Meet Harpreet Singh, Con­ser­va­tive Can­di­date for New­ton

Asian Journal - - Person In Focus - Ray Hud­son

Sur­rey: Harpreet Singh, a 23 year ca­reer jour­nal­ist, says he has spent the best part of his life cre­at­ing aware­ness “amongst the peo­ple.” But in ex­plain­ing why he has made the jump to pol­i­tics, he said that he now feels the need to par­tic­i­pate in chang­ing poli­cies and to bring peo­ple’s con­cerns, chal­lenges and is­sues to the public arena and to work on so­lu­tions. Ray Hud­son asked what he felt were the top is­sues of con­cern to this rid­ing.

Harpreet Singh: The ma­jor thing on the minds of the peo­ple is crime. The in­creas­ing num­bers of vi­o­lent events are leav­ing peo­ple feel­ing afraid. The sec­ond con­cern com­ing from that is a fear for their chil­dren go­ing into drugs and in­creas­ing gang vi­o­lence. Peo­ple are even talk­ing about leav­ing New­ton. That has to change. The gov­ern­ment has pro­posed many changes in leg­is­la­tion, but un­for­tu­nately they are not hav­ing the de­sired im­pact be­cause the laws need to be changed. For ex­am­ple, a po­lice of­fi­cer ar­rests a sus­pect who goes be­fore a judge. He gets re­leased and comes back to do the crime again. It’s a cat and mouse game be­ing played. Yes, in­di­vid­ual rights are great, but what about the col­lec­tive rights of peo­ple? This is an area where I feel that this gov­ern­ment is do­ing a good job. It’s one of the rea­sons I sup­port the poli­cies of the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment. I’m find­ing that peo­ple are frus­trated with the politi­cians. I have al­ways been a very blunt per­son, an open per­son. The peo­ple I talk to say they’re not happy with their politi­cians be­cause they come and make state­ments and go. In Sur­rey New­ton, they say they haven’t seen any­one come and talk to them about is­sues. To deal with that, once elected, I will divide this rid­ing into four parts, and ev­ery two months hold town hall meet­ings where com­mon peo­ple can come and share their views, a place where the en­tire com­mu­nity can par­tic­i­pate in de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions.

Asian Jour­nal: What are the other ma­jor is­sues at the na­tional level? Harpreet Singh: Peo­ple are con­cerned about jobs and the econ­omy, and in Sur­rey I feel there’s a lot of scope where we can get the gov­ern­ment in­volved and get some good busi­nesses here. Sur­rey is de­vel­op­ing at a fast pace with 1000, to 1,200 peo­ple per month com­ing here. We need more busi­nesses here. Asian Jour­nal: What do you see the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s role in do­ing that? Harpreet Singh: With the in­volve­ment for ex­am­ple, of the Sur­rey Board of Trade, the gov­ern­ment has good poli­cies for busi­ness such as the low­est tax struc­ture for busi­nesses. With the in­volve­ment of the civic au­thor­i­ties and the peo­ple, we can at­tract busi­ness here by pro­vid­ing a bet­ter busi­ness cli­mate. That way the gov­ern­ment of Canada can play its role with their eco­nomic ac­tion plan. That is how we can in­flu­ence busi­ness to come over here. Also in Sur­rey there’s a lot of less ex­pen­sive space com­pared to Van­cou­ver, which makes Sur­rey more at­trac­tive. The job of a mem­ber of par­lia­ment is not just to give speeches. I feel that peo­ple are los­ing faith in the demo­cratic struc­ture. It’s not good enough that once ev­ery four years you go and talk to them with big prom­ises. I feel that peo­ple need to be in­volved on ev­ery front, but I’m see­ing there is a big gap. When I’m door knock­ing and meet­ing peo­ple, es­pe­cially the young­sters, I’m find­ing they’re not at all in­ter­ested. I feel that un­less we in­volve our youth in fur­ther demo­cratic is­sues, it’s not go­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

Asian Jour­nal: How do you see get­ting the youth in­ter­ested? Harpreet Singh: It’s a world of so­cial me­dia to­day, and that’s where more em­pha­sis needs to be put on con­nect­ing with young peo­ple. We need to get them in­volved, find out what they are in­ter­ested in, and find out why they aren’t tak­ing an in­ter­est in the is­sues of so­ci­ety. It’s not go­ing to be easy, but by con­stantly com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them and in­volv­ing them in dia­logue we can slowly make progress. Young­sters are ide­al­is­tic, but I think when ide­al­ism and re­al­ism come to­gether, I feel we can come up with some good so­lu­tions by hav­ing a con­stant dia­logue with them.

Asian Jour­nal: Where do you stand on Bill C51? Harpreet Singh: I fully sup­port Bill C51 be­cause it’s not an attack on any in­di­vid­ual free­dom or rights of peo­ple, be­cause the ju­di­cial re­view is still there. While the op­po­si­tion is de­mand­ing par­lia­men­tary over­sight, ju­di­cial over­sight is al­ready there. The op­po­si­tion is say­ing that you can­not go and protest; for ex­am­ple, some­one who is con­cerned about the en­vi­ron­ment can­not stand and protest. That’s not cor­rect. It’s only those peo­ple who have es­pi­onage, or not the in­ter­ests of Canada, in their mind. They’re the ones who are be­ing looked into. I am a proud Sikh. When I go to the air­port, and some­one touches my tur­ban when I go on the plane, I should not mind it be­cause the lives of three hun­dred peo­ple are in­volved. I re­spect in­di­vid­ual and re­li­gious rights and free­doms, but when it in­volves col­lec­tive rights we all need to sub­mit to some­thing. To­day the ma­jor threat all over the world is ter­ror­ism. Only the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment has taken a strong stand on it. When our par­lia­ment was at­tacked, the leader of one op­po­si­tion party said, that it was not a ter­ror­ist attack. The RCMP Com­mis­sioner said it was a ter­ror­ist attack, and when the film of the at­tacker was re­leased, we heard what he planned to do: kill the in­fi­dels and all that. When the in­tegrity and se­cu­rity of Canada is con­cerned, we should have a sin­gle ap­proach be­cause the safety and se­cu­rity of our cit­i­zens is fore­most, ir­re­spec­tive of party af­fil­i­a­tion. So Bill C51 is the right thing be­cause RCMP and CSIS need spies to keep an eye on those dis­grun­tled el­e­ments who do not have the in­ter­ests of Canada in mind. Canada’s in­ter­ests are fore­most, ev­ery­thing else is sec­ondary.

Asian Jour­nal: What ex­pe­ri­ence would you bring to be­ing a mem­ber of par­lia­ment? Your main op­po­nents in New­ton in­clude the in­cum­bent MP and the for­mer MP?

Harpreet Singh: It’s in­ter­est­ing, the MP says that noth­ing has been done re­gard­ing vi­o­lence in Sur­rey yet bills were be­ing passed in the par­lia­ment to make our com­mu­ni­ties and streets safer in­clud­ing; in­creased penal­ties for sex­ual of­fences against chil­dren; tougher sen­tences for the pro­duc­tion and traf­fick­ing of il­licit drugs; bet­ter pro­tec­tion from vi­o­lent and re­peat of­fend­ers; elim­i­nat­ing con­di­tional sen­tences and house ar­rest for se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent crimes. When th­ese bills were passed the op­po­si­tion voted against them. That is why I feel peo­ple are not happy with politi­cians, and as far as ex­pe­ri­ence is con­cerned, I have more ex­pe­ri­ence than them be­cause (as a jour­nal­ist) I have been deal­ing with all kinds of peo­ple, all kinds of is­sues, and I am the only can­di­date who lives in the Sur­rey New­ton rid­ing.

Photo: Ray Hud­son

Harpreet Singh, Con­ser­va­tive Can­di­date for New­ton.

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