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With 49 Indian-origin candidates, it’s an interesting fight in Canada

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Ottawa, Canada, September 20: With hours left before Election Day, a new poll finds Liberals and Conservatives locked in a dead heat with the latter inching ahead by just one per cent in the national popular vote.

Liberal Leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is seeking re-election, began this year’s campaign with a 14-point lead over Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.

The Jagmeet Singh-led NDP has been ranked third in the opinion polls and is likely to improve from its current strength of 24 MPs. Jagmeet Singh has had a surprising rise, sitting at a close third with 23 per cent of respondents saying he would be “best suited” to lead the country.

But, it is almost certain that Jagmeet will be in the king-maker position. He is also seeking re-election from Burnaby South in the Vancouver area.

In the previous elections of 2019, 20 Indo-Canadians, including 19 Punjabis, were elected as MPs and four of them became Cabinet ministers.

In this year’s elections, 49 Indian-origin candidates out of which 47 are Punjabi origin, are in the fray for the September 20 polls to elect a new parliament.

Of the 49 Indo-Canadian candidates this time, 16 are from the Eri O’Toole-led Conservative Party, 15 from Trudeau’s Liberal Party, 12 from Jagmeet Singh’s New Democratic Party (NDP) and six from the far-right People’s Party of Canada.

The Indian-Canadian candidates include three cabinet ministers Harjit Sajjan, Bardish Chagar and Anita Anand.

As before, there is Punjabi versus Punjabi in several constituencies around Toronto and Vancouver.

Outgoing MPs Maninder Sidhu, Ruby Sahota, Sonia Sidhu and Kamal Khera are pitted against Indian-Canadian Nav Bajaj, Medha Joshi, Ramandeep Brar and Gurpreet Gill in four of the five constituencies in the Punjabi-dominated Brampton city in Ontario.

In Alberta, the Calgary Skyview constituency is also seeing a multi-cornered battle between Jag Sahota (Conservative), Gurinder Gill (NDP) and George Chahal (Liberal).

The Punjabi-dominated city of Surrey near Vancouver is also witnessing multi-cornered fighting between Indo-Canadians in the Surrey Center and Surrey-Newton constituencies.

Incumbent Defense Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan (Liberal) faces fellow Punjabi Sukhbir Gill (Conservative) in Vancouver-South.

Interestingly, six Indo-Canadians are also contesting for the extreme right-wing People’s Party of Canada, which has become the fourth largest party in terms of national support.

The Sikh community comprises just 1 per cent of the country’s population, but they have come to wield more power than most of their immigrant counterparts. The credit goes to a robust culture of grassroots politics, organisational skills and fundraising capabilities, and a particular feature of Canada’s electoral system that requires each candidate to bring in a certain number of signatures and party members in order to get nominated.

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