Toronto, March 12, 2005
Globe and Mail
The Liberal Party of Canada is investigating a
$30,000 loan made by Brampton-area Liberal MP Gurbax
Malhi's riding association to a local Sikh temple,
a transaction that raises questions of wrongdoing.
Brian Nichols, who chairs the constitutional legal
affairs committee of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario),
said he will look into the transaction, which took
place in 2002.
As a general rule, a loan to an outside organization
by a riding association is not an action the party
would condone, Mr. Nichols said.
We will consult with all parties involved to
find out exactly what happened.
The constitution of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario)
does not expressly prohibit riding associations from
lending money, and this is the first complaint he
has received, he added.
Mr. Malhi's Brampton-Gore-Malton-Springdale riding
association lent a Sikh gurdwara in Mississauga $30,000,
and the temple repaid it on Feb. 21, 2002, according
to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail.
The transaction angered former members of the temple.
They have hired a lawyer to pursue legal action against
the gurdwara, run at the time by Gurmail Singh Saggu,
who was head of Mr. Malhi's riding association in
2002. They wondered why their donations to the temple
were used to pay back a loan rather than for temple
We have no knowledge about why this cheque
was written, but we know it was improper, said
Axi Leighl, a lawyer who represents former members
of the now-defunct gurdwara.
Mr. Malhi came under scrutiny this week after The
Globe reported that the RCMP looked into complaints
that he misused temporary resident permits for political
ends in 2003. Mr. Malhi has strongly denied the allegations
and says he never pressed the Indo-Canadian community
for donations and political support in exchange for
help securing ministerial permits for Indian nationals
to visit Canada. Complainants refused to co-operate
with the RCMP, who laid no charges. Police did not
interview Mr. Malhi.
In the House of Commons yesterday, British Columbia
Indo-Canadian Conservative MPs Nina and Gurmant Grewal
accused the federal Liberals of trading immigration
favours for electoral support, a charge Immigration
Minister Joe Volpe angrily dismissed.
If the member had a shred of decency about
him he would feel embarrassed about those kinds of
accusations, Mr. Volpe said of Mr. Grewal.
Mr. Volpe brushed aside calls for the government
to provide riding-by-riding breakdowns of temporary
residency permit issuance.
Mr. Malhi said he knew nothing about the financial
transaction involving his riding association, referring
all queries to Mr. Saggu. That $30,000, the
guy borrowed it from the riding association, the association
knew about that, Mr. Malhi said. He returned
it. He borrowed it for one month.
Mr. Saggu said he didn't discuss the transaction
with Mr. Malhi until after the money was returned.
As riding president [at the time], I used my
rights to lend the money. We had a problem closing
on the mortgage [at the gurdwara] because we were
experiencing monetary problems and the temple burnt
In 2001, a fire destroyed the Sikh temple, incorporated
as the Ramgarhia Association of Ontario. The fire,
which caused $50,000 in damage, gutted the small,
one-storey former residence and left a 72-year-old
man with severe burns. However, the Sri Guru Granth
Sahib, the Sikh holy book, was left intact and some
gurdwara members continued to meet until last year.
This was a bungalow with two illegally constructed
additions and both the building department and the
fire department had orders outstanding against the
property to correct violations of the building code
and fire code, said Kevin Duffy, assistant deputy
chief with the Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services.
The cause of the fire was undetermined.
The temple also lost its charitable status in 2000
for failing to file tax returns.
When it registered as a charity in 1992, its objectives
included maintaining a temple to promote the history,
heritage, religion and language of Sikhism, according
Small gurdwaras run out of residential buildings
are permitted to apply for tax-exempt charitable status
and issue receipts for donations but allegations
of wrongdoing have arisen about some of them in the
past. You want to earn money, start a gurdwara
in your basement, get tax credit . . . and they can
earn money [by asking for donations], a source
told The Globe.
Mr. Saggu denied anything improper was going on at
his gurdwara. He said it was working to get its charitable
status reinstated, but is now closed.
In 2004, Mr. Malhi received $68,500 from his riding
association for the election campaign, according to
the Elections Canada website.
The riding association has until May, 2005, to report
donations made the year before.