MP Sangha expelled from caucus over ‘dangerous’ accusations against fellow Liberals


OTTAWA -- Brampton Centre MP Ramesh Sangha has been kicked out of the Liberal caucus for allegedly levelling unsubstantiated accusations against fellow Liberal MPs.

Government whip Mark Holland said in a statement Monday he was made aware late last week that Sangha had made "baseless and dangerous accusations against a number of his caucus colleagues."

Holland did not specify what those accusations entailed.

But Sangha last week gave a Punjabi-language interview to Y Media, a streaming news channel for the South Asian community in Canada, in which he criticized Sikh Liberal MP Navdeep Bains.

According to Baaz News, a Canadian-based news website catering to the Sikh and Punjabi community, Sangha said in the interview that Bains is an "extremist" who supports the creation of an independent Sikh homeland, known as Khalistan, in the Punjab region of India.

Sangha said Bains, who resigned from cabinet earlier this month because he does not intend to seek re-election, was not fit to be a minister, according to Baaz News.

Sangha did not immediately respond to a request for an interview.

"As we have made clear time and time again, we will not tolerate conspiracy theories, or dangerous and unfounded rhetoric about parliamentarians or other Canadians," Holland said in the statement, adding that he consulted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before taking "the necessary steps" to eject Sangha from the caucus.

"Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for many Canadians to experience suspicions because of their background; we all know where this can lead.

"The Liberal caucus continues to stand firm against racism and intolerance."

Holland declined to specify what Sangha said to merit his removal from caucus.

But he said: "We live in a time where we have a clear understanding today that lies and the spreading of false information has real-life consequences.

"It is utterly unacceptable to do to anybody, to spread false information for the purposes of mischaracterizing who they are ... It is a terrible thing to do to any human being. It is an egregious thing to do to a fellow teammate."

Sangha, a lawyer first elected as a Liberal MP in 2015, has in the past accused his party of pandering to Sikh separatists.

Just before the 2019 federal election, the National Post reported that Sangha had given a Punjabi-language interview in which he suggested Trudeau's Sikh cabinet ministers are Khalistani separatists.

Indian officials have levelled the same charge, which the Trudeau government has adamantly denied.

Before Trudeau's ill-fated trip to India in 2018, Amarinder Singh, the Punjab state governor, accused Sikh members of Trudeau's cabinet of being separatist extremists and refused to meet Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Singh did eventually meet Trudeau and Sajjan during the prime minister's state visit and seemed mollified by Trudeau's assurances that his government is staunchly opposed to Khalistani separatism.

However, the issue flared again when it later emerged that Jaspal Atwal had been invited to two official events with the prime minister during his India trip. Atwal had been convicted of attempting to assassinate a Punjab minister during a 1986 visit to British Columbia.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press

Cover photo courtesy of Ramesh Sangha via Instagram

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