By Ken Herar. It was recently brought to my attention that a provincial political party does not want any more South Asian candidates representing them in the May election.
I don’t know how true this is, but it’s nevertheless shocking to say
the least. This brings us to a bigger question here at home: Is it
time the voters of the Fraser Valley considered electing a South Asian
to Victoria or Ottawa?
It would be historical to say the least, and it would bring diverse
voices from various communities that are rapidly growing in the area.
Unfortunately, the Fraser Valley region has always struggled to get
elected ethnic representation to public office.
One example of this would be Abbotsford Coun. Moe Gill, who ran
unsuccessfully for a civic seat for decades, finally getting elected
in the mid 1990s.
Until a city like Abbotsford, one of most diverse communities in
Canada, elects someone from the South Asian community (the largest
visible minority group in the area) to a senior level of government,
the cultural divide will continue to exist in some shape or form.
Holding key leadership positions certainly changes the perception of
how people view certain communities.
It would be historical to see one of the three South Asians vying for
a political seat this year here in the central Fraser Valley actually
capture a nod in the upcoming provincial election. Can Lakhvinder
Jhaj, Sukhi Dhami or Preet Rai accomplish this enormous task?
Anything is possible when it comes to B.C. politics, and I believe
they realize the task before them. In a nutshell, too many South Asian
candidates have ran provincially and federally in the past, but were
never in a position to win in the first place and this must also
For this become a reality, there has to be stronger unity within the
South Asian community.
Rai said: “I am excited about my chances in the upcoming elections and
will have to work very hard. I am a true believer in diversity and
want to represent the entire community, and I want to listen to all
the voices in the community.
“If you find me in campaigning on the streets or in the community door
knocking, feel free to speak with me about any concerns”.
The closest the Valley has come to getting a South Asian candidate
elected to Victoria was in 1956 when former Mission mayor Naranjan
Grewall almost defeated former Socred labour minister Lyle Wicks for
the Dewdney seat.
Some even say he won that election and lost it due to vote tampering.
Six years earlier, he was first elected to Mission council, making him
the first visible minority and Indo-Canadian elected to public office
in this country.
He was later nominated as a provincial candidate for the Cooperative
Commonwealth Federation, also making him the first visible minority to
run as a candidate in Canada.
All told, it’s a wonderful part of Canadian history we can all be proud of.