of Retirement Concepts (Canadain retirement chain) by a subsidiary of China's Anbang Insurance Group. Later, Anbang’s subsidiary was also allowed to own the senior homes in Canada. Interestingly, the CCP government owns a 98 percent stake in Anbang. Navdeep Bains also allowed for the takeover of InnVest Hotels, owned by a shell company linked to Anbang. It is imperative to note that the chairman of Anbang, Wu Xiaohui has been ‘disappeared’ by the CCP government now, which might be a part of Chinese operations to influence businesses across the world.

Bains is also believed to be providing back support before allowing Chinese telecom giant Hytera to enter Canada without a proper national security review as well. Though Bains has resigned, he is nurturing a new breed of loyalists and associated in Mississauga - the region which he represents. Locals argue that Bains is working on a rapid mission to ensure that he keeps controlling the region indirectly through his people and is resorting to illicit ways of promoting them. 

The Ontario Liberal Party is investigating the case of alleged colossal voter fraud in the Mississauga—Malton nomination contest as Aman Gill — a Liberal cadre who worked for Bains and enjoys a close relationship with him is facing charges of resorting to “irregularities”, which are “criminal in nature” to win an internal party election.

The involvement of Bains in all-around corruption can be understood by the fact that Bains is also facing allegations over passing tip-offs to the companies on journalists investigating alleged corruption scams. An investigative article published in The Globe exposed that officials in the office of Minister Bains had alerted a company - Irving Shipbuilding that the media platform enquired about a new industrial policy involving a major deal bagged by the Irving Shipbuilding company.

Transparency and anti-corruption activists have highlighted that the Liberal government allowed the company to claim a credit benefit of $40-million for the Alberta fry factory as part of a contract on providing the Royal Canadian Navy with new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships. Besides promoting innovation and research, the industrial benefits policy also provided indirect ways for non-related monetary benefits for companies.

The Globe confirmed that the office of Navdeep Bains leaked the news to Irving Shipbuilding that two media houses, The Globe and Mail, were asking questions to the Ministry on the policy. Consequently, the company deployed its lawyers to threaten both the media houses of taking legal action.

These revelations highlight that besides being a plutocratic corrupt leader, Navdeep Bains is also a patron of undemocratic practices and a proponent of Chinese influence in Canada, making it increasingly tougher for the Liberal Party to defend him every day. Hence, it is believed that similar to other Liberal leaders who resigned on personal or health grounds after facing charges of corruption, Bains has also been asked by the Party leadership to resign to project a cleaner image of the Party.

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