By Prabhjot Singh*
The South Asian community of Ontario has every reason to feel pleased about its performance in the Provincial Parliament elections as it rallied behind the incumbent Progressive Conservatives to record a historic two-third majority.
Thirteen of the community representatives got a favourable mandate to sit in the 43rd Ontario Assembly, thus improving upon its previous tally of 12. While 11 of these newly elected members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament belong to the ruling Progressive Conservatives, both NDP and Liberals draw consolations by sending one member each.
The successful Progressive Conservative candidates of the South Asian community include all 9 incumbents who sought re-election besides two new faces – Hardeep Singh Grewal and Pasma Chandra.
Hardeep Grewal caused an upset by defeating incumbent Gurratan Singh of NDP from Brampton East. Gurratan Singh is the younger brother of Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. Intriguingly, Jagmeet had represented this Riding twice while Gurratan Singh succeeded in the 2018 election.
Other than Gurratan Singh, another prominent loser from the South Asian community has been Sara Sigh, also of NDP, and the first migrant of Indo-Caribbean descent to sit in Ontario Assembly.
Pasma Chandra has been declared successful from Ottawa West.
Doly Begum, the first woman of Bangladeshi origin to sit in the Ontario Assembly, is become the only NDP candidate of South Asian descent to be re-elected this time.
Dr Adil Shamji, who won from Don Valley East, is the only Liberal candidate of South Asian descent to be successful in this election.
The new members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament of the South Asian descent are Parm Gill (Milton), Hardeep Grewal (Brampton East), Prabhmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South),Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West), Kaleed Rasheed (Mississauga East-Cooksville), Deepak Anand (Mississauga-Malton), Nina Tangri (Mississauga-Streetsville), Dr Adil Shamji (Don Valley East), Vijay Thanigasalam (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Doly Begum (Scarborough-Southwest), Logan Kanapathi (Markham Thornhill), Goldie Ghamari (Carleton) and Pasma Chandra (Ottawa West),
Interestingly, 11 of the 13 successful South Asian legislators represent Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and only two – Goldie Ghamari (Carleton) and Pasma Chandra (Ottawa West) are from outside.
The incumbent Progressive Conservatives made clean sweeps in the Punjabis dominated Peel Region by winning all 12 seats (six of the winners are of Punjabi descent). It also made a clean sweep in the York Region by winning all 10 seats. In the Halton region, too, it won all five and among winners is Parm Gill who had earlier represented the party in the House of Commons as MP. Parm was a Minister in the previous Doug Ford government also.
In Toronto Region, Progressive Conservatives could win only 12 of 25 seats. It is from this Region that South Asians will be represented by one legislator each of the ruling Conservatives, NDP and Liberals.
Although Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives cruised to another majority victory in the just concluded elections, it appears a majority of Ontarians did not bother to make their voices heard.
The Elections Ontario, while revealing statistics said that of 10,760,433 eligible voters of the province only 43.03 percent exercised their right to franchise. It marks the lowest number ever for a provincial election in Ontario.
The previous low was 48 per cent in 2011. Ontario had witnessed a significantly higher voter turnout in the 2018 election, with 57 per cent of eligible voters casting a ballot.
The Conservatives received just over 40 per cent of the votes cast, with the NDP and Liberals combining for nearly 47 per cent. The incumbent Premier Doug Ford and his Progressive Conservatives received support from only 18 per cent of the more than 10 million eligible voters in the province.
According to Elections Ontario, votes polled by main contesting parties was as follows:
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario – 1,912,648 (40.84%)
New Democratic Party of Ontario – 1,111,112 (23.72%)
Ontario Liberal Party – 1,117,041 (23.85%)
Green Party of Ontario – 279,172 (5.96%)
More than a million Ontarians had voted during the advanced polling indicating a significant increase from the previous election in 2018. Nearly 10 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballot in the 10 days of advance voting.
Elections Ontario also says it sent a record more mail-in ballots to voters this time around. Voting kits were sent out to 126,135 eligible voters showing a sharp increase from 2018 when only 15,202 ballots were mailed out.
Doug Ford won not only a second successive majority but got an overwhelming two-third majority with 83 seats in a House of 124. While Doug Ford was re-elected as leader of the new PC Legislature Party for his second term as Premier, two of his main rivals – Andrea Horwath (NDP) and Del Duca (Liberals) submitted their resignations.
Andrea Horwath was re-elected to represent Hamilton Centre, but in an emotional speech, after her election, announced her decision to step down after four terms as a leader of the Ontario New Democrats despite the party regaining Official Opposition status with 31 seats, nine fewer than the previous time.
Del Duca also tendered his resignation in his post-election speech as the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party after losing to PC incumbent Michael Tibolo in the riding of Vaughan-Woodbridge.
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