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Indo-Canadians MPs?

The 2004 polls saw seven persons of Indian origin or NRIs who made it to the 308-member House of Commons, writes Gurmukh Singh

india Updated: Dec 19, 2005 20:15 IST
Gurmukh Singh
Gurmukh Singh

What surprises will the upcoming federal election throw up as far as the Indo-

Canadian community is concerned, is anybody's guess.

In the last polls in 2004, as many as seven persons of Indian origin or NRIs had made it to the 308-member House of Commons. That was the largest number of MPs from any coloured ethnic group in this multicultural society.

In fact, the Indo-Canadians had made a record of sorts in 2004 by sending two youngest members to Parliament and the country's first MP couple.

The two youngest MPs represented ridings in the province of Ontario and both won on the ruling Liberal party ticket. Twenty seven-year-old Navdeep Bains romped home in the riding of Mississauga-Brampton South while Ruby Dhalla won in Brampton-Springdale. Both these ridings have a huge presence of visible minorities.

In fact, Mississauga is one of the few ridings in this country to have more coloured voters than white voters.

Not only were Mr Bains and Ms Dhalla youngest of the lot but they were also the most qualified among the contestants. While Bains, who is the second turbaned MP in Canada after Gurbax Malhi, is a qualified MBA and CA, Ms Dhalla is chiropractic with deep involvement in social issues.

Will these two under-30 Indo-Canadians be able to make it to the august house again?

Interestingly, it is from Ontario province that Gurbax Malhi had become the first Indo-Canadian to be elected as an MP in 1993.

Malhi has won ever since and become a permanent feature of the House where he has established quite a few traditions such as the celebration of Vaisakhi. And this man played a key role in the celebrations of the tercentenary of the Khalsa in the Parliament in 1999.

Again, will this turbaned MP be again in the House of Commons?

If Ontario sent three Indo-Canadians to the House in 2004, British Columbia too sent in three MPs. These included Ujjal Dosanjh who was pulled out of his 'retirement' by Prime Minister Paul Martin to have a few heavyweights from western Canada in his cabinet team.

Apart from Ujjal Dosanjh, there were the Grewal team of Gurmant and Nina. The duo was the husband-wife team in Canadian parliament history to enter the House. This time around, Gurmant Grewal, who was in the thick of a few controversies, including the tape scandal, has pulled out of the fray to spare his party bosses any blushes during the campaigning. This is another matter that he has been cleared by a probe of wrongdoing.

Like others, Grewal also created a few records of his own. He became an MP within six years after landing in Canada in 1991. Like, Navdeep Bains, Ludhiana-born Grewal is an MBA.

Of course, every NRI knows Ujjal Dosanjh, who was Health Minister in the outgoing Cabinet. He made history in 2000 by becoming the first coloured premier in Canada.

Will Ujjal sail through once again? Will the tape controversy - in which he was taped by Gurmant Grewal while allegedly trying to lure the husband-wife MP team to the ruling party before the crucial no-confidence motion - have any impact on his electoral fortunes?

And then there is the lone Indo-Canadian from Alberta -- Deepak Obhrai -- who has won thrice in Calgary East. Obhrai, who too has had his share of controversies, is on a little safer turf because his province sent one-third of the Conservative MPs to the House last time.

To know how many Indo-Canadian faces will be there in the next House, one has to wait till the last week of January.

First Published: Dec 19, 2005 00:00 IST