Indo-Canadians back in Parliament | india | Hindustan Times
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Indo-Canadians back in Parliament

Most Indo-Canadian politicians returned to Parliament with the election of the Conservative Party.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2006 11:36 IST

Most of the stalwart Indo-Canadian politicians found their way back to parliament when nearly 65 percent of Canadian voters went to the polls to bring in yet another minority government, this time led by the Conservative Party of Stephen Harper.

Former Prime Minister Paul Martin and the Liberal Party's general downward slide in the poll seem not to have pulled down local Indo-Canadian politicians, reinforcing the dictum: all politics is local.

Of the 48 candidates of South Asian origin who contested, nine were elected. Some of the important ones among them will be seen in the Conservative ruling benches this time round and yet others will move to the opposite side.

The South Asian contingent within Harper's own set of MPs drew good support in his home state of Alberta, and they are chomping at the bit to come into power and put through issues they have been fighting for - immigration reform, foreign credentials recognition and healthcare.

However, all these issues have also been on the forefront of the agenda of Liberal Indo-Canadian candidates like Ruby Dhalla, the young chiropractor from the Brampton-Springdale district, who was handily re-elected and hopes to be a vocal member of the Opposition.

"Whichever side you are on, it is an honour to be in parliament," she said during her rounds of the polling booths election night Jan 23.

"I will continue to pursue the priorities of my constituents which includes foreign credential recognition and healthcare for all," she asserted.

Former health minister Ujjal Dosanjh won from his Vancouver South riding in British Columbia, while Conservative Nena Grewal came back and will move over from the opposition benches to secure a seat with the winners' side of the aisle in Ottawa.

The only Indo-Canadian in Martin's cabinet, Dosanjh will now cool his heels in the opposition benches, but considering his political past, he will be a vocal critic.

Another Martin-favourite, Gurbax Malhi, got re-elected from his Bramalea-Gore-Malton district, but he will be in opposition. Considered a studied and diligent legislator, Malhi is likely to continue as an Opposition Critic, considering his years of experience.

Meanwhile, Deepak Obhrai of Calgary East, and the younger firebrand Rahim Jaffer, both Conservatives from Alberta, a province rich in oil and straining to flex its muscles in Ottawa, are moving from the opposition benches and there is a possibility that Harper will reward them with some important positions as he tried to project the inclusiveness of his party.

Nina Grewal, a Conservative from Fleetwood-Port Kells of British Columbia, returned to her seat and will be in the more powerful party this time.

Her husband Gurmant Grewal, who had been elected the last time two years ago, stepped down from his race because of a scandal some months ago.

Neophytes like Rakesh Khosla, an insurance agent who ran as a Conservative from Nova Scotia, lost but made a good showing getting more than 10,000 votes.

But another Conservative, Raminder Gill from the greater Toronto area, is the only incumbent to lose his seat among South Asian candidates.

Parmjit Gill, Liberal from Winnipeg North, Manitoba, lost but came in second to the winner, a New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate.

In the 308-member House, the Conservative Party won 124 seats, the Liberals, after a 12-year-rule, went down to 103, the separatist Bloc Quebecois of Quebec province got a hefty 51 seats and the party that made strides was the left of centre NDP of Jack Layton that won 29 seats, now in a more powerful position to moderate any arch-Conservative moves from the winners.

Harper, a young and for some Canadians, an infusion of new blood into what they saw was an Old Guard ridden with financial scandals and back-room deals, hopes to string a coalition of unlikely partners.