Sukh Dhali­wal

Re­turns to Par­lia­ment for Sur­rey-New­ton

Asian Journal - - Front Page -

Sukh Dhali­wal served as the MP for New­ton North Delta from 2006 un­til 2011 when the rid­ing went to Jinny Sims of the NDP by a mar­gin of just un­der a thou­sand votes. Not con­tent to give up his po­lit­i­cal dreams, he went to work to be ready when the next elec­tion call came, as it did last sum­mer. I asked him about the emo­tional road when one loses an elec­tion and then comes back to win the next time. He spoke with Ray Hud­son of Asian Jour­nal about the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing an MP, los­ing and elec­tion and re­turn­ing to the House in the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

Sukh Dhali­wal: For me this rid­ing was New­ton North Delta, in fact in the south Fraser we broke the ice in 2006, elect­ing a Lib­eral, the first since 1949. We won again in 2008, served un­til 2011 and lost by a very lit­tle mar­gin. So I ac­cepted the ver­dict of the peo­ple and their choice, but at the same time I moved to this com­mu­nity. This is the com­mu­nity that has given ev­ery­thing to me, my fam­ily and my busi­ness. This is why I stayed very ac­tive. Whether or not I was an elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive, I’ve been in this com­mu­nity per­ma­nently. Other can­di­dates come and go. They will go against me for the nom­i­na­tion and go away if they don’t win. I’m the only can­di­date that was al­ways ac­tive in the com­mu­nity whether I was in of­fice or out. Af­ter los­ing, I had op­tions. I have both, Pro­fes­sional Engi­neer­ing des­ig­na­tion and BC Land Sur­veyor cer­ti­fi­ca­tion with which I have my small busi­ness. The premier is a very close friend of mine, al­most from the first time I moved into BC in the 1990s, so I had an op­tion to stay with her provin­cially but then I saw this elec­tion com­ing on.

Asian Jour­nal: We’re you think­ing that this elec­tion loss was just a bump on the road and that you were com­ing back?

Sukh Dhali­wal: In the be­gin­ning I did not think that, but when Justin Trudeau be­came the leader of the party, I thought some­one had to get in­volved and I thought if it’s not me then who? When I looked at the four years I was out of par­lia­ment, I was talk­ing to peo­ple on the street, talk­ing with the busi­nesses and talk­ing with the non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions, and ev­ery­one was com­plain­ing.

Ev­ery­one was com­plain­ing that they didn’t like the way the gov­ern­ment was han­dling var­i­ous is­sues. They ap­proached me, and en­cour­aged me to go back into the race. We went through the open nom­i­na­tion process, and we formed a team. Both Ran­deep Sarai, who ran against me for the nom­i­na­tion, and my­self came to­gether as friends, and then started work­ing to­gether to­wards this goal. From the elec­tion, the peo­ple gave me a clear man­date, 57% of the vote, for to me to rep­re­sent them. I’m very hum­bled and thank­ful to the peo­ple who have put their trust in me. It was also a win-win for Sarai be­cause he won the rid­ing just north of me in Sur­rey Cen­tre.

Now we get to the is­sues, the very first thing that we did was to help the mid­dle class fam­i­lies with their tax cuts, and ef­fec­tive this month it’s in place. Crime is a key is­sue, you know when we were on the doorsteps ev­ery­one busi­ness, ev­ery per­son was com­plain­ing about the crime sit­u­a­tion and the is­sue of one hun­dred more of­fi­cers for New­ton. The day I was elected I started a con­ver­sa­tion with the Min­is­ter of Safety, Ralph Goodale, to make sure that we can de­liver on that agree­ment that the City of Sur­rey had with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. And al­though we only had one day in the House I was able to stand and raise that ques­tion with the min­is­ter. Seventy of­fi­cers are now on the ground, ten more are on the way and the re­main­ing fif­teen will be in place be­fore the dead­line.

Then we met with Bill Fordy the Chief Su­per­in­ten­dent in Charge of the Sur­rey De­tach­ment, who ar­ranged a six-hour meet­ing with him and his sup­port staff so they could give a brief­ing, that would al­low us to iden­tify the tools and re­sources they need to ad­dress the prob­lem and make peo­ple feel safe in their com­mu­nity. We are a ser­vice to the com­mu­nity. Like to­day, the of­fice was closed but when a con­stituent had a death in the fam­ily, the whole staff is here to help. Af­ter all, all pol­i­tics is lo­cal. One part is pol­icy and the other is serv­ing the con­stituents. In fact we have more ap­pli­ca­tions in the files cre­ated in the first two months, be­cause we opened a rid­ing of­fice well ahead of oth­ers.

In a short time we have been able to achieve many things. The tax cuts for the mid­dle class fam­i­lies, the en­vi­ron­ment con­fer­ence which for the first time in­cluded the provin­cial pre­miers, the re­turn of the long cen­sus form, and re­lief for the sci­en­tists who will now be able to speak freely and bring their views for­ward. We’ve al­ready an­nounced the sum­mer jobs pro­gram will of­fer 35 thou­sand jobs, dou­bling the num­ber in the pro­gram at present. Next will come the Child Care pro­gram we promised, be­cause it has to be part of the new bud­get. And fi­nally, in­fra­struc­ture across the coun­try is in need of up­grad­ing. And the Prime Min­is­ter has said that the money will be dis­trib­uted on the rec­om­men­da­tion of the pre­miers and the may­ors. One other is­sue that will get im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion is that of the miss­ing and mur­dered In­dige­nous women. It has been drag­ging on for way too long, but it’s im­por­tant that the peo­ple can see that the gov­ern­ment is do­ing some­thing that they had asked for.

Asian Jour­nal: There has been crit­i­cism con­cern­ing the num­bers and the time­lines to bring Syr­ian refugees to Canada. Did the gov­ern­ment prom­ise more than it could de­liver in this case?

Sukh Dhali­wal: The Prime Min­is­ter and Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter came for­ward and said they’d un­der­es­ti­mated the scope and would not be able to de­liver by the year’s end, and that was the rea­son why they moved the date for their ar­rival to the end of Fe­bru­ary. I was on the doorsteps talk­ing with peo­ple in the com­mu­nity and they also had the view that the proper pro­to­cols be fol­lowed to bring the new refugees over.

Asian Jour­nal: I would like to know how you felt per­son­ally, to sit in the par­lia­ment again, this time in gov­ern­ment, and how it felt to make that walk to the Se­nate to lis­ten to the speech from the throne?

Sukh Dhali­wal: To me this is all nat­u­ral now. I have gone through at­tend­ing cau­cus meet­ings, I have chaired the North­ern In­vest­ment Cau­cus be­fore and have served on a num­ber of very high pro­file com­mit­tees and I have that ex­pe­ri­ence. Yet, I have never felt as good as I did when I was walk­ing through the hall­way to hear the speech and be­ing in the House the very first day, af­ter be­ing away for that time. That’s a greater feel­ing. And I have a whole bunch of en­ergy now and I’m mov­ing for­ward. I am the same per­son but it gives me a dif­fer­ent feel­ing, a dif­fer­ent en­ergy that I want to make a dif­fer­ence. Be­fore this, I was in a mi­nor­ity par­lia­ment sit­u­a­tion, now it’s a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment, with a fixed elec­tion date, so now we have four years to serve the peo­ple and de­liver what we promised. Ev­ery­day, when I was in the par­lia­ment be­fore, the ques­tion was al­ways ‘when is the next elec­tion?’ As a re­sult, we were more fo­cused on the pol­i­tics than the pol­icy. That’s not a prob­lem this time. There is still a lot to do with re­spect to as­sign­ments to com­mit­tees and so on, but my main pur­pose is al­ways to rep­re­sent the peo­ple and busi­nesses of this rid­ing, to be their voice in Ot­tawa, and I know how to get that done and I’ll make sure that I de­liver on that.

Photo: Ray Hud­son

Sur­rey New­ton MP Sukh Dhali­wal stands be­fore the of­fice he oc­cu­pied dur­ing his pre­vi­ous terms in par­lia­ment, al­though a new lo­ca­tion, more cen­trally sit­u­ated in the rid­ing will be opened soon

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.