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Canada Tim Uppal Becomes Canada‘s First Turbaned Sikh-Canadian Cabinet Minister


Jun 1, 2004
Edmonton MP Tim Uppal becomes the first-ever turbaned Sikh to become a Federal Minister in a country other than India.
By R. Paul Dhillon With News Files

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed his party’s first turbaned Sikh-Canadian MP Tim Uppal to a bloated cabinet that also saw another Indo-Canadian newcomer from Toronto Bal Gosal make it to cabinet, showing that the Conservatives realize that they need to retain the powerful Indo-Canadian community vote for future elections.

The perennial loser when it comes to ministerial appointments Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai was again snubbed by Harper despite heavy lobbying by Obhrai and his supporters. It either shows that Obhrai is incompetent or Harper doesn‘t think much of the veteran MP to appoint him to cabinet.
Even though both Uppal, who has been given Minister of State for Democratic Reforms portfolio, and Gosal, who gets losing Vancouver Island MP Gary Lunnès old Minister of State for Sports post, have been given junior portfolios but it shows that Conservative feel that they need more colour around the cabinet table to show that they can be as diverse as the Liberals who have appointed a number of Indo-Canadian MP to cabinet, including the very first Indo-Canadian federal minister Herb Dhaliwal.

Tim Uppal becomes the first-ever turbaned Sikh to become a Federal Minister in a country other than India.

Uppal, who has been elected for the second time from Edmonton-Sherwood, earlier served on the standing committees for Health, Citizenship and Immigration. He also worked as senior adviser with the Conservative Party of Canada.

He has a long history of community involvement. He was named The Outstanding Young Edmontonian for 2005 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce . He was awarded an Alberta Centennial Medallion from the Government of Alberta.

He was a member of the Capital Health Community Council and the City of Edmonton Chief of Police Advisory Council. Uppal and his wife, Kiran, have one daughter.

First time MP Gosal, who defeated six-time MP Gurbax Singh Malhi from Bramalea-Gore-Malton and newcomer Jagmeet Singh of the New Democratic Party, has worked as a commercial insurance broker. He has been a member of the Peel Regional Police Services Board and Peel Children’s Aid Society and has served as a member of the Brampton Board of Trade Marketing Committee.

Gosal and his wife, Pawanjit, have three children and live in Brampton.
There was talk of four-time MP Nina Grewal, elected from Fleetwood-Port Kells with an impressive margin, and Parm Gill, who defeated glamour girl Ruby Dhalla (Liberal) in Brampton-Springdale, being made ministers but they were long shots as Grewal is not considered minister material and Gill will have to show that he is capable of being a minister. There wasn‘t many changes from Harper‘s old cabinet with one exception that of Government House leader John Baird becoming the country’s top diplomat as foreign affairs minister, replacing Lawrence Cannon, who was defeated in the May 2 election. Peter Van Loan takes over from Baird as government House leader.

While Jason Kenney, who was credited with organizing the ethnic vote, remains at Citizenship and Immigration, he’s been given additional responsibilities. He will now chair the powerful cabinet committee on operations, which helps shape government strategy and planning.
There are 39 ministers, one more than before his shuffle. It’s now bigger than the 38-minister cabinet of former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, whom Harper once suggested had too many in his ranks.

That brought immediate cries of hypocrisy from critics and opposition house leader Jack Layton who slammed Harper for boosting the size of cabinet while moving forward with an austerity program to cut billions of dollars in government spending.



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