Former Liberal MP and cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal. (Photo: Submitted).

Vikram Bajwa joins Liberal leadership race, Herb Dhaliwal might

Bajwa has run for office unsuccessfully in Surrey, Dhaliwal was a Liberal MP in the Chretien era

Two more familiar names in the political game have their eye on replacing Christy Clark as the next leader of the B.C. Liberal Party.

Two-time Surrey mayoralty candidate Vikram Bajwa has decided to run and former Liberal MP/cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal is contemplating taking the leap.

“A number of people have approached me and asked me to consider running and I said I will think about it, give it serious consideration, but no decision has been made yet, no final decision,” Dhaliwal said. “Probably in the next couple of weeks I’ll make my decision.”

Dhaliwal, 64, was the Liberal MP for Vancouver South from 1993 to 1997 and served in Jean Chretien’s cabinet as minister of revenue (1997), ministry of fisheries and oceans (1999), minister of natural resources (2002) and was B.C.’s senior Liberal MP.

“All big files with B.C.,” he said. “I enjoyed my 10 years when I was a member of parliament.”

Dhaliwal was also Canada’s first cabinet minister who had been born in India.

“I’ve played a big role in B.C. and if I run it will basically be to make British Columbia a better province and working on issues important to me, like climate change,” Dhaliwal said.

Meantime, seven others, including former Surrey mayor and current Tory MP Dianne Watts, have announced they’re seeking the job. If she wins, and gets elected, Watts will complete the Canadian political trifecta having served as mayor, MP and MLA.

Bajwa unsuccessfully sought the Liberal MLA candidacy in the Surrey-Tynehead riding back in 2012. Amrik Virk eventually got the nod from the B.C. Liberals and won in 2013.

Aside from provincial politics, Bajwa also unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Surrey in 2011 and 2014.

He hopes that with Clark gone from the Liberals, he will no longer be “blacklisted” by the party, he said, for having confronted her on the so-called Ethno-gate scandal.

READ ALSO: Bajwa cites crime, wards and economy as key municipal issues

“We were really upset to see what Clark was doing to the ethnic communities,” Bajwa said. “I asked for her resignation, and after that, she had a grudge.”

Bajwa referenced Clark’s “Ethnicgate” scandal from 2013, where a memo was leaked to the public regarding Clark’s strategy to “woo” ethnic voters.

“Everybody suffered during her five-year reign,” he said. “It looks like the Liberals now want to move in a fairly new chapter. It’s the reason why they lost all of those votes in the last election.”

For Bajwa, the current issues revolve around putting pressure on current B.C. Premier John Horgan.

“It’s not a question of changes, but Horgan promised a lot of things. They can’t deliver short term.

“The NDP promised us another hospital, which they need to deliver. They want to hire 3,500 teachers. How do they plan on doing that in the next year? They need to be held accountable on their promises.”

One of Bajwa’s ideas that made headlines during the 2014 municipal election was the idea of bringing an international airport to Surrey. It’s a proposal he still promotes.

“We could use an international airport in Surrey,” says Bajwa. There’s a lot of land around the border. If they would expand the capabilities of international airports in the Lower Mainland, it would bring in a lot of revenue.”

Aside from his proposed policies, Bajwa takes inspiration from Jagmeet Singh’s campaign ahead of being named the leader of the federal NDP.

“Jagmeet has this campaign of love and courage,” said Bajwa. “Our B.C. campaign should be “let’s move forward.”

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