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South Asian faces in Canadian elections

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Member of Parliament Deepak Obhrai unveiled a stamp commemorating Diwali in Ottawa last month
The provincial election in Ontario threw up a lot of South Asian faces, old and new. With old hands like Harinder Takhar, Shafiq Qadri, Bas Balkisoon, Amrit Mangat and Vic Dhillon prevailing over their nearest rivals and newbie Dipika Damerla winning a seat, it could be said they saved the day for the Liberals. Jagmeet Singh defeated another desi, incumbent Dr Kuldip Kular, to win his riding for the NDP.

In the recent federal elections, while a few prominent South Asian heads rolled – notably Nav Bains, Ruby Dhalla and Yasmin Ratansi – others like Deepak Obhrai held their seats comfortably and Bal Gosal and Tim Uppal were sworn in as Canada’s Minister of State of Sports and Minister of State for Democratic Reform, respectively.

The list of those who threw their hats in the ring but didn’t win, of course, is long, and just goes to show how involved South Asians are in Canada’s political scene. Though Liberals were traditionally considered the party of choice of immigrants, the federal and provincial elections show that South Asians represented all parties with equal enthusiasm. In fact, there were several ridings across Toronto – Scarborough, Brampton and Missisauga, in particular – in which all three parties fielded South Asian candidates.

DiverseCity Counts: A Snapshot of Diverse Leadership in the GTA tracks over 3000 leaders across the corporate, public, elected, education and non-profit sectors. The 2011 report results show that year after year, elected officials are the third most diverse group of leaders. In fact, over the three-year timeframe, elected officials show the largest growth across sectors studied, from 16.1 per cent in 2009 to 19 per cent in 2001 – an 18 per cent increase.

Posted: Nov 2, 2011

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