Kingmakers? Here Are the NRIs To Watch for in Canada Polls 2021
As Canada gears up for polls on 20 September, we look at the NRI candidates in the fray.
Indians reportedly form only 4 percent of Canada's population, yet the Indo-Canadians have been widely recognised as a strong force in the economic, and now political, developments in the North American country. With 47 candidates from the Punjabi community in the fray, including popular NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Canada is all set for its federal elections on 20 September. The number has been a constant since the last election in 2019.
Currently, among the 338 members in the House of Commons, 22 are of Indian origin, including three cabinet members, The Times of India reported. "In the last House," 18 MPs were from the Sikh community.
All of the five major political parties have Indo-Canadians contesting, with the maximum from the PM Justin Trudeau-led Liberal Party – 17. Following the lead is the Conservative Party with 13, and the New Democratic Party with 10 candidates. The People's Party of Canada and Green Party have fielded five and one candidates respectively for this year's election.
Among those seeking re-election are Trudeu's 'minister of vaccines' Anita Anand from Oakville, and the current Youth and Inclusion minister Bardish Chagger from Waterloo. Both of them are contesting for seats in Ontario, whereas the current Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is betting on the seat in Vancouver South, which has a significant Indo-Canadian population. Sajjan has been a sitting MP since 2015.
Meanwhile, Jagmeet Singh, the first Indo-Canadian to lead the New Democratic Party is expected to play an important role in the elections, possibly that of a kingmaker. He has led the party since 2017 and represents Burnaby South since 2019. The party won 24 seats under Singh in the last elections.
The Liberals have fielded candidates of Punjabi origin from Brampton and Surrey. A liberal candidate, Raj Saini, withdrew his candidature last week after allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards staffers surfaced, The Tribune reported, adding "The Liberals have fielded Ruby Sahota (Brampton North), Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South), Kamal Khera (Brampton West), Anju Dhillon (Dorval-Lachine-LaSalle), Randeep S Sarai (Surrey Centre), Maninder Sidhu (Brampton East) and Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey Newton) for reelection. The other candidates fielded by the Liberals are Lakhwinder Jhaj, Parm Bains and Sabrina Grover."
Sukhbir Singh Gill of the Conservative Party will contest from Vancouver South. The Conservatives, too, have fielded Indian-origin candidates from the districts in Brampton. Naval Bajaj, the youngest elected President to the Indo-Canada chamber of Commerce, is another candidate from the Erin O'Toole-led party. He is an Indian-born entrepreneur and will contest from Brampton East. Medha Joshi, another candidate from Brampton, came to Canada in her early youth.
New Democratic Party
The NDP candidates are set to fight the Liberals in Brampton (South and West) and in Surrey Newton. The candidates fielded by the party include Tejinder Singh form Brampton South, Gurprit Gill from Brampton West, Avneet Johal from Surrey Newton, and Gurinder Singh Gill from Calgary Skyview.
Other Parties & Independents
The recently formed People's Party of Canada, which supports the cap on immigration, has fielded five Indian-origin candidates. Meanwhile, the Green Party's Devyani Singh is also contesting elections from Vancouver and Parveen Hundal is fighting independently from Surrey Newton.
Canada's regions of Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Montreal have dense populations of Indo-Canadians. These places form a major segment for the fight for Head of Government and most parties have candidates belonging to the Indian ethnicities contesting these seats. A lot of electoral seats in Canada have an Indian vs Indian or Punjabi vs Punjabi fight for election. Watch this space to know how the elections pan out for the Indo-Canadians on 20 September!
(With inputs from The Times of India and The Tribune.)
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