NDP Holds Successful Pre-Election Campaign Rally Keeping It Positive

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By Balwant Sanghera

The New Democrat Party of British Columbia (BC NDP) had a very successful pre- election campaign rally at Burnaby’s Hilton Hotel on Sunday, February 24. As a long time New Democrat and member of the NDP’s governing body, the Provincial Council, I was very impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of the participants. More than 600 members as well as supporters of the party gathered in the overflowing ballroom of the hotel to hear the message of party leader Adrian Dix. This rally followed the meeting of the NDP delegates from throughout the province, provincial executive, MLAs and nominated candidates held earlier.

Throughout his speech, Dix emphasized that NDP will continue to run a positive campaign. The party will not engage in any personal attacks against its political opponents. “Our plan is to take the hard road to victory-no personal attacks and a positive vision for the future. You know, change for the better and one practical step at a time. To-day, we showed the hard road can be fun as well”, stated Dix. His message was reinforced by former NDP leader, Carole James, who also co-chairs the platform committee with finance critic Bruce Ralston. She urged members to stay away from negativity while staying tough on the issues. James went on to state that, if the NDP forms the next government, it won’t be able to do everything. As such, it will offer a very focused list of commitments ahead of the election.

Though the polls put the NDP ahead of the BC Liberals yet there is every likelihood that it is going to be a very close and tough election for both of the leading political parties. So the pressure is on not only on the party leaders but also on the officials and workers of both parties. This has created a lot of interest in the ethnic communities in general and the Indo-Canadian community in particular .Consequently, a record number of candidates have either been nominated or are seeking nominations especially from the Indo-Canadian community. Incidentally, the NDP candidates   are nominated through a democratic process by the local constituency associations. They are not appointed as so called star candidates by the party brass.  The Indo –Canadian community‘s interest in politics has always been very high. This is reflected in large number of Indo-Canadians occupying elected and non-elected positions at every level.

Historically, the NDP and its predecessor, CCF, have always stood with the Indo-Canadian community through thick and thin. A large number of members of our community have reciprocated this welcoming approach by being actively involved in the party at every level. In a sense, this is the party that has facilitated the integration of the Indo-Canadian community into the mainstream. It has helped open the doors for Indo-Canadians not only in politics but also in many other areas. Moe Sihota, the first Indo-Canadian elected to a legislative assembly in Canada, was elected under the NDP banner… When NDP came to power in 1991 under Mike Harcourt’s leadership, Moe was the first Indo-Canadian to sit around the cabinet table in any province in Canada. Again, it was this party that propelled another Indo-Canadian, Ujjal Dosanjh, to the highest elected office (premier) in this province in 2000.

To-day, Indo-Canadians are not only members of various   provincial legislatures and federal parliament but are also proudly sitting around the cabinet tables. Same goes for many other areas. Bringing in reforms to make the life of farm workers a bit easier, subsidized bus passes for seniors, making Punjabi as the second official language in BC’s public schools, appointing prominent Indo-Canadians to agencies, boards and corporations, opening doors to employment in government and crown corporations are just some of the commendable things that the NDP has done for our community. The list goes on and on. If the NDP is successful on May 14 in gaining the public confidence to form the government, it is likely that Indo-Canadian members of the government will be occupying some of the most prominent positions around the cabinet table as was the case in previous NDP administrations from 1991 to2001. It is now time for a change for the better under the capable leadership of Adrian Dix.

Balwant Sanghera is a long time active member of the NDP. He is also a member of the Richmond East NDP Constituency Association Executive and party’s governing body -Provincial Council-for many years.