Eight Indo-Canadians on Canadian PM’s India delegation

Toronto, Nov 15 (Inditop.com) Lacking a majority in Canada’s House of Commons, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits India from Monday with a delegation of eight prominent Indo-Canadians, fuelling speculation that he is eyeing valuable Punjabi and Gujarati votes.

Unlike his predecessors, who took huge Indian-Canadian delegations to India, Harper’s entourage is smaller.

“Unlike Jean Chretien and Paul Martin of the Liberal Party who took big Indian delegations with them in 2003 and 2005, Harper has opted for just a few prominent Indo-Canadians,” an official source told Inditop.

“He has invited only those who can contribute to his mission,” the source, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, added.

The prime minister’s Conservative Party is eagerly wooing ethnic communities, including the Indo-Canadians, who traditionally vote for the Liberal Party. The ruling party is just short of a majority in the 308-member House of the Commons. Indo-Canadian votes could make a huge difference to its fortunes next time.

Though the ruling party has four Punjabi MPs, they all come from western Canada. The party has failed to make a dent in the Punjabi-dominated constituencies in the Toronto suburbs of Brampton and Mississauga.

These constituencies are represented by three Sikh MPs – Navdeep Bains, Ruby Dhalla and Gurbax Malhi – all belonging to the Liberal Party. The prime minister’s party almost came close to snatching the seat from Dhalla in the last elections in 2008.

Since Sikhs and Gujaratis have a huge presence in the Greater Toronto Area (comprising Toronto city and its satellite towns) where the ruling party is way behind the opposition, the prime minister’s visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Akshardam Temple could be aimed at wooing these communities.