Ottawa - December 9, 1999 - Surrey Central MP Gurmant Grewal was the only MP in the House of Commons that voted on all 471 amendments to the Nisga’a Bill during the 42 hour voting marathon. Grewal said, "I never missed a vote and I never fell asleep. On Wednesday, my colleagues were calling me ‘Marathon Man’. By Thursday they were calling me ‘Iron Man’".
After continuous voting from Tuesday night until Thursday at noon, Gurmant received a round of applause from his colleagues including Official Opposition Leader Preston Manning, and the Reform Party Caucus Officers when he rose to vote on the final amendment. MPs from other parties and Parliamentary staff joined in the applause outside the House in the scrum area when Grewal was leaving the Chamber.
"I set a historical voting record in the House with my 42 hours of continuous voting and number of votes cast. I feel strongly that the Liberals have made a mockery of our democracy. Marking an ‘X’ on a ballot every four years is not all there is to ‘democracy’. It is more than that. It is voicing public opinion in our legislative process. Both the BC NDP government and the Liberal government in Ottawa tried to ‘shut up’ public input on the Nisga’a Treaty", Grewal says.
"There are two aspects to the unaccountable and undemocratic nature of the Nisga’a Treaty. We have a faulty treaty and a faulty treaty process. The Treaty has been negotiated behind closed doors and it is not based on consultation and need rather, it is based on compromise and race. Secondly, the provincial and federal governments used time allocation in order to limit debate. The Liberals only allowed witnesses who support the Nisga’a Treaty to appear before the committee hearings that Reform forced to be held in BC. One Liberal MP on the committee called it a ‘dog and pony show’. The people of BC have been denied a referendum. The 471 amendments provided the government an opportunity to improve the Treaty, as well as a tool for the Official Opposition to protest. The last tool left to me was my voting right, so I excersised it to its fullest extent", he continued.
"I am proud to be a member of our caucus team. Our concerted efforts have caused the political pundits and editors to call us the most effective Official Opposition in Canadian Parliamentary history. In the last 42 hours we have used our strength to stand up for democracy", Grewal concluded