SAN Questionnaire: NDP Leadership 2012

admin March 17, 2012 31 Comments
SAN Questionnaire: NDP Leadership 2012

Those Who Did Not Respond:

 Those Who Did Respond:


How do you envision the NDP carrying on the legacy of Jack Layton, Human Rights and how will you continue to work with us on the 1984 Sikh Genocide?


How do you envision the NDP carrying on the legacy of Jack Layton, Human Rights and how will you continue to work with us on the 1984 Sikh Genocide?

In response to a similar question, I issued a written statement on the 1984 events, which you can find here: (website link)

I strongly share Jack’s commitment to a hopeful and optimistic approach to politics, and to his commitment to peace and justice. We can’t replace Jack, but we can carry on his work — including on these issues.


The invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex and the organized pogrom and massacre of Sikhs in 1984 is a black mark on our collective history. Justice has been denied, compounding the pain caused by the massacre itself. I worked with Jack in promoting reconciliation and demanding explanations for why this community was targeted by organized mobs and government officials. I will continue that work.

I chaired the All-Party Committee on the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. We always say “never again”, but only with remembrance, recognition, education and reconciliation can we truly prevent future massacres and genocides. We will always stand in solidarity with you.


Jack Layton was a long-time ally of the Sikh community and I plan on continuing his leadership in that regard. His courageous stance in denouncing the 1984 pogroms and the subsequent lack of accountability from the authorities is one that I will pursue. It is essential to continue advocating for Sikh human rights and for justice for the families of the victims of the June and November killings. We have both a duty of remembrance as well as a duty to ask for accountability for our Sikh brothers and sisters who are still suffering from these tragic events. It’s essential to support healing and empowerment of the community though discussion and commemoration of these events.


The NDP has a proud history on human rights. This has included Chinese-Canadians, Japanese-Canadians, opposing the War Measures Act and Alexa McDonough’s brave fight for Maher Arar. Like Jack Layton, I would work hard to oppose violence and injustice and as Prime Minister would be a voice for human rights, justice for those who commit atrocities like the temple in 1984.



What role do you see Sikh youth playing in the NDP if you become the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and how will you facilitate this process?

The NDP has a strong and deepening relationship with Canada’s Sikh community, and one we will and must build on in partnership if we are to succeed.  I support a strong and sustained outreach program designed to build on our relationships with key stakeholders — an important one being your community.

That is about inviting the community to a careful discussion about our policies and priorities as we prepare for government. And that is about working together as partners on organization and party-building — including an open door to Sikh youth.


During the last federal election, I was inspired to see Sikh youth working with out fantastic candidate Jagmeet Singh. They put in tremendous effort, running the strongest campaign we’ve ever run in the riding. They rallied behind him again and got him elected as the first Sikh NDP MPP in Peel history. I was proud to help by knocking on doors and being involved.

I’m determined to win the Next 70 seats we need to form government. But I can’t do it without you. I will hire a youth organizer and implement an outreach campaign to diverse communities including the Sikh community. Sikh youth nationwide will be organizers, activists and candidates, helping us win in many seats in Ontario and BC so that we form government in 2015.


Sikh youth would have an important role in the NDP under my leadership. Sikh youth have already written a page of the NDP’s recent history by electing Jagmeet Singh as an MPP after a strong 2nd place finish federally. This is a testament to the impact Sikh youth can have in our party. We have to learn from the different methods of grassroot organising that are effective within various religious or cultural communities. I have been an organiser all of my life and I know the importance of involving people who represent, understand, and share the concerns of the community one is trying to engage.


As the only candidate for leader who ran in every election with Jack Layton, one of the changes I like most is how our party increasingly reflects Canada. In my own riding, which has a diverse population that includes a high proportion of First Nations, I know how important it is to reflect the community. It’s how politicians appreciate real issues and hopes. As leader, I would actively work to make our doors and ears open to as many as possible—and would welcome the energy and ideas of Sikh youth wholeheartedly.

If you had to choose one figure from contemporary Sikh history that you feel embodied the principles of the NDP who would that be and why?

If you had to choose one figure from contemporary Sikh history that you feel embodied the principles of the NDP who would that be and why?
I find myself thinking of Bhagat Singh, one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. We are about building a “society of friends” too — a country that cares about all of its citizens, views all of its communities as Canadian, and puts people first.


From my discussions with Sikhs, one individual who has earned my respect is Jaswant Singh Khalra for his fearless and courageous work on human rights and justice. His life has taught me that no matter what, we’re not powerless. And his work and effort earned him recognition from Amnesty International as a human rights defender. He presented cases of missing and disappeared Sikhs in Punjab and gave a voice to the voiceless. He even shared his findings with politicians in Ottawa and with Canadians. I feel his core as a Sikh reflects the NDP values of truth, justice and resilience.


Bhagat Puran Singh : His devotion to helping the most vulnerable in society and his advocacy for environmental sustainability certainly embodies the values of the NDP. His deep commitment to social justice is an inspiration for many, and the strong, principled stances he has taken throughout his life should guide our party as we aspire to form government and remain true to our principles.


As a marathoner, I was deeply inspired by Fauja Singh, the 100-year-old who finished the Toronto marathon last year. His determination and grace were incredible. He faced great odds and beat them, just like the NDP. I also read a story about Balbir Singh Seechewal, who got a team of volunteers to clean up an entire river. As an environmentalist who believes in community empowerment, I salute him getting to work fixing problems he sees.



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  1. Singh May 30, 2012 at 5:50 am

    Our Sikhs..showing egotistic emotions, argueing over meaningless and showing un-unity like remarks to other Sikhs..Please I beg everyone, please learn to speak out of love and kindness, make sure your strength is coming from the right places within you. A shift in communication and understanding ways is needed if we are ever to be prosperous. And by we, I mean, mankind. Knowledge is power, the more the more intelligent, and there are many types of knowledge, one of the most important in my opinion is – personal knowledge.

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