Opinion: Brampton’s dwindling ranks in Ottawa a sign of waning influence
Published February 7, 2021 at 11:33 am
Brampton MP Ramesh Sangha’s recent ouster from the Liberal caucus is just the latest example of Brampton’s waning influence in the federal government.
Just days before another Brampton Liberal MP, Kamal Khera, had to relinquish her Parliamentary Secretary duties for a cabinet minister because she had travelled to visit an ailing family member while COVID-19 restrictions were in effect.
This isn’t to say the Opposition has avoided internal troubles within their ranks as well. Conservative MP Derek Sloan was voted out of his caucus by other members after it was revealed that a neo-Nazi, former Peel Region school teacher Paul Fromm, had donated to his 2020 leadership campaign, with Erin O’Toole initiating the removal process for Sloan himself.
While the reasons behind Khera’s demotion are debatable, Sangha’s ‘fall from grace’ is less muddy. Not only did he repeat unsubstantiated allegations of Khalistani separatist sympathies against one of his own colleagues, Navdeep Bains, who recently stepped down from cabinet citing family concerns, but Sangha did so on an ethnic media network in his native Punjabi, unaware that it would eventually be translated into English for the wider general public.
Sangha’s departure isn’t a great loss to the Liberal Party. Brampton Centre has been a reliably Liberal riding since it’s recreation in 2015 and another Liberal candidate would have no trouble holding the seat. The now former Liberal MP was never assigned any prominent role in the last two Parliaments unlike his other colleagues from Brampton.
During the 2015 election the Liberals swept into office, carrying all five Brampton ridings and held them all in the 2019 election. Promising new MPs such as Khera, Ruby Sahota (Brampton North) and Raj Grewal (Brampton East) had more facetime during the last five years and were given more important assignments than Sangha, who was little more than a “reliable vote” on the governing side.
Grewal has since left politics over an admitted gambling problem and other financial issues that prompted an RCMP probe. As a new MP, Maninder Sidhu, was only elected in Brampton East two years ago, so that would leave Sahota and Brampton South MP Sonia Sidhu as the only two members with an untainted voice when it comes to “fighting for Brampton.”
Sangha is 76 and it was highly unlikely that he would have become a Parliamentary Secretary, let alone a minister even without this controversy that ended his Liberal tenure. No doubt there will be an opportunity for Maninder and Sahota to grow and having fresh blood in other Brampton ridings would be a positive for those communities.
Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that this incident occurred to give Justin Trudeau the opportunity to clear out some ‘dead wood’ in favour of fresh, energetic voices in his ranks.
Alan Kan is a frequent contributor to inbrampton.cominsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies