Helping the public is in my nautre
As the owner of Parihar & Associates Chartered Professional Accountants since 2004, Gurminder Singh Parihar has the pulse of the Surrey-Newton business community, and is seeking to turn that experience into a Liberal seat in the Legislature. He spoke with Ray Hudson.
Gurminder Parihar: I have been involved in this business community for a long time. I’ve been living here for twenty-five years, doing business for fifteen, and over the time period have made a lot of friends. I’ve seen businesses growing, and from there I’ve been developing ideas and issues that are important to Surrey-Newton residents. My friends, family and business clients encouraged me to run so we can find solutions for Surrey. That’s the reason I’ve put myself forward to serve the community.
Ray Hudson: What are the local issues of Surrey Newton?
Gurminder Parihar: Crime is one issue right now, and to protect the kids from the drugs and gangs we need to bring more resources to counter the problem. We have failed to do so for the past twelve years because nobody has raised a voice in Victoria on behalf of the Surrey-Newton residents, because there has been a lot of politics being played here. The MLA was too busy with provincial politics rather than the politics of Surrey residents and what their needs are. Another issue is education, where we have over twelve-hundred residents moving into Surrey every month. This means the demand is for all facilities is strong and growing.
Ray Hudson: Are there enough school facilities to deal with the new students coming in to Surrey Newton?
Gurminder Parihar: The government has recently invested heavily into Surrey, but we need more in Surrey-Newton. The population is growing too rapidly and these facilities can’t be built overnight. So if a newcomer starts school today it’s going to take three years before a school is completed. We have to find a solution. The students do need proper facilities but least we have portables where kids can be schooled in the meantime. That’s most important.
Ray Hudson: You say we need better medical services. Surrey Memorial was just recently upgraded and it’s already overloaded. What more is needed?
Gurminder Parihar: We do need more facilities to accommodate the population, but we also need to look at other solutions that will free up our doctors. They can’t be produced overnight, so we need our Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners to take some of the basic functions from doctors so they can spend more time in the hospitals.
We’ve had a lot of immigration and there must be medical people among them, so we need to get them upgraded so they can practice their professions as well. It is a federal issue, but every professional body has its own regulations, and everyone has to meet the standards, which depends on the medical college itself, because it’s not under the government’s jurisdiction.
Ray Hudson: You’re a first-time candidate, running against a long term incumbent. How do you assess this challenge?
Gurminder Parihar: I think Surrey residents are very wise and they realize after twelve years of having an opposition MLA, they will want to elect an MLA who is going to be part of the government so they can get their issues resolved. I’m here to deal with those issues, not to play politics. I’m not a job seeker. I’m here to serve the community and I think people have realized that. They are very intelligent and can make their own decisions. I think the message is getting out there that change is coming to Surrey Newton.
Ray Hudson: You’re a new candidate, so what do the people of Surrey Newton need to know about you as a person?
Gurminder Parihar: I’m a people person and I’m always there to help. Even through my business I’ve helped a lot of kids when they were trying to establish their career. I give them training as well. Sometimes I have elderly people walk into my office, and even though they don’t have much money I help them solve their problems.
For the youth, we have established a program in an organization that a friend of mine runs. It’s called Bisla Martial Arts. We give them training throughout the year, and we organize events. Basically it’s a non-profit organization, where we put our own money in. The objective is to keep the young kids off the street and away from drugs, while they learn discipline from positive role modelling. This is something we can do for the kids to keep them on the right path.
As another example of my interest in helping community, about four weeks ago, even before I was a candidate, I was approached by trucking companies that handle containers, because of my connections with government. They wanted me to help them resolve their dispute over access to the Port. We’re talking about five or six companies employing twenty-four hundred direct and indirect employees, who were ready to shut down because their wait time fees weren’t being paid. I arranged a meeting with Todd Stone, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, and within four hours we had the solution. We didn’t get everything we requested but we’ll get everything else resolved.
As I said, helping the public is in my nature, for anybody who asks for help. This is why I’ll be so well suited to be the MLA for Surrey Newton. and not just to run my own business.