While the parliamentary ridings, as constituencies in Canada are called, of Brampton East and Surrey-Newton may be over 4,000 kilometres apart, one thing unites them in the context of the upcoming Federal Parliamentary elections in the country – all the candidates of the three major national parties in the two seats are of Indian origin.
In Brampton East in the province of Ontario, Ahmedabad–born and–bred Naval Bajaj, an entrepreneur and former president of the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce, is making his political debut as the candidate of the ruling Conservative Party, as he opposes lawyer Raj Grewal of the Liberal Party and business strategist Harbaljit Kahlon of the New Democratic Party or NDP.
Bajaj said he divides his life into three phases – “learning, earning and returning”. As he enters the third, he said he’s making his debut in electoral politics because of “the need to represent small businesses and the manufacturing sector. A strong voice is required.”
As someone who started immigrant life in Canada working in a convenience store chain in various capacities, from “lifting boxes to sweeping floors and behind the sales counter”, he wants to translate his success into opportunities for new immigrants, including those from India.
Over half the population of his riding comprises Indo-Canadians, and that of incumbent NDP MP Jinny Sims in Surrey-Newton in the western province of British Columbia, is in that league. Sims was born in a village close to Jalandhar and grew up in England before immigrating to Canada four decades back. In her second electoral contest, she faces off against professional engineer and former MP Sukh Dhaliwal of the Liberals and Conservative Harpreet Singh.