At 26, Kamal Khera — a first-time MP from Brahmpton West — is the youngest to have won in the recent elections in Canada. Khera, who represents Canada’s ruling Liberal party is on a private visit to Punjab.
“Politics is a complete contrast in India and Canada. Though I am not much aware of the Indian system of politics, in Canada, freshers — especially youngsters like me — get a chance, politicians do retire at an age and they are more accessible,” she said. “Despite not having a political background, I am an MP. One needs to grab the opportunity and also needs to have passion to serve the society,” she added.
Khera is in Punjab for the wedding of her elder brother Gurminder Singh on November 29. The family had migrated to Canada 16 years ago.
On her entry into politics, Khera said, “I was working as a nurse in the oncology department of St Joseph’s Health Centre, apart from working as a community activist. I found that the gap between the rich and poor was increasing and to serve people in the true sense, I decided to be part of politics. I was approached by Liberal party leaders. Initially, I was reluctant but eventually, I made up my mind.” When asked about an evident difference between an Indian and a Canadian politician, she said, “My counterpart in India enters a place along with security personnel while I move freely.”
Raj Jhajj, who has been associated with the Liberal party since 1991, said, “Khera was more like a public figure as she was doing TV shows on Punjabi channels since she was a teenager, later she was associated with NGO Big Brother, Big Sister and was working for the uplift of the underprivileged. I was earlier constituency-in charge of Brahmption West but now I am in charge of North. However, we wanted a new face and looking at her activities, I approached her. And she grabbed the opportunity, though she had initially refused.”
Jhajj is also in Punjab to attend this wedding and Khera considers him her mentor.
Jhajj said, “In Canada, people do retire from politics and give a chance to fresh faces. Khera was elected, she does not have any political connection. This change also need to come about in India.”
Khera polled 58 per cent of the votes as against 28 per cent votes to her rival Ninder Thind. Khera said, “My constituency is a mix of immigrants from India, Africa and other communities and I want to work more for the middle-class community. This was my promise during campaign and I will be working on creating more job opportunities for them. To help in easing visa formalities for immigrants is also on our party’s agenda. Improvement in infrastructure is another top priority.”
Khera will be flying back to Canada on November 30 and the rest of the family will be return later. “The first session of the Canadian Parliament will be on December 3, so I have to be there,” she added.
Her mother Gursharan Kaur was the first to express reservations over Khera joining politics, “Politics is politics, be it India or Canada,” she said. However, her father Harminder Singh said, “Politics is transparent in Canada, accountability is much more than what we see in India and politicians are answerable to every statement they make. So I am happy that my young daughter took this step. I wish her good luck.”
The family is staying at their relative Surinder Kooner’s residence and Khera is in India after a gap of nine years.