Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Gateway to Sikhism

Gurbax Singh Malhi
first turbaned Sikh to become member of the Canadian Parliament

Gurbax Singh Malhi, PC, MP, BA (born October 12, 1949 to a Sikh family in Chugha Kalan, Punjab, India) is a Canadian politician. An Indo-Canadian Sikh, he is currently a member of the Canadian House of Commons, representing the riding of Bramalea—Gore—Malton for the Liberal Party.

Malhi was educated at Punjab University, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, English and History. He moved to Canada in 1974, and was initially a factory worker before becoming a real estate agent. He is also a founder-director of the Canadian-Sikh Cultural and Sports Centre, and was a volunteer member of the Peel Police Ethic Race Relations Committee, and served on the Parents' Advisory Council for Marvin Heights Public School in Mississauga.

He was first elected to parliament in the federal election of 1993, defeating Progressive Conservative incumbent Harry Chadwick and Reformer Darlene Florence in the BGM riding. He and fellow Liberal Herb Dhaliwal were the first two Canadian Sikhs elected to the Canadian House of Commons.

Malhi was also the first "turbaned Sikh" elected to parliament anywhere in the western world. Prior to 1993, Canadian law prohibited members of parliament from wearing headgear of any sort in the Commons. Malhi's insistence on wearing a turban caused the law to be changed shortly after the election.

Mahli was re-elected in the 1997 election over Florence and PC candidate Beryl Ford. In 1998, the riding's name was changed to Bramalea—Gore—Malton—Springdale.

He was re-elected with the greatest majority of his career in the 2000 election. He was again re-elected with a significant plurality over Conservative Raminder Singh Gill in the 2004 election, despite the fact that his riding was a key Conservative target.

Malhi is a devout religious Sikh, and has introduced numerous ceremonies of the Sikh religion to Parliament Hill (including the yearly Akhand Path ceremony and the hill's first ever Diwali celebration). He was also instrumental in having the government of Canada produce a Canada Post stamp bearing the Khanda Sahib symbol.

Malhi has also been critical of past human-rights abuses by the Indian government in Punjab. In 1995, he held an exhibition on parliament hill which drew attention to the Golden Temple riots ten years earlier. In 1997, he succeeded in having the Canadian government open a liaison office in Chandigarh.

When Paul Martin was sworn in as Prime Minister in late 2003, he appointed Malhi as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, with special emphasis on Entrepreneurs and New Canadians. After the 2004 election, he was named Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and later was named the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue.

Malhi was part of a Canadian delegation that visited India in early 2005, following the south asian tsunami of late 2004. Malhi also attempted to meet with 59 Punjabis being detained in Iran, but was denied a visa by the Iranian government.

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The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras.
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