Ottawa Citizen – Attacks on Jagmeet Singh’s Sikh faith outrageous in most of Canada, but seen as fair game in Quebec

That a left-wing politician would feel at ease attacking a fellow politician of the left over his religion reveals how poisoned Quebec’s debate over secularism has become

Graeme Hamilton

Montreal, 19 September 2017. When an Ontario woman confronted NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh at a recent public meeting, accusing the Sikh politician of promoting Islamic sharia law, it was widely seen as an outrage, and a video of Singh’s dignified response went viral.

When a Quebec woman told reporters Monday that Singh represents an emerging “religious left” and that his turban and kirpan are a way of forcing his religion on people, however, it was just another salvo in the province’s long-running debate over minority religious symbols.

The Quebec woman was no meeting-crasher but Martine Ouellet, the leader of the federal Bloc Québécois and an elected member of Quebec’s national assembly. That this left-wing politician, a darling of the province’s ecologists, would feel at ease attacking a fellow politician of the left over his religion reveals how poisoned Quebec’s debate over secularism has become.

From the controversy over reasonable accommodation a decade ago through the 2013 Parti Québécois “charter of values,” to the government bill currently before the legislature that would prohibit women wearing burkas or niqabs from receiving public services, Quebec politicians have repeatedly singled out minority religions under the guise of promoting religious neutrality.

In making her comments, Ouellet said her opposition to a politician openly displaying his faith is in line with Quebec opinion about the separation of church and state. “That’s what liberty is about, the liberty to be able to choose our own religion and not to promote one religion more than another,” she said in a Huffington Post video.

“That’s how most of the people in Quebec think.”

She said that by wearing a turban, Singh has signaled that his “primary values” are religious. Canadian multiculturalists might accept that, she said, but in Quebec such religious displays should be limited to “the private sphere”.

It is an argument frequently heard in Quebec, and certainly not a new one for the province’s Sikhs. In fact, it was a Sikh boy who inadvertently helped launch the reasonable accommodation debate when his attempt to wear to school a kirpan, a small ceremonial Sikh dagger, went to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The court ruled in 2006 that the school board had violated Gurbaj Singh Multani’s religious freedom, and he won the right to wear the kirpan provided it was concealed and secured.

Polls showed Quebecers largely rejected the court’s findings, and the case fuelled suspicion of the high court and a belief that accommodating minority religious symbols threatened traditional Quebec values.

In 2011, four kirpan-wearing members of the World Sikh Organization scheduled to testify before a legislative committee were barred from entering the National Assembly, and the PQ’s charter of values included turbans among the religious symbols it wanted to prohibit public servants from wearing them.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named four Sikhs, including two who wear turbans, to his federal cabinet in 2015, it was widely interpreted as a reflection of Canadian diversity.

But it did not take long after Jagmeet Singh, an Ontario MPP, entered the NDP leadership race for whispers to be heard that he faced an uphill battle in Quebec because of his religious headwear.

Writing in L’actualité in May, longtime NDP strategist Karl Bélanger predicted Singh would inevitably face questions “concerning his Sikh faith and its impact on his policies.

Anyone aware of the history of Quebec, its commitment to secularism flowing from the Grande Noirceur (when Maurice Duplessis governed the province), also understands the complexity of the question.”

By July, NDP sources were telling Le Devoir that Singh would damage the party’s chances in Quebec. And last Saturday, Quebec MP Pierre Nantel declared that Singh and his “conspicuous religious symbols” would not fly with Quebec voters.

“It has been shown that people do not want to see conspicuous religious symbols; they are not believed to be compatible with power, with authority,” Nantel told Radio-Canada.

Part of the hostility toward religious symbols is certainly a holdover from the days of Duplessis when the Catholic Church held sway over the province, although oddly, the crucifix hanging behind the speaker’s chair in the National Assembly has managed to survive.

The problem is that in today’s Quebec, it is largely practitioners of minority religions, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, who consider so-called conspicuous symbols central to their faith. And the non-practising majority feels empowered to dictate how the minorities exercise their religion.

Gérard Bouchard and Charles Taylor described Quebec’s reasonable accommodation crisis as a “face-off” between groups that each saw themselves as minorities and expected the other to bend.

“It must be understood that for French-Canadian Quebecers, the combination of their majority status in Québec and their minority status in Canada and North America is not easy,” the scholars wrote in their 2008 report.

“It is a difficult apprenticeship that began in the 1960s and, which, obviously, is ongoing.” Nearly a decade later, there is still no end in sight.

Graeme Hamilton <>


The Tribune – Police reach Canada to extradite Jassi’s ‘killers’

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 17 September 2017. A three-member Punjab Police team has reached Vancouver, Canada, for the extradition of two prime accused in the Jassi honour killing case.

The team led by IPS officer Kanwardeep Kaur, posted as SP (Headquarters) in Patiala, would bring back Jassi’s mother Malkiat Kaur (62) and maternal uncle Surjit Singh Badesha (70) to face trial in India for the murder.

The extradition was made possible after the British Columbia Supreme Court ordered the extradition last week — 17 years after the murder.

Jassi and her husband Sukhwinder Singh Mithu of Kaunke Khosa village in Jagraon were attacked on June 8, 2000, near Malerkotla by contract killers allegedly hired by Jassi’s mother and uncle. Jassi died, while Mithu survived.

The police left for Canada last evening after Secretary (Home) Rahul Kumar gave the approval to bring back the accused.

The other members of the police team are Dhuri DSP Akashdeep Singh Aulakh and Inspector Deepinder Pal Singh. Surjit and Malkiat are booked under Sections 302, 307, 364, 148, 149 and 120-B of the IPC.

Jassi, a Canadian-born Indian girl, met Mithu when she visited her uncle in Punjab. It was love at first sight.

Mithu and Jassi belonged to the Sidhu clan, but Mithu’s socio-economic status was lower than the Jassi’s. A huge mansion of Badesha was next to a two-room house of Mithu in Kaunke Khosa.

Also, marriages within a village are mostly unapproved of. But Jassi insisted and married Mithu against the wishes of her family in March 2000.

The couple stayed at various places till 8 June 2000, when 14 contract killers waylaid them near Malerkotla.

ANI – Hate is wrong: Canadian Sikh politician Jagmeet Singh after heckling video goes viral

Brampton-Ontario-Canada, 11 September 2017. An Indo-Canadian politician, Jagmeet Singh, has opened up on his reaction, which earned him plaudits, after a video, showing a heckler spewing ugly remarks at him during a meet and greet event, went viral.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) leadership contender explained what was going through his mind as he was faced with “angry, hateful and Islamophobic comments”.

“Many people have commented that I could have just said I’m not Muslim. In fact, many have clarified that I’m actually Sikh. While I’m proud of who I am, I purposely didn’t go down that road because it suggests their hate would be ok if I was Muslim. We all know it’s not,” he said.

“I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong.'”

On Wednesday, a woman interrupted Singh’s campaign event in Ontario’s Brampton to accuse him of backing Shariah, a system of laws based on Islam.

The video shows Singh deftly defusing the situation by telling the woman he loved and welcomed her.

“When is your Sharia going to end?” the woman asked the Sikh politician.

Singh responded to the woman: “What this is, we don’t want to be intimidated by hate. We don’t want hatred to ruin a positive event, so let’s show people how we treat people with love.”

“We welcome you, we support you and we love you.”

“Once allowed to grow, hate doesn’t pick and choose, it spreads like fire. Once we say it’s ok to hate someone based on their religion, we’re also opening the door to hate based on race, gender, sexuality, and more. It’s important that we stand united against all forms of hate,” the MPP addressed the issue in a statement released on Saturday.

“It takes love to understand that we’re all in this together. It takes courage to come together, demand better and dream bigger, so that we can build a world where no one is left behind.”

Singh also took to Twitter and posted a statement explaining his stand on the issue.

The Province – Jagmeet Singh campaign event interrupted by racially-charged confrontation

Stuart Thomson

Brampton-Ontario-Canada, 8 September 2017. NDP leadership candidate Jagmeet Singh was interrupted at a campaign event in Brampton on Wednesday by a woman who accused the Sikh MPP of having ties to Muslim extremists.

A video posted by Brampton Focus, a community news website in the city, shows a woman approaching Singh immediately after he starts speaking and accusing him of being “in bed with Sharia (law)” and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a religious and political group active in the Middle East for nearly 90 years and, although it officially condemns violence, it has been linked to terrorist attacks in the past. (And in fact, Singh is Sikh, not Muslim, and is the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit as an MPP in Ontario.)

The news website titled the video, “Is Canada ready for Jagmeet Singh?”

In the video, Singh tries intermittently addressing the woman and speaking over her, before leading the crowd in a chant of “love and courage” as the woman shouts inaudibly.

“We don’t want to be intimidated by hate,” says Singh. “We don’t want hatred to ruin a positive event.”

After about four minutes, during which people around Singh try repeatedly to coax the woman out of the room, she eventually leaves of her own accord.

“You know growing up as a brown-skin, turbanned, bearded man, that I’ve faced things like this before. It’s not a problem. We can deal with it,” said Singh.”There’s going to be other obstacles that we’re going to face and we’re going to face them with love and courage.” – Jagmeet Singh rallies for NDP vote drive in Brampton

Sikh24 Editors

Brampton-Ontario-Canada, 7 September 2017. The campaign for Jagmeet Singh to win the leadership drive for the federal (national) NDP party took place on home ground yesterday, following on from a Canada-wide tour that has garnered much support from all quarters.

Singh shared that in just two months from now, voting takes place for the leadership position, for which all NDP members will be requested to vote.

Within the next few days, members will receive voting cards, on which they will be required to mark their candidate selection. Advice was given on how to follow procedure to prevent rendering the vote cards void through mistakes or errors.

Jagmeet Singh was cheered and applauded when he talked of some of the policies he and his party having being pursuing, such as fair and equal treatment of the indigenous, tackling unfair carding, environmental focus and fairer taxing.

His campaign has increased the party’s membership by over 47,000 people and raised over 300 thousand dollars in a record amount of time.

With this rate of popularity growth, Jagmeet Singhs chances of succeeding get stronger and stronger. His Facebook and other social media reach has also mushroomed exponentially, especially in comparison to his rival candidates.

Jagmeet Singh’s Facebook profile:

Je suis très honoré de recevoir l’appui de l’ancien leader parlementaire Peter Julian dans la course à la direction du NPD. Peter est un néo-démocrate de longue date. Sa mobilisation de tous les instants lui a mérité du respect à travers le pays.

Il est impliqué dans le parti et en faveur de la justice sociale depuis longtemps. Il a joué un rôle crucial en 2011 et dans notre succès au Québec. Peter a su mobiliser et se battre pour un monde meilleur depuis l’adolescence. C’est un privilège d’avoir Peter parmi nous.

Dawn – Meet the Sikh politician who might ‘out-Trudeau Justin Trudeau’

Alan Freeman

Ottawa-Canada, 25 August 2017. Canada’s latest political phenomenon is just 38. He’s a dapper lawyer who wears bespoke three-piece suits, rides his bike to work and has been featured in GQ. He also sports a long beard and wears pastel-coloured turbans and a kirpan, a ceremonial dagger, both integral elements of the Sikh religion.

Meet Jagmeet Singh, who is shaking up the lacklustre race to lead Canada’s left-leaning New Democratic Party, the country’s third-largest party. His backers say he could eventually pose a political threat to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the governing Liberal Party.

Singh, until now the deputy leader of the New Democrats in the provincial legislature in Ontario, is the latest in a line of Sikh Canadians who have made a big impact on the country’s political scene, a remarkable achievement for a minority that in the 2011 census accounted for less than 1.5 per cent of Canada’s population.

Four members of Trudeau’s cabinet are Sikh, including Harjit Singh Sajjan, who serves as Canada’s minister of national defence.

Trudeau quipped recently there were more Sikhs in his cabinet than in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. (Sikhism is the fourth largest religion in India, but Sikhs make up just two per cent of India’s population.)

Canada’s Sikhs numbered 455,000 in the 2011 census, with the biggest concentrations in British Columbia and the Toronto area. But the political and economic success of the Sikh diaspora here makes Canada a major draw for Sikhs in India.

“For Sikhs across the world, Canada is seen as one of the best places to live,” says Balpreet Singh, legal counsel and spokesman for the World Sikh Organisation of Canada. “If you asked anyone in Punjab where they would like to live if they go abroad, the first choice is Canada.”

Balpreet Singh, a cousin of Jagmeet’s, said in an interview Sikhs have also succeeded in the United States but have faced more discrimination, including a series of hate crimes in which Sikhs have been mistaken for Muslims. “We don’t have anything here like you have in America”.

Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, a polling firm based in Vancouver, said Jagmeet Singh appeals to many of the same voters who made Trudeau’s victory possible in 2015. “He appeals to a youth demographic, and he appeals to minority communities”, Kurl said. “Where Justin Trudeau talks about diversity being our strength, Jagmeet Singh is the embodiment of that. He can almost out-Trudeau Justin Trudeau”.

Sikhs in Canada

Sikhs first arrived in Canada at the end of the 19th century but soon found themselves unwelcome.

In a now-famous incident in 1914, when the Japanese ship Komagata Maru landed at Vancouver harbour with 376 mostly Sikh passengers, authorities refused to allow the would-be immigrants to disembark. After a court battle, the passengers were expelled from Canada.

In May 2016, Trudeau formally apologised for the incident.

The real growth in the number of Sikhs and other South Indians began in the 1970s when the government of Pierre Trudeau, Justin’s father, relaxed Canada’s immigration laws.

Other challenges soon arose. In the late 1980s, Baltej Singh Dhillon’s application to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was denied because the force’s dress code banned him from wearing a turban in place of the traditional Stetson hat.

After public pressure, the government relented and changed the policy, and Dhillon joined the force. His story has been marked by the Canadian Broadcasting Corperation in a documentary on the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation.

Personal style as tool

Brought up in Newfoundland, where his father studied medicine, and later in Windsor, Ontario, Jagmeet Singh said the racism he faced as a child made him sensitive to victims of discrimination and motivated his career choice as a defence lawyer. He sees his personal style as a tool to talk about these issues.

“A beard and a turban sometimes conjure up negative associations, but if you see someone with a lime-coloured, bright orange or pink turban, it disarms people’s stereotyped notion of this image”, he told GQ.

At an all-candidates leadership debate held by the New Democrats in June, Singh said his identity would be a vote-getter. “I can connect with new Canadians in ways that others on this stage simply cannot”, he said.

As he mulled his leadership bid this spring, he was featured on a popular TV show hosted by comedian Rick Mercer. Singh taught the host how to tie a turban.

He was first elected in the 2011 Ontario provincial election; in his interview with GQ, he said he was inspired to run for office after doing human rights work as a lawyer for under-represented communities.

Singh’s policies include a vow to raise corporate taxes and oppose expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, which pleases environmentalists.


Although he has come out in favour of same-sex marriage and women’s abortion rights, Singh has been criticised for favouring an exemption from mandatory motorcycle helmet laws for Sikhs and for failing to actively support Ontario’s sex education curriculum, aligning himself with conservative immigrant communities.

Party members in Quebec have been critical of Singh for wearing a turban and kirpan and say he will hurt the party’s electoral chances in the largely French-speaking province. “To have a leader who wears ostentatious [religious] symbols, we aren’t ready,” Pierre Dionne LaBelle, a former New Democrat member of Parliament from Quebec told Le Devoir, a French-language newspaper.

The Quebec National Assembly already bans the wearing of the kirpan, the only provincial legislature to do so, and is mulling proposed legislation banning people from providing or receiving public services if they cover their faces.

A recent Angus Reid survey showed that while 56 per cent of all Canadians would vote for a party leader who wears a religious head covering, only 36 per cent of Quebecers would do so.

New Democratic Party members will begin casting ballots in the online election in mid-September in what could be several rounds of voting. A final result is expected by mid-October. Predicting the outcome is difficult because voting is limited to party members.

One indication of Singh’s organisational strength: His campaign raised more money by far than his three opponents in the period that ended June 30.

Observers warn that despite his youth and lack of national experience, it would be unwise to underestimate Singh’s chances at victory.

Suggestions that Singh is all style and no substance recall early criticisms of Trudeau before his election win in 2015, writes Tim Harper, a columnist with The Toronto Star. “Questions about Singh’s style, depth and debating skills sound surprisingly like the questions being asked about Trudeau four years ago”.

By arrangement with The Washington Post – Sikhs in Canada host successful leadership event

Balpreet Singh

Ottawa, 18 August 2017. The World Sikh Organization of Canada held its third annual Sikh Youth Leadership Institute (SYLI) in Ottawa this past weekend. After taking part in a rigorous application process, twenty Sikh youth between the ages of 18-25 were selected to take part in the program.

The attendees came from coast to coast, including Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. More than half of this year’s participants were Sikh women.

Participants gathered in Ottawa from August 11-14 to receive leadership training in emotional intelligence, advocacy, community building, and social justice. Attendees also brainstormed social initiatives for their communities, and created plans for their implementation.

On the first day, Puneet Mann, VP of Customer Experience at Scotiabank helped students understand and analyze different leadership styles. Workshops helped students develop their emotional intelligence and grow their self-awareness.

The second day of the program consisted of workshops and panel discussions featuring prominent Sikhs who are leaders in their fields.

The business panel composed of Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of DataWind Inc; Karan Walia, the co-founder and CEO of Cluep and Parveen Kaur, consultant for the Public and Professional Affairs Department at the Canadian Pharmacists Association, spoke to students about their experiences as successful Sikhs in the corporate world.

Bhupinder Singh Hundal, media consultant and commentator on Hockey Night in Canada-Punjabi Edition lead a workshop on media engagement.

The Sikh Youth Leadership Institute also hosted a multi-partisan political panel which included MP Ruby Sahota, Brampton City Councilor Gurpreet Dhillon and former Minister of State-Multiculturalism, Honarable Tim Uppal.

The event was concluded by a Sikhi and leadership workshop lead by WSO’s legal counsel Balpreet Singh.

An attendee from Calgary, Simona Kaur said, “I honestly don’t know where to begin. This past week has been nothing short of life changing for me. Huge thank you to the organizers for putting together a seamless agenda for us…

The workshops turned out to be full of insights and wisdom drops and with a wonderful blend of Sikhi in them. Also, thank you for pushing the importance of powerful women in the community.”

WSO President, Mukhbir Singh said, “the Sikh Youth Leadership Institute has been one of our most successful initiatives and has resulted in the empowerment of young Sikhs from across Canada and has helped bring together a network of young activists who are making a difference in their communities.

We are proud of the work of our past years’ graduates and are look forward to the contributions of this years’ cohort.”

The WSO is a charity organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

The donations page for the WSO provides a wonderful way of supporting this high profile Sikh organization that requires much input from the Sikh community.

NDTV – Sikh-Americans propose to entitle women to sing at Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple)

Sikhs urgently need to end all forms of discrimination against women in all Gurdwaras
Man in Blue

About 120 young Sikhs between the age group of seven and 17 gathered in a Maryland suburb of Washington and raised the question of why Sikh women are not performing kirtan at Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple).

Washington, 26 July 2017. Sikh-Americans have proposed that women should be allowed to sing shabads or hymns at the Golden Temple (Darbar Sahib) to recognise the important role played by them in strengthening the Sikh faith.

About 120 young Sikhs between the age group of seven and 17 from across the United States and Canada, gathered in a Maryland suburb of Washington, raised the question of why Sikh women are not performing kirtan at Darbar Sahib

“It is clear from the many other historical references that Sikh women were crucial to the success of the 5th largest religion and it is extremely important that we give them their deserving role in Sikh affairs, especially being able to sing shabads or hymns at the very heart of Sikhism, in Darbar Sahib, the Golden Temple,” Rajwant Singh, one of the Sikh Americans who taught the campers said.

The Sikh youth camp was organised by the Washington-based Guru Gobind Singh Foundation.

“This Panth would not be where it is today without the actions of Sikh women, so we should recognise their contributions,” said Sehejneet Kaur, one of the counselors who is pursuing dentistry.

The Globe and Mail – It’s not Jagmeet Singh’s turban that’s the NDP’s problem in Quebec

Adam Radwanski

Op/Ed, 21 July 2017. As Jagmeet Singh this week announced his first endorsement from a sitting Quebec MP, Hélène Laverdière, his campaign team spun that it would help put an end to the chatter about whether a turban-wearing Sikh could win votes in that province.

Fat chance, at this point.

Concerns among New Democrats about Mr Singh’s viability in the province that catapulted the NDP to its best-ever election result six years ago, which have generated voluminous punditry in both official languages since Le Devoir reported on them earlier this month, are unlikely to be abated by one of 16 Quebec caucus members coming aboard.

Nor is Ms Laverdière’s backing, helpful though it may be, likely to change the minds of those Quebeckers, a majority of the electorate there, a recent Angus Reid poll suggested, who would not vote for a Sikh, or anyone sporting religious headwear.

The danger to Mr Singh’s hopes of winning the NDP’s fall leadership vote is not so much that lots of Quebeckers could come out to cast ballots against him: Despite Quebec accounting for nearly half the New Democratic caucus, the party does not have enough members there to count for much in a one-member, one vote system.

Rather, it’s that New Democrats elsewhere in the country could be wary of selecting someone who would make it harder to get back toward the 59 seats they won in Quebec in 2011.

As understandable as that worry may be, this would be a good time for New Democrats to ask themselves: Is it actually in their interests to try to stay in the good graces of people who would never vote for a proud member of a religious minority, even if that includes a fair number of folks who voted for them at least once before?

To raise that question is not to dismiss as a bigot anyone who is uncomfortable with the overt religiosity of someone like Mr Singh.

No doubt, as media in the rest of the country often bend over backward to point out, some of the discomfort stems from a liberal secularism that only intimate familiarity with the Quiet Revolution can explain, even if the giant cross in the National Assembly, and that same poll showing higher comfort with evangelical Christians than with either Sikhs or Muslims, suggest other factors are also at play for some Quebeckers.

But setting aside the reasons for some Quebeckers’ sentiments, the issue for the NDP is compatibility between their potential supporters there and in the rest of the country.

If they are to challenge for government, New Democrats probably need to have a chance of winning at least double the number of ridings in the rest of Canada as in Quebec.

Yes, a smaller chunk of the electorate in other provinces shares the discomfort with practising Sikhs, Muslims or other members of prominent religious minorities in leadership positions. But those on the left side of the spectrum are more likely to decide not to vote NDP if they perceive the party as intolerant toward those minorities.

That is especially the case in the urban and suburban areas that increasingly dominate the electoral map, where the NDP would dearly love to challenge the Liberals’ current dominance.

And it obviously applies to growing minority-religion and visible-minority populations themselves, which are huge factors in suburban battlegrounds in particular, and which the NDP needs to figure out how to court if it is to avoid perennial third-party status.

In just the right circumstances, the NDP could simultaneously win over voters in Quebec and the rest of Canada who have divergent views on something so fundamental. That’s arguably what happened in 2011, although gains in places like the Greater Toronto Area and BC’s Lower Mainland were still short of what would be needed to win government.

But the history of parties that paper over major ideological fault lines to build coalitions of Quebeckers and non-Quebeckers suggests it is a recipe for long-term disaster even if it brings short-term success.

Brian Mulroney’s alliance of Quebec nationalists and Western populists (among others), culminating in the collapse of the Progressive Conservatives and the rise of both the Bloc Québécois and the Reform Party, being the most obvious example.

Those fault lines can change with time. It has been long enough since the height of the sovereignty debate that federalism may not be as divisive a topic as it once was.

Minority rights, in a country continuing to undergo profound demographic change, now look more like the sort of subject on which a party will suffer if it tries to have it both ways, as the NDP got a whiff of in the last campaign, when it managed to cede defence of niqab-wearing women to the Liberals outside Quebec and alienate Quebec supporters by belatedly taking that side.

Pessimistic New Democrats might see a Catch-22, since foregoing Quebec hardly seems like a viable path to government or even back to Official Opposition. But less than two years ago, the Liberals demonstrated it is possible to win a majority of seats in Quebec un-apologetically presenting as a party sympathetic to and aligned with minority populations.

Whether the Liberals’ supporters in 2015 were fully on board with religious accommodation, or just willing to overlook it, many of them are presumably accessible to a pluralistic NDP as well.

It need not necessarily be Mr Singh leading it. There are plenty of perfectly defensible reasons, from lack of federal experience to believing he lacks policy substance to being put off by the flashy manner in which he presents himself, that New Democrats could decide he’s not their guy.

But whoever winds up as their leader should be wary of trying too hard to keep inside the tent anyone who would reject Mr Singh because he wears a turban. It’s a good way to eventually have the tent collapse altogether.

Follow Adam Radwanski on Twitter:

The Tribune – Thirty-six years after plane hijacking, two Sikh militants face trial

Granted two-day bail; have already served life sentence in Pakistan

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, 18 July 2017. Thirty-six years after a Srinagar-bound Indian Airlines plane with 111 passengers and six crew members was hijacked and taken to Lahore, two of the five Sikh hijackers appeared before a Delhi court to face sedition charges.

Accused Satnam Singh and Tejinder Pal Singh, who have already served life term in Pakistan for the 1981 crime, appeared before Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Jyoti Kler, who granted them two-day interim bail.

After serving their sentence, Tejinder and Satnam had moved to Canada and the US, respectively, and were deported to India in 1998 and 1999. The other hijackers, Gajinder Singh, Jasbir Singh and Karan Singh, are not in India.

Belonging to the Dal Khalsa, the hijackers had demanded the release of then Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who was arrested on September 20 that year in a murder case.

Asking the investigating officer to file a report, the ACMM posted the matter for further hearing on July 20.

On behalf of the two accused, senior advocate Mohit Mathur and advocate Manisha Bhandari contended that the duo had already served life sentence and spent 35 years of their life in litigation.

Terming it a “classic example of double jeopardy”, the lawyers said the duo’s entire life would be spent in facing one trial after the other for the “same set of facts”.

Mathur said they couldn’t be tried again for the same incident under a different name, adding that the accused must be discharged.

Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh, who accompanied the accused, said there had been a travesty of justice in the case as the Indian Government had put them on trial after 36 years on “sedition” charges, ignoring their life imprisonment in Pakistan for the same offence.

However, the prosecution and the court maintained that the principle of double jeopardy did not apply as the offences for which they were tried and convicted in Pakistan were different from the ones mentioned in the present chargesheet.

The Delhi Police had filed a supplementary chargesheet in a court on September 29, 2011, under sedition charges. After taking cognisance of the chargesheet, the court had asked the accused to appear before it on July 18 for a fresh trial in connection with the crime that took place on September 29, 1981.

In May 2017, the Delhi High Court had refused to quash the supplementary chargesheet against the accused and asked them to appear before the trial court.