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Canada: Conservatives win Ontario election on populist plank

Seven candidates of Indian-origin emerged victorious, mainly in the Greater Toronto Area.

world Updated: Jun 08, 2018 20:53 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to the media following the tabling of the budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 27, 2018.
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to the media following the tabling of the budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, February 27, 2018.(REUTERS File Photo)

A record number of candidates of Indian origin were elected to the legislature of Ontario, Canada’s largest and most politically significant province, as the Liberal Party was ousted from power after 15 years and the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) easily gained a majority to form the next government.

Among the prominent Indo-Canadian winners was Gurratan Singh, younger brother of New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh. He won from the new riding or constituency of Brampton East, which comprises mostly the constituency that his elder brother had represented in the provincial parliament before he went on to national politics.

Jagmeet Singh joined Gurrattan as the brothers celebrated the victory.

Among the major losers was Liberal Party member of provincial parliament, Harinder Malhi. A minister in the outgoing government, she moved a private member’s motion in the legislature last year that described the 1984 anti-Sikh violence in India as “genocide” - an event which severely strained ties between India and Canada.

Malhi’s elevation as the province’s first minister of Sikh heritage came earlier this year but her tenure will remain short-lived.

Seven candidates of Indian-origin emerged victorious, mainly in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), particularly the suburbs of Brampton and Mississauga. Among them were Deepak Anand, Nina Tangri and Parm Gill of the winning PC slate.

In addition, it was a historic night for Canada’s Tibetans as Bhutila Karpoche became the first person from the community to be elected to public office anywhere in North America.

Ontario’s next premier (equivalent of chief minister) will be Doug Ford, who led the Progressive Conservative Party to power. He is the brother of the controversial former mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, who was caught up in a drug abuse scandal. Rob Ford died in 2016 after suffering from cancer.

Part of the credit for PC’s triumph will go to its Indo-Canadian president Jag Badwal, who had to steer it through a stormy period after former party leader Patrick Brown resigned earlier this year following multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him.

Badwal was in-charge of the subsequent leadership race that led to Doug Ford’s elevation as the party’s face for the Ontario polls, and its eventual success on Thursday night.

Ontario’s elections were also closely watched in Ottawa. With the Liberal Party being virtually wiped out in the province, which sends the maximum number of MPs to the House of Commons, the stunning results will cause plenty of concern for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.