by Ray Hudson
Sukh Dhaliwal, a Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor in BC, served as the Member of Parliament for Newton-North Delta from 2006 to 2011, when he was narrowly defeated by Jinny Sims of the NDP. But since leaving office he has been busy in the riding preparing for the next election on October 19, 2015.
When the writ is dropped, he will be contesting the new riding of Surrey Newton, redistribution having removed North Delta and added more Surrey real estate east to 144th Street. He spoke with Ray Hudson of the Asian Journal.
Asian Journal: What did you learn in the last four years, that you will take into the campaign?
Sukh Dhaliwal: During the last four years I was not sitting still. I was traveling around the riding talking to people and preparing to run again. It was also like maintaining a family relationship with my constituents, so I wanted to keep building on that. Besides, this is my home, my children live here, and my elderly parents live in the riding. And the issues that affect everyone else also affect me. Most of the population here is middle class, working in the small businesses in this riding. When I go and talk to them, I find it’s getting harder and harder for families to survive. We need policies that will focus on the average middle class, whether it’s the seniors who are retired, the people still working, or the small business owners. Those are the three groups most hurt by the Conservative agenda.
Asian Journal: Newton has had an amazing number of shooting incidents arising from a low level drug war. At the higher level we have those issues of national security as it impacts Newton as well. What are the feelings of the people of this riding?
Sukh Dhaliwal: It’s important, and I hear it everywhere I go and talk with people. They’re concerned about their children. Last night we were sitting in the White Spot across from Earls Restaurant when I heard the shots fired into their patio. Families are not feeling safe when these things are happening in our public restaurants, and Mr. Harper, over the last ten years, promised twenty-five hundred new police officers in his 2005 platform. But so far, he has delivered nothing, even though he’s saying now that he’s going to bring in 100 new officers into Surrey. We have to deal with this right now, and this requires two things: we have to have resources to allow our first responders to deal with these situations, and we have to have effective legislation that the police and the justice system can work together. We’ll have to spend more money educating and supporting our young people before they get into this gang activity. We need to keep them active in positive activities.
Asian Journal: Many people are quite upset about the sentence handed to the man who killed Julie Pascall outside the Newton arena, that six years for someone with his record is not adequate.
Sukh Dhaliwal: It’s very unfortunate. My son was playing the same tournament at that time, only in the morning, but our team was hosting that tournament. I say we have to have our resources in the community. Mr. Harper has totally ignored that. All he cares about is putting people behind bars and the legislation isn’t very well thought out. He brings in an omnibus bill so people cannot scrutinize what it’s all about. The elected representatives, irrespective of their political stripe, should critique that legislation and come up with laws that will be stronger and more effective.
On the national and international scene, with threats from terrorists, Bill C51 is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. From day one, Mr. Harper was saying ‘my way or the highway’ despite an outcry from the public who wanted to make sure their civil liberties are protected at the same time. From day one Justin Trudeau has said that Canadian safety and security is the top priority for Liberals. So we will make sure that we have the legislation so the agencies can make arrests easier, and lay charges or to deal with those situations. We will have better no-fly lists so the wrong people are not flying.
We need better coordination between the agencies. Existing laws are there but we still have to refine them to make sure that we give enough appropriate power to the police or CSIS to deal with the issues, while ensuring that people have the right to protest.
Finally, there should be an oversight agency that is elected by the people. Among Britain, New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada, we are the only country that doesn’t have oversight of its security agencies. This is not acceptable. I say, resources, legislation and rights, in balance.
Asian Journal: Last election we had a very strong surge by the NDP who took a lot of seats in Quebec and out here as well. Do you think that it will carry through to this election?
Sukh Dhaliwal: Outside of Quebec I think the NDP gained only two or three seats. In Surrey it was by a very small margin. Now I’m on the doorsteps and talking to people, and they’re fed up with Mr. Harper and the Conservatives and they want a change. They’re looking at Mr. Mulcair and the policies that the NDP have, as well as Justin Trudeau and the Liberal policies. Newton is a very diverse riding. Socially and economically, it’s working class and socially mixed. When I’m on the doorsteps, people are asking questions about Justin Trudeau and his policies because the Conservatives and the NDP are too far apart philosophically. Trudeau’s policies are balanced and in the middle.
Asian Journal: What are your views on the growing senior population and it’s impact on the economy?
Sukh Dhaliwal: People have worked throughout their lives and have paid their dues, and they should be able to retire with dignity. Mr. Harper has taken $30,000 from those aged 65 to 67, who are the most vulnerable in the society. Mr. Trudeau has said that we will move the retirement age back to 65. If I compare with other nations, either developing or developed, there is not a single country that has its retirement age at 67.
Asian Journal: What is your party planning with respect to taxation?
Sukh Dhaliwal: We will bring in a program called the Fairness Plan. We are going to help the middle class by reducing taxes from 22% to 20.5% for those with income of $45,000 to $95,000. This will amount to two to three billion dollars in tax breaks for average middle class families. On top of that, we will give a child allowance of $2,500 to many of those families. Finally, we will take away income splitting because it only helps 15% of the population who are making much more money. That is not what we want.
Asian Journal: Thank you.