Indo-Canadians make presence felt in Canada’s new parliament

As many as 23 Indo-Canadians were elected to Canada’s House of Commons in this year’s general elections. Of these, 19 are Punjabis.

In 2015, 19 Indo-Canadians got elected, including 18 Punjabis.

Among the winners this year is Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who won from Vancouver South by a narrow margin.

Two other Indo-Canadians ministers — Navdeep Bains and Bardish Chagger — won from Mississauga-Malton and Waterloo, respectively, which are in Ontario province.

Ontario has sent as many as 12 Indo-Canadian leaders to the Parliament, followed by British Columbia (BC) with four, Alberta three and Quebec one. The lone non-Punjabi to get elected from Ontario province is Liberal Chanderkanth Arya of Karnataka, from Napean.

New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh, who won from Burnaby South in British Columbia, is being touted as the kingmaker as his party won 24 seats, though the number is 20 less than the earlier election.

Indo-Canadian minister Amarjeet Sohi failed to win in Edmonton-Mill Woods, Alberta. He was defeated by Conservative Tim Uppal, who was a minister of state in the government of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

As many as 14 of the 18 Punjabi candidates fielded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party registered wins, mostly in the suburbs around Toronto and Vancouver. This time, a record half-a-dozen turbaned Sikhs will sit in the House.

Those who won from the Liberal party are Hoshiarpur’s Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South), Ludhiana’s Bardish Chagger (Waterloo) and Navdeep Bains (Mississauga Malton) — all three are ministers.

The others from the party who won are Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey Newton), Gagan Sikand (Mississauga Streetsville), Rameshwar Sangha (Brampton Centre), Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre), Maninder Sidhu (Brampton East), Kamal Khera (Brampton East), Ruby Sahota (Brampton North), Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South), Anju Dhillon (Lachine Lassalle) and Raj Saini (Kitchener Centre) and Anita Anand (Oakville).

Of the 19 Punjabi candidates fielded by the Conservatives, only four won. They are former MP Tim Uppal (Edmonton Mill Woods), third-timer Bob Saroya (Markham Unionville), first-timer Jasraj Hallan (Calgary Forest Lawn) and Jagdeep Sahota (Calgary Skyview).

Uppal is the brother-in-law of Congress MLA from Jalandhar Cantt, Pargat Singh.

Liberal Anita Anand is a first time MP.

In the 2015 elections, the 1.25 million-strong Indo-Canadian community doubled its representation in the Parliament with the election of 19 MPs.

Indo-Canadians comprise 3 per cent of the population of Canada.

In 2011, almost all the Indo-Canadian MPs were Conservatives, but the trend changed in 2015. The victory of Justin Trudeau in 2015 catapulted 15 Indo-Canadian Liberals to the Parliament in Ottawa.