Indians in Canadian politics

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Politics and PIOs

2014, 2019: number of Sikh MPs

Oct 23, 2019: The Times of India

Canadians voted to send 18 Sikhs to parliament this time, the same number as the 2014 polls. The 18 MPs were elected in the provinces of Ontario (10), British Columbia (4), Alberta (3) and Quebec

(1). Of these, 13 belong to the Liberal party, four are from the Conservative party and one from NDP. Sikhs form approximately 2% of the population both in Canada and India, but their representation in politics is unmatched — Canada has 18 MPs of Sikh heritage whereas India just has 13 Sikh MPs in the Lok Sabha.

Punjab, with 13 Lok Sabha seats, has 10 Sikh MPs, including Muhammad Sadique, a member of the Doom community, a Scheduled Caste. Guru Nanak Dev’s accompanying musician Bhai Mardaana, too, belonged to the Doom community.

Sadiq’s fluid religious identity — born in a non-practising Muslim family, he admitted in court in 2012 that he had started professing Sikhism from 2006 — has not faced any trouble in Punjab at all. His identity among people remains that of a Muslim, especially because of his name. The rest of the states all together have elected three Sikh MPs — BJP’s SS Ahluwalia and Maneka Gandhi, and Navneet Kaur Ravi Rana, an Independent.

2015: Liberal win in Canada

The Times of India, Oct 21 2015

Ikhhlaq Aujla

 Liberals sweep Canada polls with Punjabi help

A painful chapter in the history of Punjabi migration is the Komagata Maru episode when a shipload of Punjabis was stopped from landing in Canada in 1914 and sent back from Vancouver.Harsh immigration laws had ensured that only 24 of the 376 people on board disembarked.As the rest returned to the Calcutta port, the British fired at them, killing 19. A little over 100 years later, exactly 19 Canadians of In dian origin were elected to the Canadian parliament.

This is the highest ever representation of MPs with Indian roots in the House of Commons in Canada. As many as 17 are of Punjabi ori gin. In 2011, only eight Indianorigin MPs were elected to the House of Commons, all of whom were Punjabis.

The result was historic in more ways than one for Canada as the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals ended nearly 10 years of Conservative party rule. Fifteen or 8.15% of his 184 MPs are Punjabis. IndianCanadians make up over 3% of Canada's population of about 35 million.

The role of Punjabis is important as it helped the Liberals get past the 170-mark needed for a simple majority .

Among sitting MPs, Con servative Deepak Obhrai from Calgary Forest Lawn in Alberta was the only Punjabi-origin candidate to retain his seat.The losers included multiculturalism minister Tim Uppal, who lost to Amarjit Sohi of the Liberals by a mere 80 votes.

Sohi was arrested in 1988 in Bihar under TADA for alleged links with Naxals and released in 1990 on court orders. This victory is about in clusion, cohesiveness, where we build strong communities,“ Amarjit Sohi of the Liberals told a daily .“Canada is where someone like me can come from somewhere else, build a new life, raise my family and contribute back so immensely.“

“I have a strong record both as a representative of the constituency as well as working in government, and in the opposition, over the years I have been in Parliament,“ Deepak Obhrai, who won a seventh term, told the Calgary Sun. Compared to the 24 candidates of Punjabi-origin in the previous general elections in 2011, this time 43 were in the fray, including one independent. There were 11 constituencies where at least two of the candidates put up by the Liberals, Conservatives or NDP were of Punjabi origin.

In the 2011 polls, there wasn't a single Punjabi-origin candidate of the Liberal party who made it to parliament.From just 36 in 2011, Liberals have 184 MPs in a house of 338 this time.

2015: Four PIOs Inducted As Cabinet Ministers

Harjit Sajjan and Navdeep Bains

The Times of India, Nov 05 2015

Sikh named Canada defence minister

Harjit Sajjan among four PIOs inducted as Cabinet ministers by PM Justin Trudeau

The Punjabi community in Canada made history on Wednesday when two turbaned Sikhs, among four Indian Canadians, were sworn in as cabinet ministers, as Justin Trudeau took oath as the country's 23rd Prime Minister. While 42-year-old Harjit Sajjan was appointed defence minister, 38-year-old Navdeep Bains got the portfolio of innovation, science and economic development in the 30-member Cabinet.

Another Sikh, Amarjeet Sohi, who is not turbaned, has been sworn in as minister for infrastructure. A former bus driver, Sohi was jailed in 1988 for two years in Bihar and accused of being a terrorist. Sohi told the Edmonton Journal that he was beaten and tortured. He recounted that he was held without charges or trial for almost two years.

A young Sikh woman, Bar dish Jhagger, who is a firsttime MP , has been sworn in as minister for small business and tourism. Trudeau, 43, kicked off his slimmed-down Cabinet

Navdeep Bains, who played a key role in Trudeau's election as the Liberal Party leader in 2013, has been awarded with the important cabinet berth. Bains, who became MP for the third time last month by winning from MississaugaBrampton, previously served as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister in 2005 when he was MP from 2004 till 2011 when he lost. Considered very suave, Bains has been a distinguished visiting professor at Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto till now.

2019: Jagmeet Singh is kingmaker

I P Singh & Neel Kamal, TNN, Oct 23, 2019: The Times of India

A file photo of Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau;
Party positions, Oct 2019
From: I P Singh & Neel Kamal, TNN, Oct 23, 2019: The Times of India

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau clung on to office even though his Liberal party did not get a clear majority, paving the way for a minority government that would need outside support, likely from fourth-placed left-leaning New Democratic Party led by 40-year-old human rights lawyer Jagmeet Singh.

The Indian-origin politician was quick to make his stance clear on his role as “kingmaker” on Tuesday, saying: “I’m hoping that Mr Trudeau respects the fact that there’s a minority government now, which means we’ve got to work together.”

Trudeau’s Liberals fell short of the 170 seats needed for a majority in the 338-seat House of Commons in Canada, down 20 seats to 157 this time. However, they would be able to plug the gap with NDP support as the two parties have had alliances earlier too.

Singh’s NDP, too, lost ground, winning 24 this election; it had 44 seats in the outgoing parliament.

Jagmeet: Will make sure wealthy pay their fair share

Singh said his party’s elected officials will now head to Ottawa to tackle a number of issues, including taking “real and urgent action” on climate change, making life more affordable for Canadians and making sure the “super wealthy pay their fair share”. “Canadians want a government that works for them. Not the rich and the powerful,” Singh tweeted.

The results of the Canadian election reverberated across Punjab as Trudeau is very popular among the people, more so because he had four Sikh ministers in his outgoing cabinet. Of his four ministers, three — Harjit Singh Sajjan, Navdeep Bains and Jagdish Chaggar — retained their seats. Amarjit Singh Sohi, also a minister, lost the election but made way for another prominent Sikh politician, Tim Uppal of the Conservative party.

The left-leaning NDP’s lone Sikh MP is its leader, Jagmeet Singh. The residents of Thikriwal village in Barnala district, who were hoping to see Jagmeet as prime minister, have mixed feelings.

They were happy that Jagmeet won his election but were disappointed that his party lost considerable ground in the polls.

Punjabi candidates of ruling the Liberal party won all the five seats in Brampton, which has a sizeable Punjabi population. It is the first stop for a large number of Punjabi students who immigrate to Canada for studies.

4 PIOs in Trudeau’s cabinet

IP Singh, Nov 22, 2019: The Times of India

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau’s 37-member new cabinet, formed, includes four Indian-Canadians. While Trudeau has retained his earlier three Sikh ministers, he has also inducted first-time MP Anita Anand, making her the first Hindu woman lawmaker to be made a minister in Canada.

Harjit Singh Sajjan (49), the most prominent Sikh face of the Trudeau government and against whom Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh had railed during his last stint, continues to be defence minister.

Navdeep Singh Bains (42), who represents the Ontario riding (electoral district) of Mississauga-Malton, has been given charge of innovation and science and industry. Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger (39) has been given the inclusion and diversity and youth ministry.

In his previous government, Trudeau had four Sikh ministers, but Amarjit Sohi lost the election this time.

Anita Anand, who is in her early 50s, has been made minister of public services and procurement. Born to Indianorigin parents in Kentville, Nova Scotia, Anand has served as a law professor at the University of Toronto and specialises in corporate governance and shareholder rights. Anand takes on the role of minister of public services and procurement at a time when the government is finalising a multi-billion-dollar purchase of new fighter jets.

Trudeau has inducted nearly all his re-elected ministers from the last government to signal continuity. Half of the ministers in Trudeau’s government are women.

2020: 8 Indian-origin candidates win assembly polls

Neel Kamal, October 26, 2020: The Times of India

8 Indian-origin candidates win Canada assembly polls Eight Indian-origin candidates won elections of the British Columbia legislative assembly in Canada on Sunday, improving their tally from seven in the 2017 polls of the province. All eight winners, including three women, belong to New Democratic Party, which has secured an absolute majority with 55 seats in the 87-member House. There were 22 candidates of Punjab origin in the fray from 15 assembly segments — 11 from NDP, nine from Liberal Party of Canada and two from Vision Vancouver.

NDP’s Raj Chouhan won from Burnaby-Edmunds segment after defeating another Punjabi, Tript Atwal of Liberal Party. Olympian Ravi Kahlon of NDP retained his seat from Delta North. Belonging to a village in Bathinda, NDP’s Jagrup Singh retained his seat from Surrey-Fleetwood by defeating Punjab-origin candidate Garry Thind of Liberal Party. Party colleague, Jinny Sims retained her seat from Surrey-Panorama by defeating Gulzar Cheema of Liberal Party.

NDP’s Rachna Singh retained her seat from Surrey-Green Timbers by defeating Punjabi candidate Dilraj Atwal of Liberal Party. NDP’s Harry Bains also retained his seat from Surrey-Newton by defeating Punjabi Paul Boparai of Liberal Party. NDP’s Aman Singh defeated Jas Johal of Liberal party from Richmond-Queensborough. IANS reported that he became the first turbaned Sikh MLA in British Columbia. NDP’s Nikki Sharma won from Vancouver-Hastings.

2021: 2 PIOs join Ontario cabinet

June 20, 2021: The Times of India

Two more Indo-Canadian politicians have been appointed as ministers in a cabinet reshuffle in Canada’s Ontario province, taking the representation of the community members in the executive council to three. There was only one Indo-Canadian — Prabhmeet Sarkariya, who was the associate minister of small business and red tape reduction, in the previous cabinet. He has now been made the president of the treasury board. His old post will now be handled by Nina Tangri. Sarkariya’s parents immigrated from Punjab in the1980s. Parm Gill, who was born in Moga, Punjab, took on the portfolio of citizenship and multiculturalism. PTI

17 Indo-Canadians won parliamentary polls

Sep 22, 2021: The Times of India

Seventeen Indo-Canadians, including NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and defence minister Harjit Sajjan, won Canada’s parliamentary polls with PM Justin Trudeau returning to power in the snap polls.

All three Indo-Canadian ministers — Harjit Sajjan, Anita Anand and Bardish Chagger — in the dissolved cabinet emerged victorious as did 42-year-old New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh from Burnaby South.

NDP will again hold the balance of power as it increased its tally from 24 to 27. “I want to say Canadians know that you can count on NDP to continue fighting for you. As we’ve fought for you in the pandemic,” Jagmeet said on Monday. Sajjan was re-elected from Vancouver-South, with nearly 49% of the vote share, drawing even more votes than his last win in the area, CTV News reported. AGENCIES

Ranj Pillai\ 2023

January 11, 2023: The Times of India

Toronto : Indian-origin cabinet minister Ranj Pillai will on January 14 take oath as the tenth premier of Canada’s territory of Yukon, becoming the second politician of Indian heritage to head a region in the country, media reported. Pillai, whose roots can be traced from Kerala, was on January 8 unanimously chosen as the leader of Yukon Liberal Party, the party said on its website. Pillai was the only candidate in the running when nominations closed on January 7, Yukon News reported.

“I’m honoured and humbled to be acclaimed as the leader of Yukon Liberal Party. We have so much to be proud of and I’m excited for what the future of the Yukon holds,” Pillai tweeted.

The Yukon government’s executive council office said Pillai and his Cabinet will be sworn in on Saturday in a public ceremony. Pillai will become just the second premier in Canadian history of Indian heritage, following Ujjal Dosanjh who held that post in the province of British Columbia between 2000 and 2001. 

See also

Indians in Canada

Indians in Canadian politics

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