BY RATTAN MALL
ALBERTA’S NDP Premier Rachel Notley and her 11 cabinet ministers were sworn in on the legislature steps in Edmonton on Sunday and they included Irfan Sabir (Calgary-McCall), one of only two South Asians elected MLAs. The other MLA is Anam Kazim (Calgary-Glenmore), also NDP.
Sabir, a Pakistani-born immigrant, worked as a lawyer for an Aboriginal law firm and volunteered at Calgary Legal Guidance, Red Cross Canada. He worked for five years in a homeless shelter in Calgary.
He has been living in Calgary since 2004. He has a degree in Economics from University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and a degree in Social Work and Law from the University of Calgary.
Sabir has been involved with politics and human rights movements since graduating from high school.
The ministry of human services is a super ministry.
Notley told thousands of enthusiastic Albertans who filled the legislature grounds: “It is springtime in Alberta and a fresh wind is blowing. To harness its potential, the hard work begins today.”
The NDP won a stunning victory as it bagged 54 of 87 seats in the May 5 election that has seen a surge for the federal NDP in Canada. The Progressive Conservatives won only nine seats. The Wildrose Party with 21 seats will remain the Official Opposition. The Liberals and the Alberta Party each won one seat.
Some interesting facts:
- In the 2012 election, seven South Asians were elected MLAs: They were incumbent Progressive Conservative MLAs Manmeet Bhullar (Calgary-Greenway), Naresh Bhardwaj (Edmonton-Ellerslie), and Peter Sandhu (Edmonton-Manning), Progressive Conservative newcomers Sohail Quadri (Edmonton-Mill Woods) and Stephen Khan (St. Albert in the Edmonton area); and incumbent Liberal MLAs Raj Sherman (Edmonton-Meadowlark) and Darshan S. Kang (Calgary-McCall).
- The 25 South Asian candidates who lost:
* Calgary-Buffalo: David Khan (Lib)
* Calgary-Cross: Moiz Mahmood (WRP) / Manjot S. Gill (Lib)
* Calgary-Fort: Jeevan Mangat (WRP)
* Calgary-Greenway: Manmeet Bhullar (PC) / Devinder Toor (WRP)
* Calgary-Hawkwood: Harbaksh S. Sekhon (Lib)
* Calgary-Hays: Shawn Emran (Lib)
* Calgary-MacKay-Nose Hill: Prab Lashar (Lib)
* Calgary-McCall: Jagdeep Kaur Sahota (PC) / Happy Mann (WRP) / Avinash Khangura (Lib)
* Calgary-Northern Hills: Prasad Panda (WRP)
* Calgary-Southeast: Gladwin Gill
* Calgary-West: Mizanur Rahman (NDP)
* Edmonton-Ellerslie: Harman Kandola (PC)
* Edmonton-Manning: Gurcharan Garcha (PC) / Atiq Rehman (WRP)
* Edmonton-Mill Woods: Sohail Quadri (PC) / Baljit Sall (WRP)
* Edmonton-Mill Creek: Saqib Raja (WRP) / Harpreet Singh (Lib)
* Edmonton-Calder: Amit Batra (Lib)
* Chestermere-Rocky View: Leela Aheer (WRP)
* St. Albert: Stephen Khan (PC)