After four years of Punjabi being the most important language in Parliament and after the historic election of 20 Punjabi speaking candidates to the House of Commons, finally the decision has come that is now the official third language in the Parliament of Canada.
Twenty-three Members of Parliament of South Asian-origin were elected to the House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, in the October 19 parliamentary elections. It is the most diverse cabinet in the country’s history and is now gender equal, which makes it a cabinet to envy and to aspire to. Of the 20 who speak Punjabi, 18 are Liberals and two are Conservatives. Among the newly-elected Punjabi-speaking MPs, 14 are males and six are females. Ontario elected 12, British Columbia four, Alberta three and one is from Quebec.
Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau is scheduled to unveil his Cabinet this week and some of these Liberal MPs are expected to be included in the front bench.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made waves with his inclusive policies of minorities, especially Sikhs. He jokes, “I have more Sikhs in my cabinet than Narendra Modi.”
According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey, 430,705 Canadians identified Punjabi as their mother tongue, making it the third most common language after English and French. The 430,705 native Punjabi speakers make up about 1.3 per cent of Canada’s population. The 20 Punjabi-speaking MPs represent almost six per cent of the House of Commons.
If you take a look at headlines in the past year, you’ll find the Prime Minister making headlines for apologizing to Sikhs for the racist Komagata Maru incident (occurred 102 years ago) and attending a Vaisakhi celebration.
Some of the current cabinet members include Canada’s defense minister Harjit Sajjan, a former police officer and vet of three military deployments to Afghanistan. He’s kind of a social media celebrity. Other members include Amarjeet Sohi the Minister of Infrastructure, Navedeep Bains (a business school professor), and Bardish Chagger the Minister of Small Business and Tourism.
Sohi made headlines for being a political prisoner. He was arrested in 1988 for being a terrorist, he was beaten and tortured, held without charges, and spent time in solitary confinement. A deeper look into his past shows he was a bus driver before he entered politics.
While some are hailing this as a win for Sikhs, others say the candidates are controversial and aren’t too happy!
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