Interesting Ontario federal contest developing in Brampton North: White, turbaned Sikh Martin Singh vs. MP Parm Gill  

 Martin Singh  Photo by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio
Martin Singh
Photo by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio


WITH Martin Singh, the white convert to Sikhism who unsuccessfully ran against Tom Mulcair in the 2012 federal NDP leadership contest, being acclaimed the NDP candidate in Ontario’s new Brampton North riding in Ontario last weekend, it will be interesting to watch how he dukes it out with Conservative MP Parm Gill.

The new riding (Brampton will have five ridings this time – one more than in the 2011 election) includes most of the present riding of Brampton-Springdale which is represented by Gill, who will in all probability run from Brampton North this time.

Parm Gill (right) with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Parm Gill (right) with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In the last election, when the federal Liberals’ popularity had gone down drastically, Gill ended up thrashing the then-Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla. Gill got more than 24,600 votes, while Dhalla got only about 14,200 votes, with the NDP’s Manjit Grewal in third place with about 9,960 votes. The mudslinging between Dhalla and Gill didn’t really help the South Asian image.

But with Liberal popularity having gone up again thanks to Justin Trudeau and Dhalla having announced in October that she will not be running, it will be interesting to see who emerges as the Liberal candidate.

Martin Singh says the following about himself on his webpage:

“Martin Singh is a pro-business member of the NDP. He is a pharmacist and businessman who resides with his wife and three children in Brampton, Ontario. Martin has served on many non-profit boards at the local, provincial, and national level. Martin has chemistry, chemical engineering, and pharmacy degrees from Dalhousie University as well as a MBA from Saint Mary’s University. Martin is an active member of the Sikh faith and the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves.

“Martin grew up in an entrepreneurial family working in his father’s community pharmacy, Forest Hill Drug Mart. With his brother Nathan, they later grew this pharmacy and expanded to a second location. Seeing opportunities for both horizontal and vertical expansion, Martin and Nathan joined with two other partners to create a new company that has over 20 locations in both Ontario and Nova Scotia. The company currently employs approximately 400 people.

“In the company, Martin’s job responsibilities include all aspects of pharmacy operation as well as the delivery of health care in the care facilities. Business acquisition decisions, inventory management, human resources, pharmacy law and regulations, business development, and new product development are all areas that Martin is responsible for on a regular basis.”


ACCORDING to a 2006 article of the Maritime Sikh Society posted on the United Punjab website ( “The Maritime Sikh Society created its own little piece of history when it unanimously elected a 33-year-old gora (white) Sikh, Martin (Jarnail ) Singh, as its president for the year 2006 at its annual meeting on December 11, 2005.”

It added: “When Martin was about 15, he began searching for a faith that he was comfortable with. “Three years later I was in Calgary for a political convention,” recalls Martin, “and it was at this same convention that I met a number of people from the Sikh community from Calgary and the rest of Canada. Through a Sikh friend, Dalwinder Aujla, I acquired a number of texts that spoke about the Sikh faith, I felt as though I had found what I been looking for. After completing a good amount of reading and performing a good amount of soul searching, the conversion to becoming a Sikh felt as though it was the natural next step.”

“Martin came to the Gurdwara at 10 Parkill Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia for the first time in October 1991 and got baptized a few years later at Martindale Gurdwara in Calgary. Though he got a new name, Jarnail Singh after the Amrit (baptism) ceremony, it did not stick to him as there were no Sikh families in the area he lived in. For his relatives and friends he was still Martin.

“Martin’s search for a life partner took him to Amritsar in 1997 where he met Amandeep Kaur and her family. The marriage took place at the local Gurdwara located in A Block, Ranjeet Avenue in Amritsar.”