Canada polls: ‘Parties must reject vote-based divisive politics’

Updated on Sep 06, 2021 11:22 AM IST

The Indo-Canadian alliance comprising 30 organisations has sent representations to the ruling Liberal Party, the opposition Conservative Party and leaders of the New Democratic Party, Greens and Bloc Quebecois.

Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole speaks to supporters during an election campaign visit to North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (REUTERS)
Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole speaks to supporters during an election campaign visit to North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (REUTERS)
ByAnirudh Bhattacharyya I Edited by Amit Chanda

Major Indo-Canadian groups are becoming increasingly active as the 2021 Federal elections approach, in an effort to place their interests on the agenda of the main national political parties and their leaders.

The umbrella National Alliance of Indo-Canadians (NAIC), which includes 30 organisations, has sent representations to the leaders of the principal parties, including Justin Trudeau, leader of the ruling Liberal Party and Erin O’Toole, leader of the opposition Conservative Party. The letters were also sent to the leaders of the New Democratic Party (NDP), Greens and Bloc Quebecois.

The letter states that support for the objectives outlined “would garner support from the incredible Indo-Canadian community”. Among these are to representing the “viewpoint of the politically marginalised Indo-Canadian community in the parliament” and “rejection of vote-based divisive politics, based on ethnicity, religion, race, gender etc”.

It also asks for “policy and programmes that integrate and enhance understanding of the Indo-Canadian heritage, including art, music and culture, in the mainstream Canadian society” as well as “better and enhanced Canada-India relations”.

These letters are also being distributed to individual candidates as they seek votes from the community. This initiative, a first in Canadian elections by Indo-Canadians, is aimed at countering the increasing influence of pro-Khalistan elements in the country as well as divisions that have emerged between different groups within the community over issues like the ongoing protests in India against three farm laws.

Concerns over such friction also led a group of Indo-Canadians to protest outside the offices of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh in the town of Burnaby in British Columbia. Singh represents the riding (as constituencies are called in Canada) of Burnaby South in the House of Commons and the protests started at his official MP’s office before those gathered marched to his campaign headquarters. About 70 people participated in the protest and among them was Sushil Nagar, a resident of Burnaby and, in fact, a constituent of Singh’s riding.

Nagar said their objective was to highlight the growing divisions between the Hindu and Sikh communities in Canada over the farm laws and, as the leader of a major Federal party, they wanted Singh to address the matter as elections approach and issue a statement calling for “amity” within the larger community.

He said they had held similar events since February this year but Singh had kept “ignoring” their pleas. “We feel like we’re a significant minority in Canada, and in Burnaby. We want a message from him that Hindus and Sikhs should not be divided because of the farmers’ protests,” Nagar said.

These developments come as the World Sikh Organisation (WSO) has also issued an election guide for Canadian Sikhs. Among the issues it has raised are an expedited process for immigration of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to Canada. It also condemned as “misguided” the inclusion of Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism in the 2018 Public Safety Canada Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada was extremely misguided and called for suspending the Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism between Canada and India.

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