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Indo-Canadian businessman in fray

Rakesh Khosla, running for public office from Nova Scotia in polls, feels India's partition has lessons for Canada.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 11:55 IST

An Indo-Canadian businessman who feels India's partition has lessons for Canada is running for public office from Nova Scotia in next week's national election.

Rakesh Khosla breaks the mould in more ways than one. Born in Hoshiarpur district in 1952, Khosla came to this country 30 years ago following his wife Veena and her brother, both of whom are doctors.

"I have lots of friends here and have been involved with the political process," Khosla said. He estimates there are some 2,000 Indo-Canadians in Nova Scotia, a province with a population of around one million.

Khosla sells health and life insurance and is part owner of Khosla Seafoods that deals in lobsters and salt-cod fish.

As he came to know local politicians who canvassed his wife who could vote before he could, Khosla built his connections, began volunteering for political work and got involved in 1988 because he says he could see the "Free Quebec" movement getting strong and felt his experience with the partition of India gave him insight into problems Canada could face in the future.

"Coming from India with all its history of partition, I knew the effects and felt that the uncertainty of Quebec had to be settled," Khosla said.

Starting in 1992, he undertook several walks from one point to another to signify the need to unite Canada "to tell Canadians to keep unity and treat all provinces equally and give respect to Quebec".

He sought the then Progressive Conservative Party's nomination but failed. Last year, he went to help with the tsunami victims in India and returned even more committed to contribute to Canadian politics. In April last year, he again sought the nomination of the rejuvenated Conservative Party and got the support.

"We are in the middle of a good campaign," he said referring to the Canadian polls, which will take place on January 23. "My concerns are youth at risk, crime, senior citizens, post-secondary education, immigrant credentials," he said.

His constituency was Conservative until 1993 when the Liberals took over, and after them the New Democratic Party, returning again to the Liberals in 2000. He hopes to take it back.

Khosla has been a member of the Reference Support Group to the provincial nominees for Visible Minorities (as non-White groups in Canada are sometimes referred to) to the Labour Force Development Board of Halifax.

He was also on the Local Board of Administration for the Grace Wesleyan Church and a board member of the Crisis Pregnancy Centre in Halifax. In 1998-99 he was president of the Metro Halifax chapter of the National Association of Canadians of Origins in India.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 11:55 IST