By Prabhjot Singh*
Born and brought up in Scarborough, Bobby Singh, has joined the Conservative leadership race. He comes from an immigrant Punjabi family, and is one of nine candidates so far in the run.
Canada’s Conservatives will have their new leader elected by Saturday, September 10. In choosing its third leader in five years, Conservative Party of Canada members have a tough decision to make as the party has not done well in the federal elections in the recent past. Though it looks a battle of wits featuring Mr Pierre Poilievre, Mr Jean Charest, Mr Patrick Brown, and Ms Leslyn Lewis, others who have entered the race so far include Mr. Roman Baber, Mr. Joseph Bourgault, Mr. Scott Aitchison, Mr. Marc Dalton, and Mr. Bobby Singh.
Prospective candidates will have until April 19 to apply to enter the leadership election. The candidates will provide a total entry fee of $200,000, in addition to a compliance deposit of $100,000 which is refundable after the election is concluded.
Only those members who are enrolled on or before June 3 shall be eligible to vote. The last election in 2020 took little longer as it was conducted by postal battle because of the Corona pandemic.
Bobby Singh had unsuccessfully contested election to House of Commons in 2019 from Scarborough Rouge Park. He was also in the run for the party leadership in 2020 before retiring from contest in favour of another candidate Peter MacKay.
Early this week, Jagmeet Singh, who became the first non-white immigrant to head a national party – NDP – was in news after signing an agreement with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that keeps the minority Liberal government in office till completion of its full term in 2025.
Bobby Singh jumped in the fray even before the NDP-Liberal agreement was signed. At one stage there were speculations that once the Conservatives have a new leader, it may challenge the minority Liberal government to force yet another federal election. Now after the NDP-Liberal agreement, speculations of an early federal poll have more or less disappeared.
The Conservative leadership election has been necessitated after Erin O Toole, elected in 2020, was forced to quit early this year.
“The son of immigrants, I am a proud Canadian of the Punjabi Sikh community and have lived my entire life in the district of Scarborough, specifically 30 years as a resident in Scarborough Rouge Park. I have watched this community mature and transition, from being a predominantly English-Canadian community to now representing multiple minority groups accounting for over 56% of the population with South Asians serving as the largest visible minority,” Bobby Singh had stated before contesting the 2019 federal elections.
He claims to be a successful entrepreneur – business professional with nearly two decades of experience in launching start-up businesses. He says he has also worked within financial, retail, government, and consumer packaged goods industries advising stakeholders within customer service, finance, and strategy capacities.
In 2016 he expressed interest to run as a nominee for candidate in the Ontario Scarborough Rouge River provincial by-election. Subsequently, in 2017 he sought appointment to Toronto City Council.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science degrees in Finance-Economics and Psychology from the University of Toronto, a Master of Business Administration degree from the Schulich School of Business, York University, and a Master of Public Policy Administration and Law degree and Graduate Diploma in Justice Administration from the School of Public Policy, York University.
Pierre Poilievre declared himself a candidate for Canadian Prime Ministership even before the election process for Conservative leadership was announced. He had tweeted:
“Conservatives and Canadians are ready for a leader who will fight #JustinFlation and put them back in control of their lives. That’s why I’m running to be Prime Minister.” He has been a sitting MP since 2004.
Mr. Patrick Brown, 43-year-old mayor of Brampton, said that he underscored his potential to help the party make inroads in urban and suburban Canada. He enjoys immense popularity with the Punjabi community.
“I want people who have never voted Conservative and have voted for other parties to feel welcome in our family. I want people who have been turned off by recent Conservative infighting to get inspired and fight alongside me for a better vision for our country,” Mr. Brown said.
He has been a former federal Conservative MP and former leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. Ten months after he was forced out of the provincial PC, he became mayor of Brampton.
He has been vocal in criticizing Bill 21, the Quebec legislation that bars some public-sector employees, including teachers, from wearing visible religious symbols such as hijabs at work. In December, the City of Brampton, led by Mr. Brown, pledged $100,000 in financial support for the legal challenge to the law.
“When everyone else was silent against legislation that bans religious symbols, I fought to protect religious freedom,” Mr. Brown was quoted in media.
“No one should ever lose their job based on their faith and we must fight for equality of opportunity for every Canadian, no matter if they wear a turban, a cross, a hijab or a kippah because that is a Canadian value,” the media reports quoting him said.
* Prabhjot Singh is a veteran journalist with over three decades of experience covering a wide spectrum of subjects and stories. He has covered Punjab and Sikh affairs for more than three decades besides covering seven Olympics and several major sporting events and hosting TV shows. For more in-depth analysis please visit probingeye.com or follow him on Twitter.com/probingeye