Deepak Obhrai re-appointed Canada’s parliamentary secretaryMay 26th, 2011 - 9:32 am ICT by IANS
Toronto, May 26 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper Wednesday re-appointed senior-most Indo-Canadian MP Deepak Obhrai as parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs.
Obhrai, who is the longest serving Indo-Canadian MP currently in his sixth term, has served in the same capacity since 2006.
“This is a vote of confidence by the prime minister and I am honoured once again to have been chosen for this important portfolio. I look forward to representing Canada on the international stage,” Obhrai said in a statement after his re-appointment.
He said he was looking forward to work with the new minister of foreign affairs John Baird.
In naming his new cabinet last week, Prime Minister Harper had appointed first-time Indo-Canadian MP Bal Gosal as a minister of state for sports and two-term MP Tim Uppal, a 37-year-old Canadian-born turbaned Sikh from Edmonton, as minister of state for democratic reform.
But many in the community termed Obhrai’s re-appointment to the same post ‘a ‘demotion’ since two junior Indo-Canadian MPs have been made minister of state by ’superseding’ him.
Said prominent Gujarati businessman Hemant Shah, “If I were in Mr Obhrai’s place, I would have told Stephen Harper: ‘Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. But I would like to sit in parliament as an MP only.”
Shah said, “This man has done so much for promoting the India-Canada relationship. He should have been at least made a minister of state.”
A senior Indo-Canadian political leader of the opposition Liberal Party said, “Uppal and Bal have become ministers at the cost of Obhrai because the ruling Conservative Party wants to be seen rewarding the Sikh community which switched loyalties this time to vote for them (the Conservative Party) and helped wrest some important ridings(constituencies) from the Liberal Party.”
An Indo-Canadian corporate executive, who lauded Obhrai for promoting closer ties between India and Canada, added, “Possibly, he should have been awarded with promotion. But then it is the PM’s prerogative and you have to accept this.”
With Obhrai’s re-appointment, the new Canadian cabinet has three Indo-Canadian faces - the maximum ever in the government.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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