Canadian parliament may see more Indian-origin MPs

With main three national parties putting up 23 Indo-Canadian candidates for the May 2 general election, the Canadian parliament may see more MPs of Indian-origin this time.

In the outgoing 308-member House of Commons, there were nine MPs of Indian origin – four from the ruling Conservative Party and five from the opposition Liberal Party.

The ruling Conservative party has fielded eight, the main opposition Liberal Party 10 and the New Democratic Party (NDP) five Indo-Canadian candidates in this election.

While all the sitting MPs – Ujjal Dosanjh, Ruby Dhalla, Navdeep Bains, Gurbax Malhi, Sukh Dhaliwal, Nina Grewal, Deepak Obhrai, Devinder Shory and Tim Oppal – have been re-nominated by their parties, there are many new faces in the fray this time.

Though most of the siting Indo-Canadian MPs are expected to be back in the House of Commons, veteran Ujjal Dosanjh and Ruby Dhalla of the opposition Liberal Party face tough battle this time.

In the 2008 elections, Dosanjh had managed to win in the Vancouver South constituency by just 20 votes. Dhalla, who is one of the first Sikh MPs in Canada, too had retained her seat by about 700 votes.

The ruling Conservative Party, which has failed to achieve a simple majority in the last three elections, is trying very hard to unseat both Dosanjh and Dhalla.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and immigration minister Jason Kenney have visited Dhalla’s constituency of Brampton-Springdale on the outskirts of Toronto in support of their candidate Parm Gill.

“It will be very difficult for Dhalla to retain her seat this time because her opponent has interacted intensely with the people in this riding (constituency) since the last election,” says a Brampton transport, requesting anonymity.

From the ruling Conservative Party, all its four sitting Indo-Canadian MPs – Deepak Oberoi, Devinder Shory, Tim Oppal and Neena Grewal – are sure to retain their seats.

From the opposition Liberal Party, Gurbax Malhi is set to return to the House of Commons for a record sixth time. Malhi became the first turbaned Sikh MP in Canada when he was elected first in 1993. By Gurmukh Singh