Amrik Virk at Radio Red FM radiothon for Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Family Birthing Unit. Photo by Chandra Bodalia
B.C. Liberals are bending over backwards to convince high-profile Langley RCMP Inspector Amrik Virk to run from the Surrey-Tynehead riding.
The Liberals currently have only one South Asian candidate and they are finding it hard to get any well-known South Asians to run in the next election. Ironically, the unceremonious way in which they dumped Abbotsford Councillor Moe Gill in the Abbotsford South riding to parachute in a white candidate has only ended up angering the South Asian community.
According to the RCMP website, Virk joined the RCMP in 1987 and spent the first 14 years of his service in a number of communities in Alberta. He served the next five years in Surrey and has been in Langley since 2006. He brings a very wide range of experience to Langley having served in some of the smallest detachments in the RCMP, to the largest.
Virk earned his BA in Economics and History from Simon Fraser University. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation and was appointed to the Board of Governors of Kwantlen Polytechnic University in the summer of 2008. He holds a black belt in karate, and is the recipient of the RCMP Long Service Medal, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery.
Virk is well respected in the South Asian community and just last month he played a leading role in the Radio Red FM’s annual radiothon that collected more than $715,000 for Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Family Birthing Unit.
If Virk decides to run, it would help burnish the Liberals’ image in the South Asian community.
Jas Cheema
On the other hand, many would advise him not to enter the dirty game of politics that has already harmed many high-profile South Asians.
Virk will probably wait and see who wins the NDP nomination in that riding before he makes a decision to run.
Sources say that former MLA Brenda Locke might decide to run from this riding and is reportedly carrying out a poll to see if it would be worthwhile. Locke was also the federal Liberal candidate in this area in 2006 and 2008 federal elections, but lost to Nina Grewal (Conservative) both times.
MEANWHILE, there is a tussle between two South Asians in the Surrey-Fleetwood riding (where NDP’s Jagrup Brar is the MLA) for the Liberal nomination. Sources say that Sukh Dhaliwal, the Liberal candidate who was parachuted in the Surrey-Panorama riding, wants Radio Punjab talk show host Kuljeet Kaur Mander as the Liberal candidate. But some say she is rather controversial and the party may not want to take a risk.
Gurpreet Singh Thind also wants to run in that riding and has sent a letter of intent to the party.
Sources also say that the party offered Thind the Surrey-Green Timbers riding, but as the NDP MLA Sue Hammell is considered to be a sure-shot winner there, he did not want to run from that riding.
But defeating Jagrup Brar is not going to be easy either. In the May 2009 election, Brar got 49.9% of the vote (8,543 votes) as compared to the Liberal candidate Jagmohan Singh’s 39.1% (6,687 votes). Everybody is wondering what Jagmohan Singh is up to this time?
Narima dela Cruz
THE NDP, on the other hand, have a large number of South Asian candidates besides their MLAs Harry Bains, Raj Chouhan, Jagrup Brar and Harry Lali, who command a great deal of support in both the South Asian and mainstream communities.
Other South Asian candidates so far: Bobby Deepak (Prince George-Mackenzie), Sukhi Dhami (Abbotsford West), Lakhvider Jhaj (Abbotsford South) and Amrik Mahil (Surrey-Panorama).
The NDP received a setback in the Surrey-Tynehead riding when high-profile candidate Raj Hundal dropped out suddenly last October.
Sources tell Asian Journal that it had nothing do with an unsavoury PNE incident back in 2009, but involved a domestic problem.
Sources say that Raj Hundal had signed up a large number of members and they were allegedly insisting on imposing their own candidate as his replacement, but the party refused to oblige them.
The NDP encouraged some South Asian candidates to sign up members after that, but then suddenly told them to forget it.
After the Asian Journal wrote about the possibility of the NDP parachuting a candidate and the resentment that would create especially after the scandalous Moe Gill episode, sources say the NDP relented and informed the candidates that a nomination vote would take place on February 9.
Those vying for the nomination include well-known community activist Jas Cheema. She has a Masters in Intercultural and International Communications, and is the Leader of Diversity Services for Fraser Health Authority where she is responsible for implementing diversity programs across the region. She owns her own diversity / intercultural communications consulting business, and is a columnist with the Surrey North Delta Leader and South Asian Journal.
The other two South Asians are Avtar Bains and Dhama Sahota, a notary public.
But as the South Asians split up their votes, the person who could very well win the nomination is Filipino-Canadian Narima dela Cruz who has reportedly signed up a large number of Filipino-Canadian supporters and the Filipino media have been projecting her as a possible second Filipino MLA (after Mable Elmore of Vancouver-Kensington).
Dela Cruz, who immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 1998, is the president and founding director of the Surrey Philippine Independence Day Society (SPIDS), an organization of Filipino-Canadians in Surrey and surrounding cities. Dela Cruz, who’s a licensed realtor, is also an active volunteer of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., OPTIONS Community Services (as language translator), and many different Filipino-Canadian organizations. Her professional and educational background in the Philippines revolved around tourism, office management, education, and law.
MEANWHILE, the B.C. Conservatives finally woke up to the South Asian factor with leader John Cummins announcing on Wednesday that Surrey businessman Garry Grewal will be the party’s manager of their South Asian community outreach program.
Cummins said: “Garry has been an enthusiastic supporter of the BC Conservatives for a very long time. It’s great that he has agreed to join our team and take on the challenging task of community outreach.”
Born in Vancouver, Grewal obtained a diploma in International Business from Langara Community College before owning and operating his own gas station in Surrey.
He has been active in municipal, provincial and federal politics for more than a decade, and has held key campaign roles with federal Conservative candidates in B.C. in each election since 2000.