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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Canadian province minister exhibits Punjabi 'connect'

Neha Arora, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, December 05, 2012
First Published: 19:18 IST(5/12/2012) | Last Updated: 19:19 IST(5/12/2012)

In view of the general elections in May in British Columbia province, Canada, and considering the sway Punjabis exercise in the foreign land, the province's finance minister Michael De Jong is in Punjab to exhibit his Punjabi 'connect'.

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Analysts say that this is the 'hidden agenda' as he tours the state in the garb of creating awareness on diabetes.

Punjabis dominate the politics of British Columbia, as evident from the fact that a Punjabi-origin Canadian Ujjwal Singh Dosanjh has been the premier of the Canadian province. Punjabi elected MLAs have also held ministerial portfolios in the Canadian province.

Though, Jong denied that the 'diabetes awareness trip' had anything to do with politics.

However, the fact he has chosen to arrange a nearly two-week tour in the state as part of his itinerary is signal enough of the 'political motives' behind the extensive trip.

Interestingly, Jong, who could have been treated as a 'state guest', if he would have informed the state government, has preferred to tag his visit as non-official.

He has claimed that the purported reason behind the visit was humanitarian, as every 4th Punjabi in British Columbia is suffering from diabetes.

Admitting that Punjabis had been playing a major role in the economic development of British Colombia, Jong said that the Canadians had gradually lost interest in politics.

"Canadians are losing participation in politics as compared to Punjabis. We appreciate that Punjabis are involving themselves in politics," he said adding that of the total 40 lakh population in British Columbia, 3 lakh are Punjabis.

Meanwhile, Michael urged people to exercise daily and change their lifestyle to prevent diabetes. Dr Gulzar Singh Cheema, former health minister, British Columbia accompanying him said, "Every fourth Punjabi family in British Columbia has a patient of diabetes. There is a need to take preventive measures."

Patty Sahota, former tourism minister, British Columbia and eight other team members, accompanied Jong. The team is here for two-week walk on healthy lifestyle.

MLA Pargat Singh, civil surgeon Dr RL Bassan, and district health officer Dr Ashwani Sondhi, were also present.

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