BY RATTAN MALL
WITH six South Asian NDP MLAs – Harry Bains, Raj Chouhan, Jinny Sims, Jagrup Brar, Rachna Singh and Ravi Kahlon – the community is naturally speculating about how many of them will make it to John Horgan’s cabinet on Tuesday (July 18).
A reasonable guess would be four – but then again, who knows?
Horgan could also appoint some as parliamentary secretaries.
Horgan has interviewed each MLA, asking them about their interests and aims. It will be only on Monday that those chosen will be informed.
Two who are most likely to be in cabinet are, of course, Bains and Chouhan.
Bains was re-elected as the MLA for Surrey-Newton. He was first elected in May 2005 and re-elected in May 2009 and then again in May 2013. He represents a riding that has the largest concentration of South Asians in B.C.
Bains served on the Kwantlen University College Board of Governors from 1993 to 1999, serving as vice-chair for three of those years. He was an elected officer of Steelworkers-IWA Canada Local 2171 for over 15 years and also served as vice-president of his local, where he led negotiations and engaged in bargaining for better working conditions for working people.
Minister of Labour? But then again, with Bains’ experience and calibre, he could be minister of just about any department!
Then there is Chouhan, who was Assistant Deputy Speaker. Some think he will be the next Speaker. Maybe. But then, Chouhan may have told Horgan that he wants to try something different and he sure has the calibre to handle many portfolios.
Chouhan was first elected as the MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds in May 2005. He was then re-elected in May 2009 and again in May 2013. He represents a very multicultural riding. He’s a founding member of the B.C. Organization to Fight Racism. He has served as the vice-president of B.C. Human Rights Defenders since 2003. Raj has taught courses on human rights, the B.C. Labour Code and collective bargaining since 1987.
HORGAN is expected to have a mix of the old and the young in his cabinet – and that’s where
Kahlon, the only South Asian MLA who was born in Canada, is highly likely to end up in cabinet. He was elected from Delta North for the first time this year.
He was born and raised in Victoria and is a two-time Olympian in field hockey for Team Canada. He has been inducted into the Delta Sports Hall of Fame.
Prior to his election, Ravi spent seven years in banking, and another six years working with the New Democrat Caucus as Director of Stakeholder Relations. He has been a volunteer on the boards of the Delta Parks and Recreation Committee and Men’s High Performance Field Hockey BC. He is also a certified coach and mentor to many youth in North Delta, and spends time coaching field hockey and soccer.
What better person to inspire South Asian and other youths?
COMING back to the experienced ones, there are Sims and Brar.
Sims, who was elected from Surrey-Panorama, earned her education degree at the University of Manchester in Britain and became a high school teacher when she moved to Canada. She was elected the president of the BC Teachers’ Federation in 2004. In 2011, she was elected MP for Newton-North Delta, and served as the critic for International Cooperation, Critic for Immigration and Critic for Employment. After she lost the next election, she turned to provincial politics.
The general expectation would be the education portfolio for her. But then again, we will have to wait and see.
Brar, who was elected from Surrey-Fleetwood this year, was first elected as an MLA in Surrey in 2004, and served until 2013 when he was defeated. Previously, Jagrup served as the Official Opposition Spokesperson for Small Business, Healthy Living and Sport, Employment and Income Assistance, as well Solicitor General and Public Safety.
He also has a sports background, having been a member of the Indian National Basketball team. He earned a Master’s degree in philosophy and then moved to Canada to study Public Administration and received an MPA. For over a decade, he worked in the public and non-profit sectors. As the Executive Director of the Surrey Self Employment and Entrepreneur Development Society (SEEDS), Jagrup trained new entrepreneurs to develop and launch successful small business ventures.
So, there’s a lot of talent there, too.
RACHNA Singh is the first-time MLA from Surrey-Green Timbers. She moved from India to Canada in 2001 and has worked as a drug and alcohol counsellor, a support worker for women facing domestic violence, and a community activist. She might have to wait for a few years before being considered for cabinet.