ONTARIO POLITICS SPECIAL: Will another political star be born in Ontario? All eyes on Gurpreet Dhillon!

Three provincial ridings have only South Asian candidates; former MP Gurbax Singh Malhi’s daughter is a Liberal candidate

Gurpreet Dhillon BACK in October 2011, when the NDP candidate for Ontario’s Bramalea-Gore-Malton riding, Jagmeet Singh, a criminal defence lawyer, defeated Liberal incumbent Dr. Kuldip Kular, who was first elected in 2003, he was hailed as a political star.

He had inspired many South Asians, especially the younger generation, and the key to his victory was his enthusiastic young supporters.

In this provincial election that takes place on June 12, a local basketball star, GURPREET DHILLON, 34, the NDP candidate in Brampton-Springdale, is being hailed as the new political star.

As the Toronto Star noted: “NDP, emboldened by Jagmeet Singh’s 2011 breakthrough in neighbouring Bramalea-Gore-Malton, is determined to put another splash of orange on the map.

“Dhillon, an old friend of Singh, exhibits similar rock-star appeal.”

While serving on the Toronto Police South Asian Consultative, Dhillon founded and ran a series of basketball camps and training schools in an effort to keep youth off the streets and away from gangs.

As his official bio states: “Founding the MVP Basketball Academy and partnering with both the Toronto Police and the Toronto Raptors, he has led countless programs and initiatives designed to teach young people the values of leadership, hard work, and fair play on and off the court.”

Dhillon is married and has two kids.

His rivals are fellow South Asians Harinder Malhi, daughter of former Liberal MP Gurbax Singh Malhi (Bramalea-Gore-Malton from 1993 to 2011), and Pam Hundal of the Progressive Conservatives (PC), who in the 2011 election came a close second to Liberal Linda Jeffrey.

Linda Jeffrey, who was a minister, resigned as MPP for Brampton-Springdale to run for mayor of Brampton. (In Ontario, an MLA is called an MPP – Member of Provincial Parliament).

Jeffrey’s resignation has resulted in three provincial ridings having only South Asian candidates from the three major parties: Brampton-Springdale, Bramalea-Gore-Malton and Brampton West.


The Liberals’ HARINDER MALHI is accompanied by her dad Gurbax Singh Malhi while door-knocking and one news report said he is warmly greeted by people.

Her official bio doesn’t say who her dad is. But it states that she “is an experienced trustee who has represented Brampton wards 9 and 10 for the Peel District School Board for the past 3½ years.”

It also says: “Harinder has been actively involved in many community organizations. She was an administrator for summer camps and volunteers with municipal, provincial and federal organizations.

“Harinder also supports non-profit organizations such as the Canadian-South Asians Supporting Independent Living (CSASIL) Association in Brampton, and collects donations for local shelters and food banks.”

It adds: “Harinder has lived and worked in the Brampton area for the past 18 years and is very proud to call Brampton her home.”

The PC’s PAM HUNDAL was born and raised in Brampton and has two kids. She has a “busy and successful law career.” She was raised in Brampton by her immigrant parents Sam and Narinder Hundal.

Her official bio states: “She started volunteering at the age of 15 and has continued volunteering in the community she lives in. Some of her volunteering positions have been: Citizen member of the City of Brampton’s Environmental Committee, board member for the Ad Hoc Advocacy Committee for the Children’s Aid Society. She is the past board chair for the North Peel and Dufferin Legal Clinic, advisor for Junior Achievement Brampton Chapter and co-chair for the Fundraising Gala Dinner for New Brampton Hospital and member of the Diversity Outreach committee for Wellspring Cancer Centre Brampton Location.”


The star of the riding, of course, is the incumbent MPP JAGMEET SINGH. After completing his B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Western Ontario, he earned an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School. He is fluent in three languages – English, French and Punjabi. Jagmeet offered free legal rights seminars across Ontario and provided pro bono legal counsel for people and community organizations in need.

His bio states: “He was listed as one of the Toronto Star’s Top 12 people to watch for 2012, named in the Queen’s Park Briefing in 2013 as one Ontario’s 75 most powerful people, and featured in Toronto Life’s “50 Most Influential People,” as one of the five youngest rising stars.

“Recently described as one of the more dashing public figures, Jagmeet was covered in Toronto Life’s Stylebook 2013 as one of Toronto’s most stylish people and was one of the 10 style icons presented in Yorkdale Mall’s 50th-anniversary style-makers campaign.”

The Liberals’ candidate is DR. KULDIP S. KULAR – the man Jagmeet Singh unseated in the last election.

Kular was first elected MPP for the riding of Bramalea-Gore-Malton-Springdale in 2003, and was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to various ministers and served on a raft of committees. In 2007, he was re-elected. With the boundary changes, the riding became Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

Kular immigrated to Canada from the Province of Punjab, India, in 1974. He obtained his medical degree from Guru Nanak Dev University in Punjab and did two years of residency training in pediatrics at the IWK Hospital for Sick Children (Dalhousie University) in Halifax. He worked in the Canadian Armed Forces Hospital in Halifax before moving to Campbellton, New Brunswick, where he spent eight years in family practice until his final move to Brampton in 1986. He and his wife, Jessie, have raised their four children in the community while operating a successful family and sports medicine clinic in Bramalea.

The PC candidate is HARJIT JASWAL, a resident of Bramalea-Gore-Malton for 11 years.

His bio states: “He came to Canada seeking opportunity and a better life for his kids. His daughter, Gurpreet, is a doctor of medicine, and his son Karan is a computer engineer. … Harjit holds a Bachelor of Science, a Bachelor of Education, and an Associate of Science Degree in Medical Lab Technology. He is a real estate broker and works for Sutton. Over the years, his hard work and dedication to serve others has led him to receive numerous awards, and seats on the Government Relations Advisory Council as well as the Professional Standards Committee for the Brampton Real Estate Board.”


The incumbent MPP is the Liberals’ VIC DHILLON, who was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003. Prior to joining government, Vic established a family-owned business. He successfully led many non-profit fundraising campaigns for the local food bank, the Korean War Memorial, and a leading local group that helps regions after natural disasters (such as the ice storm in eastern Ontario, the earthquake in Pakistan and the tsunami in Asia). Vic has also been credited by some local residents as being instrumental in saving the Knight’s Table, a non-profit diner that provides meals for Brampton’s poor and homeless.

Vic has lived in Brampton for most of his life. He has three kids.

The PC candidate is RANDEEP SANDHU.

His bio states: “Born in the Punjab region of India, Randeep attended one of India’s premier educational institutions, the Sri Dasmesh Academy before graduating from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and immigrating to Ontario in 1996.”

He built his own successful logistics company, Load Solutions Inc, based in Puslinch creating more than 100 jobs in the community and has been a resident of Brampton West for more 13 years.
He is on the rate payers committee in his ward, volunteers in Peel Multicultural Council and is an active member of Guelph Chamber of Commerce. Randeep has one kid.

The NDP’s candidate is GUGNI GILL PANAICH, who was born in India, raised in Ethiopia, and holds a B.A from Delhi University and a diploma in computer science / secretarial practices from the Polytechnic for Women in Chandigarh, India.

She is the Director on the Advisory Board for the Punjabi International Film Festival, and is the North American Brand Ambassador for Imran Khan Cancer Foundation. Dedicated to the issues of domestic violence, poverty and women’s equality, Gugni has organized multiple events and fundraisers in Brampton. She has two kids.


There are a large number of South Asian candidates in all the three major parties and they reflect the diversity of the South Asian population.

Just in the Brampton-Mississauga area there are seven other South Asian candidates, including incumbent Liberal MPPs Harinder Takhar (Mississauga-Erindale) and Amrit Mangat (Mississauga-Brampton South).

HARINDER TAKHAR, former transportation and government services minister, was first elected as MPP in 2003 and has served in several senior ministerial roles. At first he was not going to run as both his parents passed away last year and he was in hospital with chest pains. But then he changed his mind. Before his election, he was President and CEO of Chalmers Group, where he increased sales eighteen-fold in ten years. Chalmers was judged a finalist among the 50 best-managed private companies in Canada in 1995. He has two kids.

AMRIT MANGAT was first elected in 2007 and is the first woman of South Asian heritage to serve as an MPP. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a Masters in Economics, a Bachelor of Education, and a Masters in Education. She is a member in good standing of the Ontario College of Teachers. Prior to being elected, Amrit worked as an educator, a law firm administrator, and owned and managed several small businesses.

The other five candidates in the Brampton-Mississauga area are NDP’s Anju Sikka (Mississauga-Streetsville) and Fayaz Karim (Mississauga East-Cooksville), who was born in Trinidad and Tobago; the Liberals’ Dipkika Damerla (Mississauga East-Cooksville); and the PC’s Amarjit Gill (Mississauga-Brampton South) and Nina Tangri (Mississauga-Streetsville).

(For more photos of candidates, please go to our E-PAPER)