Sikh Liberal MP gather in BC to set priorities for 2024

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In advance of the House of Commons winter and spring parliamentary session, the National Liberal Sikh Members of Parliament gathered as a Caucus in the Sea to Sky region of British Columbia to continue to build on the respective work they carried out in the past year and set their priorities for the year ahead.

Sikh Caucus Chair and MP for Calgary Skyview, George Chahal said, “We know Canadians are still facing cost of living pressures resulting from global inflation. This caucus retreat was an opportunity to review what the federal government delivered on to improve the lives of Canadians, and what more we need to do to combat the existing challenges that still need considerable attention.”

“As the Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, I recognize how the resource industries in this region are very important to our economy, so we met with local stakeholders to see how they are participating in our transition to cleaner energy solutions, job opportunities and increased economic activity in the region,” MP Chahal added.

After engaging with local stakeholders, the next day was planned to work through a full agenda focused on identifying challenges, exchanging ideas for economy, Jobs, public safety, immigration, housing, heritage Learning and religious accommodations in the Workplace

“With the submission deadline for the public consultation on legislative amendments to the Security of Information Act and the Evidence Act coming in February, we exchanged what we heard from security experts on ways to address foreign threats targeting diaspora communities in Canada through violence and extortion. We look forward to presenting some strong recommendations for our public safety agencies”, said Randeep Sarai, Parliamentary Secretary to Veterans Affairs, Associate Minister of National Defence and MP for Surrey Centre.

The Sikh Caucus all expressed their commitment to public safety and indicated the protection of all Canadians is a principal of their faith and shared values.

Harjit Sajjan, Minister for Pacific Economic Development, Minister for Emergency Preparedness, President of King’s Privy Council and MP for Vancouver South added, “the foreign interference threat is real, and it attempts to destabilize our way of life. I’ve seen this playbook throughout my career. Our Security and Law Enforcement agencies will use every tool they have to protect Canadians. We will continue to find additional approaches and tools to fight organised crime wherever it originates.”

Sonia Sidhu, MP Brampton South stated, “It was important to come together and be focused on exchanging solutions for our residents by keeping community safety at the forefront and enhancing the integrity of Canada’s immigration system.”

On the topic of immigration, the Caucus looked at tackling some existing abusive practices and the need to ensure the international student permits and economic immigration growth is sustainable.

Ruby Sahota, Chief Government Whip and MP for Brampton North said, “As representatives committed to listening and prioritizing the voices of our community, this caucus has been at the forefront of raising concerns and putting forth solutions to restore integrity to Canada’s International Student Program. This also means we will continue to push our provincial partners on sustainable growth and upholding the highest standards for institutions on their DLI list.”

Anju Dhillon, MP for Dorval – Lachine – LaSalle, raised the issue of religious accommodations in the workplace and indicated port truck drivers in the Montreal region were facing access restrictions due to their religious head coverings.

MP Dhillon said, “The labour rules have been set by our government and we just need the port authority to comply. We will request for the Labour Minister to ensure the rules are applied.”

The caucus session ended with a discussion on heritage learning, where the Caucus expressed the need to continue to share untold stories of Sikh Canadian shared military heritage, early settlement, contributions, and patriotic Canadian identity.

The Minister of Diversity, Inclusion & Persons with Disabilities, and MP for Brampton West, Kamal Khera, highlighted the upcoming 5th Anniversary of the Sikh Heritage Month Act, “It’s a milestone, to reflect on the impact and role Sikh Canadians made in shaping our nation’s history and future.”

Minister Khera reflected on the contributions Sikh Canadians have made from coast to coast to coast throughout their 126 years of Canadian heritage. She emphasized, “as Sikh caucus members, we have an important role in showcasing the contributions of Sikh Canadians, and more importantly, celebrating and sharing our rich heritage and culture with everyone.”

This April marks the 5th Anniversary of the Sikh Heritage Month Act. This Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Sukh Dhaliwal, MP for Surrey Newton, received Royal Assent and became Canadian law on April 30, 2019.

MP Dhaliwal said, “I was passionate about ensuring my bill became law because it gives us an opportunity to reflect, celebrate and educate future generations of Canadians, from all different backgrounds, about the inspirational and patriotic role that Sikh Canadians have played and continue to play in communities across Canada.”

The current winter and spring parliamentary session sits from January 29th to the third week of June.