THE World Sikh Organization of Canada on Tuesday announced that it has examined key issues with respect to Sikhs in the Canadian Parliament from January 2018 until now to determine which MPs have been raising those issues.
January 2018 was used as the starting point in recognition of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India trip in February 2018 which put Sikh Canadian issues at the forefront, and signalled a greater focus from Sikh Canadians on the ability of MPs to speak on important community issues. This analysis captures approximately the last three years of activities, and provides a snapshot more reflective of the current political climate.
Although statements and questions by MPs in the House of Commons are only one way of raising issues concerning the community, they are incredibly important, the WSO said.
Though The WSO looked at all the Sikh issues MPs spoke about, it said that it focused more closely on the following four issues:
- The settlement of Afghan Sikh and Hindu refugees in Canada
- The addition of “Sikh (Khalistan) Extremism” to the 2018 Public Safety Terror Report
- Quebec’s Bill 21
- The RCMP Sikh beard issue.
Despite the fact that there are 17 Sikh MPs (12 Liberal, 4 Conservative and 1 NDP), the most vocal MP with respect to Sikh issues has been Conservative Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan). Genuis has raised a variety of issues with respect to the Sikh community, including the plight of Sikhs in Afghanistan, the addition of “Sikh (Khalistan) Extremism” to the 2018 Public Safety Terror Report and Quebec’s discriminatory Bill 21.
The second-most vocal MP on Sikh issues is Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey Newton) who successfully advocated for the Sikh Heritage Month Act which takes place in April of every year.
In addition to the key issues identified above, it is notable that since 2018, only four MPs have spoken to commemorate the tragic events of 1984 and only one MP, NDP’s Tracey Ramsey (Essex), has used the term ‘1984 Sikh genocide.’
The WSO said it has previously expressed concern that while Trudeau, as leader of the Liberal Party in 2014, issued a statement calling “on the Indian government to pursue the truth, pursue justice for those who carry the scars of 1984, and pursue accountability for all people of India”, since becoming Prime Minister in 2015, no subsequent statement has been issued.
Furthermore, despite there being a Muslim Parliamentary Caucus, Ahmadiyya Parliamentary Friendship Group, Canadian Tamil Friendship Group, and many other such similar groups, there is no Sikh Parliamentary Caucus. Sikh caucuses exist in the UK and the USA, however, suggestions to create a similar group in Canada have not yet been accepted.
The WSO said: “Representation matters, but only if our representatives speak about issues that matter to us. We invite the Sikh community to take a look at which MPs have been speaking about issues affecting the Sikh community – recognize the efforts of those who have been engaged and encourage those who have been silent to do better.”