On Monday, 17 Indo-Canadians won parliamentary elections in Canada, including New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, with Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau returning to power. The elections have once again demonstrated the influence of the Indian diaspora in the country. Indian-Canadians, according to Statistics Canada, are one of the fastest-growing communities in the country, accounting for the second-largest non-European group behind Chinese Canadians. The Indian diaspora in Canada is the world’s eighth-largest.
The provinces of Ontario and British Columbia have the biggest percentages of Indian Canadians, followed by expanding groups in Alberta and Quebec, with the majority of them being foreign-born. According to a Forbes article, the number of Indians who become permanent residents in Canada surged by more than 105 percent from 39,340 in 2016 to 80,685 in 2019. With such a large population, it’s no wonder that the community has strong political representation. In the 2019 federal elections, 23 Indo-Canadians were elected as MPs, compared to 21 in 2015, 18 of whom had Punjab ties.
In the 2021 parliamentary elections, 17 Indo-Canadians were elected, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Anita Anand, and Bardish Chagger, as well as Jagmeet Singh, the 42-year-old leader of the New Democratic Party. Jagmeet Singh made history in 2017 when he became the first non-white head of a federal political party in Canada.
Since 1904, when the first documented immigrants from the Indian subcontinent came to Vancouver and carved out a niche for themselves, things have changed dramatically. Today, the situation is completely different, with a large number of Indians traveling to Canada in search of better work opportunities and a better life in general. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada had a low unemployment rate of 5.67 percent, making it a desirable destination for immigrants. Furthermore, university tuition prices in Canada are 27 percent less expensive than in the United States. Canada is also regarded as one of the safest countries in the world. In 2021, the Global Peace Index ranked Canada as the world’s sixth safest country. Internal disputes, crime rates, and political stability all scored high marks for Canada. The country is also known for having some of the world’s friendliest people. The crime rate is roughly one-third that of its neighbor, the United States (1.6 incidents per 100,000 vs. 4.5 incidents per 100,000).
In a Gallup poll conducted in 2018, 84 percent of Canadians said they felt safe in their nation. Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network’s World Happiness Report 2020 ranked Canada as the world’s eleventh “happiest” country, ahead of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Many people relate the dramatic surge in Indian immigration to Canada to the difficulties Indians encounter in obtaining or revising their H-1B visas in the United States.
According to Forbes Magazine, “Canada is benefiting from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from US destinations, largely due to the challenges of acquiring and renewing H-1B visits and finding a reliable route to US permanent residence,” Peter Rekai, founder of Toronto-based immigration law firm Rekai LLP, said.
Canada has traditionally considered immigration as a means of boosting population, economic, and cultural expansion. Unlike the United States, where immigration causes significant political strife, Canada has a broad consensus on the benefits of immigration, particularly for tackling the issues of an aging population and a low birth rate. However, there are requests in Canada to diversify the country’s migratory pool, with more nations other than India represented. These voices, though, remain in the minority. No major political party has suggested country-based quotas like those in the United States so far.