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New cabinet without Indo-canadians

The new conservative Cabinet sworn in by PM Harper has no Indo-Canadians.

india Updated: Feb 07, 2006 11:52 IST

There is no Indo-Canadian in the new Conservative cabinet announced by newly sworn in Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Rahim Jaffer and Deepak Obhrai, two Conservatives who were re-elected from Calgary, the same province as the prime minister, got no positions in the new cabinet, though over the years they have occasionally held positions as opposition critics on various issues.

Harper, whose 26-member cabinet was sworn in along with him Monday morning, claimed to be diverse. But some criticism is already surfacing about the fact that he has too few women and there are virtually no minorities in it.

A token Asian Canadian, Michael Chong, was appointed intergovernmental affairs minister. Chong, 34, was the former information officer for NHL Players' Association and senior technology consultant with Greater Toronto Airports Authority. However, he is a relative newcomer to politics compared to Jaffer and Obhrai. Being from Ontario, where the Conservative Party fared badly, it may be Harper's way of placating voters.

The situation is somewhat of a dig at Indo-Canadians, who have traditionally favoured Liberals. Though many of this community had begun to express their dissatisfaction with the scandals that had overtaken the Liberal government led by Paul Martin, these doubts did not convert into votes for the Conservatives.

The minority government of Harper has its work cut out with having to rally opposition members to support its programmes that plan to bring transparency in government, cut taxes and reduce waiting time for people seeking health services, which critics claim is a veiled attempt at privatising some aspects of the largely socialised health services.