Seven Indians become legislators in Canada’s British Columbia

May 13th, 2009 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Vancouver, May 13 (IANS) Seven Indian Canadians were elected to the 79-member assembly in Canada’s British Columbia province Wednesday. The outgoing assembly had the same number of Indian-origin legislators and most of them retained their seats.
Among those who were elected was Wally Oppal, provincial attorney-general and virtually number two in the cabinet.

A former British Columbia Supreme Court judge, Oppal plunged into politics in 2005 and got elected on the ruling Liberal Party ticket from the Vancouver-Fraserview constituency.

The highly respected Oppal, who was born here in the 1940s, this time contested from his home constituency of Delta-South to beat fellow Indian Canadian Dileep Athaide of the New Democratic Party (NDP). Oppal is set to retain his top slot in the new cabinet under Premier Gordon Campbell.

The constituency vacated by Oppal this time was captured by fellow Indian Canadian and super cop Kash (Kashmir) Heed on the ticket of the Liberal Party.

Heed, who quit his high-profile job as the chief of West Vancouver Police to plunge into politics, is tipped to become the next solicitor general of British Columbia.

The third high-profile Indian Canadian to win was former transportation minister Harry Lali who romped home in the Fraser-Nicola constituency. Two other prominent Indian Canadians who retained their seats were Raj Chouhan of the opposition NDP and Dave Hayer of the ruling Liberal Party.

Punjab-born Chouhan came to Vancouver in 1973 and became famous by organising farm workers. He is the founding president of the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union.

Dave Hayer is the son of the slain Punjabi editor Tara Singh Hayer, who founded the Indo-Canadian Times. Tara Singh was killed allegedly by Babbar Khalsa to stop him from testifying in the Air India Kanishka bombing that killed 329 people.

Former Indian basketball player and NDP candidate Jagrup Brar also got elected for the third time from the new constituency of Surrey-Fleetwood, beating Jagmohan Singh of the Liberal Party.

Seventy-one-year-old John Nuraney of the ruling party also returned as an MLA from Burnaby Deer-Lake as did Harry Bains of the opposition NDP from the Surrey-Newton constituency.

There were as many as 16 Indian-origin candidates in the fray for the 79-member assembly elections.

While the ruling Liberal Party had fielded seven, the opposition NDP put up nine Indian Canadian candidates.

Indian Canadians constitute more than five percent of the population of British Columbia of 4.4 million, and Punjabi is the third largest spoken language in the province.

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