Toronto: Harinder Malhi, who had moved the 1984 Sikh “genocide” motion in the Ontario Assembly in April last year, has been given a Cabinet berth, making her the first Sikh woman minister in the Canadian province.
The 38-year-old daughter of Canada’s first turbaned MP Gurbax Singh Malhi was sworn in as Minister of the Status of Women here today.The decision to elevate Malhi was taken by Premier Kathleen Wynne. Ontario goes to the polls in June.Malhi represents the Punjabi-dominated “riding” (constituency) of Brampton-Springdale in the Assembly, whose members are called MPPs (members of Provincial Parliament).
She joins another Indo-Canadian woman minister, Dipika Damerla, in the Ontario Cabinet.It is being speculated that because of her “genocide” motion, Malhi can help her Liberal Party retain Sikh votes which may drift to the New Democratic Party (NDP), which has elected Jagmeet Singh as its national leader. After her “genocide” resolution, many in the Sikh community view her as the champion of the cause in the community. Her party may also benefit from her father’s huge hold over Sikh voters.
As a member of the Ontario Assembly, Jagmeet had also introduced a similar motion on the anti-Sikh riots, but it failed. He was also denied visa to visit India in 2013.Brampton, on the outskirts of Toronto, has the second largest concentration of the Sikh community in Canada after Surrey (British Columbia).
Malhi’s motion in the Assembly read: “That, in the opinion of this House… should reaffirm our commitment to the values we cherish — justice, human rights and fairness — and condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.”
The motion was passed by 34-5 votes in a House of 107 members.India had rejected it, calling it a “misguided motion based on a limited understanding of India, its Constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process.”Meanwhile, Kathleen Wynne was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper:“The knowledge and skills they bring to these roles will be crucial as we continue our work to create more fairness and opportunity for the people of Ontario.”“
In a changing economy, our plan is about making sure everyone has a fair shot at getting ahead,” she said.“That’s why it is also important to me that this updated Cabinet continues to reflect both the diversity and the geography of our province,” Wynne added.