Good Community Politics + Turbans = Bad Ethnic Politics?

Its a dark and story night in northern Alberta city of Edmonton. Preparing for a national election that is still months away, the Conservative Party’s riding association in Edmonton-Sherwood is having its nomination meeting. Its not expected to be eventful, as everyone expected local municipal councillor Jacquie Fenske to win by acclamation. On the last day, a young man walks in with his supporters and also declares his intentions to contest the riding on behalf of the Conservative party. He happens to come prepared with more supporters than the surprised Fenske and ends up winning the nomination. A supporter of the exiled Fenske, James Ford contests as an independent but is defeated by the official Conservative candidate as part of an overall minority government win by the Tories.

You would expect an initial uproar as a young and upcoming catches the old guard off guard, but things should eventually settle down. However, when there’s still protests more than a month after the election, you know there’s more to this story.

So what’s different? A beard and a turban. These articles of the Sikh faith belong to Tim Uppal, a young Sikh activist who has been spent his entire life on the political scene in Edmonton and had previously contested two other elections and lost in a different riding.

In a recent Edmonton Journal article, Tim’s critics:

Many of whom worked on the campaign of independent conservative candidate James Ford – said they want senior Conservative party officials in Ottawa to know that they don’t consider Uppal to be their representative because they believe he took the nomination by stealth.

They are still miffed that he didn’t officially declare his intention to run until the day the sale of Conservative party memberships was cut off. By then it was too late for the only declared candidate, Jacquie Fenske, who was expected to win the nomination by acclamation, to drum up more support.

From my perspective, what Tim did was a little “opportunistic” but certainly not illegal. Working the political system is a time-honoured tradition. Ever the walk-on-water President-Elect Barrick Obama has been accused of playing with technicalities to get all the other candidates nominations disqualified in his first race for Senate.

There’s especially nothing wrong with waiting until the last minute before the deadline to submit your papers. If that was the case, I would never have graduated from university.

The greater question is whether the supportors of Fenske and Ford would still have their knickers in a such a knot if Tim Uppal was Tim Smith – a clean-cut guy who used to coach football with at-risk teens rather than kabaddi. While Edmonton has had a thriving Sikh community for decades, the city still has a long way to go.

I guess its only ethnic politics when coloured people do it; When it was the Italians, Germans and Ukranians it was celebrated as community politics.

FULL DISCLOSURE: MLS is a good friend of Tim and his wife Kiran but hopefully writing from an objective Sikh-Canadian perspective.


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21 Responses to “Good Community Politics + Turbans = Bad Ethnic Politics?”

  1. Singh says:

    God Allegation of racism? Let's not become like the blacks who whine about racism when there is none and let our work speak for itself. Just because his opponents are mad about being outwitted by an opponent that means their racist? Let's all grow up.

  2. Singh says:

    God Allegation of racism? Let’s not become like the blacks who whine about racism when there is none and let our work speak for itself. Just because his opponents are mad about being outwitted by an opponent that means their racist? Let’s all grow up.

  3. Kaur says:

    During the election campaign there were posters with Tim Uppal's face asking if this face represents "your faith, values and community". If that isn't racism, what is?!

  4. Kaur says:

    During the election campaign there were posters with Tim Uppal’s face asking if this face represents “your faith, values and community”. If that isn’t racism, what is?!

  5. Jorawar Singh Parmar says:

    Notice how he's wearing a blue pugh and orange tie. Khalsa colours 😉

  6. Jorawar Singh Parmar says:

    Notice how he’s wearing a blue pugh and orange tie. Khalsa colours 😉

  7. ItsMe says:

    [quote comment="8649"]God Allegation of racism? Let's not become like the blacks who whine about racism when there is none and let our work speak for itself. Just because his opponents are mad about being outwitted by an opponent that means their racist? Let's all grow up.[/quote]

    You can only judge if the people are mad and driven by race if you how the environment or the general feel for the province and how the majority see the minority. Personally growing up Alberta was a conservative racists place for the most part.

    I wouldn't say we are being like blacks (which is a blind judgmentstereotype in itself.) especially seeing as a the Tories have been seen for a long time standing a Status Quo party for the affluent whites the minorities tend to vote Liberal or NDP.

  8. ItsMe says:

    [quote comment=”8649″]God Allegation of racism? Let’s not become like the blacks who whine about racism when there is none and let our work speak for itself. Just because his opponents are mad about being outwitted by an opponent that means their racist? Let’s all grow up.[/quote]
    You can only judge if the people are mad and driven by race if you how the environment or the general feel for the province and how the majority see the minority. Personally growing up Alberta was a conservative racists place for the most part.

    I wouldn’t say we are being like blacks (which is a blind judgment\stereotype in itself.) especially seeing as a the Tories have been seen for a long time standing a Status Quo party for the affluent whites the minorities tend to vote Liberal or NDP.

  9. jessie parmar says:

    hello everyone

    my name is jessie parmar from lethbridge, alberta, i know a little bit about tim, he is gentleman and schoolar, wait for few years, his hard work show that he is able person, who sikh comunity will proud off.

    keep up the good work. don,t worry about anything. khalsa is puoud of you.

    with love

    jessie parmar

    1403-330-4176

  10. jessie parmar says:

    hello everyone
    my name is jessie parmar from lethbridge, alberta, i know a little bit about tim, he is gentleman and schoolar, wait for few years, his hard work show that he is able person, who sikh comunity will proud off.
    keep up the good work. don,t worry about anything. khalsa is puoud of you.
    with love
    jessie parmar
    1403-330-4176

  11. sonny says:

    Let’s not become like the blacks who whine about racism when there is none

    do you see the inherent racism in this statement?

  12. sonny says:

    Lets not become like the blacks who whine about racism when there is none

    do you see the inherent racism in this statement?

  13. sonny says:

    oops clearly i messed up my quoting situation above, maybe a moderator can fix? :)

  14. sonny says:

    oops clearly i messed up my quoting situation above, maybe a moderator can fix? :)

  15. Jasvinder Singh says:

    "Jorawar Singh Parmar"

  16. Jasvinder Singh says:

    “Jorawar Singh Parmar”

  17. Jasvinder Singh says:

    the reason hes wearing a blue pagh coz its a pc color and the orange tie for khalsa 😉

  18. Jasvinder Singh says:

    the reason hes wearing a blue pagh coz its a pc color and the orange tie for khalsa 😉

  19. j.ameus says:

    I do not see any reason why the sikhs shoiuld keep their beards flowing.KARRA KACHH DOYE KANGA BIDAAN BINA KESH EH SABB JUMLA NISHAAN.I VALUE SIKHISM AS VERY HIGH.kESH IS MOST ESSENTIAL FOR THE SIKH .THE BEARD should ALWAYS BE FIXED AND KEPT IN SIZE. FIX IT CHORD IT ORNET IT. STILL TOO BIG TRIM IT SHORT. BEST IS " DHAAGA" LIKE GENERAL JAGJIT ARORA OR NEXT HARBAX SINGH. MANMOHANSINGH(PM OF INDIA) LOOKS GOOD. if a sikh cannot tie a nice turban he does not look good. We should look good in all societies. there are sessions for "good turban tying. trimming or perming in good way is good. though who feel annoyed should forgive me for being clear.Light blue shade or OG shade is good for all sikhs.V J K KH. V G ji ki f

  20. there are a lot of religions in this world and we should give respect to all religions of the world. Being human and being muslim we should give respect to all because islam also donot allow us to degrade any body so we should give respect to all.

  21. Joetta says:

    Very informative post. Your current Website style is awesome as well!