As Canada gears for elections, here's why Indian-Canadians are set to play crucial role 

New Delhi, India Edited By: Sparshita SaxenaUpdated: Sep 14, 2019, 12:49 PM IST
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Jagmeet's New Democratic Party occupies 44 seats in Canada's Parliament, behind the Liberals' 184, and the Conservatives' 99. Photograph:(Reuters)

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This year's Canadian election will be closely watched for another reason - a record number of candidates of Indian origin will feature in the polls. 

Canada is in election mode and Indians are in the focus. Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off his re-election bid. 

A long and intense period of campaigning lies ahead of him. The election is on October 21 and the world is watching the political rise of Indian-Canadians. 

Indian-Canadians are one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in the country with the trend to remain strong for the foreseeable future.  

In 2018, almost 40, 000 Indian citizens took permanent residency of Canada - 43 per cent of the total residencies granted. This reflects that 43 per cent of legal migrants to Canada last year were Indians.

Canada - immigration friendly

Canada has an ageing population. Senior citizens outnumbered children in 2017. The Canadian government, therefore, looked outside for younger and educated people to make up a new workforce.  

It opened its doors for the immigrants. This election is set to be a test for that 'open-door' policy. 

Trudeau's liberal values, personal charm and large supporter base ensured that he was elected with an outright majority in 2015. But in the last couple of years, blunders within his administration have punctured Trudeau's popularity.

Jagmeet Singh

This year's Canadian election will be closely watched for another reason. A record number of candidates of Indian origin will feature in these polls. 

An official confirmation is still awaited but the final number could be as high as 50 candidates of Indian origin. 

Last time around, 19 Indian Canadians from Trudeau's liberal party had won the election. 18 of them were of Punjabi origin with five women candidates. 

Kicking off a six-week-long campaign recently, Justin Trudeau said, "Beyond the liberals, people will have their eyes on one candidate in particular. Jagmeet Singh - the leader of Canada's New Democratic Party. He could very well emerge as the kingmaker in this two-sided contest".

Singh is the first non-white contender to lead a major political party in Canada and he has made some ambitious promises. But, India should be worried about Canada's rising political star as Jagmeet Singh is seen as a Khalistan sympathiser. 

Growing number of Indians in Canada

According to the 2015 census, one in five Canadians today was born outside the country as a citizen of another country. As of 2017, the maximum number of immigrants in Canada were Indians.

India tops the list when it comes to the immigrant population in Canada by the country of birth, China comes second. 

These numbers are significant. People of Indian origin can make or break elections in Canada. This explains why a person of Indian origin, Jagmeet Singh, is one of the candidates in the fray for the post of the Canadian prime minister.

This also explains why Trudeau always flaunts his fondness for Indians.

While Singh's presence could derail Trudeau this time, he is not likely to win. Singh will be the kingmaker, cutting into Trudeau's votes.

If that happens, it would mean that immigration - Trudeau's go-to political ploy, has failed.