30 Indian-origin candidates in Canadian poll fray

September 26th, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Sep 26 (IANS) With about 30 Indian Canadian candidates in the fray for the Oct 14 Canadian general election, the nation’s parliament may have more MPs of Indian origin this time.In the outgoing 308-member House of Commons, there were eight MPs of Indian origin - three from the ruling Conservative Party and five from the Liberal Party.

For this election, the ruling party has put up 10 Indian Canadian candidates, the main opposition Liberal Party has six and the New Democratic Party (NDP) a record 14.

While all the sitting MPs - Ujjal Dosanjh, Ruby Dhalla, Navdeep Bains, Gurbax Malhi, Sukh Dhaliwal, Nina Grewal, Deepak Obhrai and Rahim Jaffer - have been re-nominated by their parties, there are many new faces in the fray this time.

As the ruling Conservative Party is expected to return with a bigger tally, its three sitting Indian-origin MPs - Obhrai, Jaffer and Grewal - are almost certain to be back in parliament.

For Obhrai, who as parliamentary secretary is the highest ranking Indian Canadian in the outgoing government, it is expected to be a fifth straight victory from Calgary-East. Jaffer too should have a smooth sailing in Edmonton-Strabhcona.

“However, the ruling party’s third sitting MP Nina Grewal may face a tough battle this time in Fleetwood-Port Kells,” an Indian Canadian community leader with ties to the Conservative Party told IANS, requesting anonymity.

One of Grewal’s rivals is Indian Canadian Nao Fernando of the NDP.

For the opposition Liberal Party, Malhi, who in 1993 became the first turbaned MP in Canada, is also expected to win for the sixth time from Bramalea-Gore-Malton on the outskirts of Toronto. Fellow Indian Canadian Jaswant Singh Puniya of the NDP is his rival in this constituency.

Malhi’s two fellow MPs - Dhalla and Bains - too are likely to have a cakewalk in their Punjabi-dominant constituencies of Brampton-Springdale and Mississauga-Brampton South just outside Toronto.

In fact, Brampton-Springdale seems to be an all-Indian affair as the glamorous Dhalla faces Parm Gill of the ruling Conservative Party and Mani Singh of the NDP.

Another constituency where the three national parties have fielded Indian Canadians is Calgary-Northeast in Alberta province where Devinder Shorey of the ruling party faces Vinay Dey of the NDP and Sanam Kang of the Liberal Party.

Former Miss Canada-India and TV anchor Melissa Bhagat is another glamorous Indian Canadian in the fray in Mississauga East-Cooksville in the Toronto area.

Among the other sitting MPs, former Canadian health minister Dosanjh of the Liberal Party may face little resistance in Vancouver South riding, but his fellow MP Dhaliwal is fighting with his back to the wall in Newton-North Delta as he faces newcomer Sandeep Pandher of the ruling party.

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