Hindustan Times – Canada, Oz gurdwaras start free langar tiffin service for students

The 24-hour service is underway at Surrey, to be launched at Plumpton in Melbourne today

Surjit Singh

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 28 December 2019. In a noble gesture, Sikh organisations and gurdwara managements in Canada and Australia have started free packed langar service for students from India.

The service is underway at Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, Surrey, in Canada since October and students of all faiths are availing it. Special arrangements have been made to prepare food packets at the langar hall of the gurdwara so that students can carry them easily to their residence, school or place of work.

“Students, especially from Punjab, study overseas away from their families for bright future. They have to face a lot of hardships here. So, our committee has decided to help them, which is the mission of our faith,” said Hardeep Singh Nijjar, president of the managing committee of the gurdwara.

He said: “Most of these students don’t know how to make roti. Ready made dishes such as pizza or burger prove costly for them. Secondly, they are short of time to prepare meal for themselves since they have to cover long distances to attend classes and also go for work for earning money.

Sometimes, many of them sleep without food. Keeping these problems in view, free tiffins are being provided to the needy students as per their requirement.”

“These students are our future and it is our duty to help them,” said gurdwara secretary Bhupinder Singh.

The langar hall is open round the clock and students come here to collect food packets even at night after they get free from work. “We distribute around 100 food packets to students on a given day.

Not only Punjab, students from other states across India are availing this facility,” said Charanjit Singh Sujjon, caretaker of the gurdwara, who also serves food in the langar hall. “Ever since the gurdwara started this service, sangat has increased contribution for the langar,” he added.

Other gurdwaras in Canada are also planning to start this service.

This idea of serving the international students has now been adopted by Sikh bodies in Australia too, where this service will be started at Gurdwara Dal Baba Bidhi Chand Jee Khalsa Shaoni, Plumpton, in Melbourne on Sunday to commemorate the martyrdom of Chaar Sahibzaade (four sons of Guru Gobind Singh) and Mata Gujri (mother of Guru Gobind Singh).

A Sikh organisation, Sikh Volunteers, will also join the humanitarian cause on January 5, the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

Gurdarshan Singh, a representative at Plumpton gurdwara, said: “Considering busy study and work schedule of international students, the service has been launched with the cooperation of sangat.”

“An online system and mobile application has also been introduced to register the needy students for this service,” said Gurtej Singh, a community activist in Melbourne.


The Hindustan Times – Family of 21-yr-old Sikh woman killed in Canada’s Surrey clueless on why she was shot dead

Jatinder Mahal

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 25 November 2019. Gurdyal Singh Matharoo, the father of Prabhleen Kaur 21, from Jalandhar who was shot dead in Canada’s Surrey where she was working after studying management, is clueless on why she was targeted and is headed to see her body one last time.

“The Canadian police have refused to share anything with us over the phone and with our relatives there. They have asked me to come to get details.

I’m hopeful of getting the go-ahead from the Canadian embassy by Tuesday morning and will be taking a flight at the earliest,” said an inconsolable Matharoo, 64, of Chitti village near Lambra in Jalandhar, where he runs a photo studio.

He freelanced as a photographer for a Punjabi daily for 15 years.

Prabhleen had gone to Canada on a student visa on November 14, 2016, and studied business management from Langara College in Vancouver. She was working at a store and lived on rent with friends in Surrey. Police suspect she was shot dead on 21 November.

The family was told about the murder at 6 am on Sunday. Her father said the Canadian police said they had locked her accommodation after the crime.

Matharoo said when Prabhleen got a full-time job this year, she started sending home money to repay the loan taken for her education. “I spent Rs 35 lakh in three years, including the Rs 15 lakh needed to send her to Canada. I borrowed the money from relatives. We still we have to repay about Rs 15 lakh,” he said.

Her mother, Manjit Kaur, had visited her twice in two years and returned in August after spending three months with her.

“She was happy and excited for she was to come home in January. The last time she came visiting was in January 2017. I would never have allowed her to go had I known she would never come back,” he said.

Prabhleen has a 10-year-old brother, Prabhjeet Singh, who studies in a Jalandhar school.


Scroll.in – Canada: Four persons of Indian origin appointed to Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet

Among them is former law professor Anita Anand, who is the first Hindu minister in the country’s Cabinet.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 21 November 2019. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed four persons of Indian origin to his 36-member Cabinet, Hindustan Times reported on Thursday. They are Navdeep Singh Bains, Harjit Singh Sajjan, Bardish Chagger, and Anita Anand, who is the first Hindu minister in the Cabinet.

While Sajjan will remain the minister of defence, Bains has been appointed the minister of innovation, science and industry. Chagger is the new minister of diversity, inclusion and youth, while Anand will lead the ministry of public services and procurement.

Anand is one of the only two new members of parliament elevated to the Cabinet along with Quebec environmentalist Steven Guilbeault, reported CBC Canada. She has taken charge at a time when the government is putting the finishing touches on a multi-billion dollar purchase of new fighter jets.

A resident of Nova Scotia, Anand has taught law at the University of Toronto, and is known as an expert in shareholder rights.

Meanwhile, Trudeau moved Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland to the ministry of intergovernmental affairs and will tasked with keeping the minority government afloat and prevent a national unity crisis, The Guardian reported.

She will also have the symbolic role of deputy prime minister. Freeland will be responsible for the government’s dealings with the country’s western provinces that have increasingly come into conflict with the prime minister’s environmental policies that they believe are harming the struggling oil and gas industry.

The former foreign minister, who is known as a skilled negotiator, will also continue overseeing the country’s relationship with the US. She has been replaced at the foreign ministry by Quebec-based international lawyer Francois-Philippe Champagne.

His appointment, along with that of Montreal’s Pablo Rodríguez as House leader, is indicative of the growing importance of Bloc Quebecois, a federal party pushing for a sovereign Quebec that is crucial to the survival of Trudeau’s minority administration.

Former Trade Minister Jim Carr will be the prime minister’s special representative to Alberta, Saskatchewan and the central province of Manitoba to ensure they have “a strong voice in Ottawa”.


Sikh24.com – 550th Prakash Purab: A Road will be renamed as “Guru Nanak Street” in Brampton Canada

Sikh24 Editors

Brampton – Ontario – Canada, 30 October 2019. The 550th Prakash Purab (birthday) of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji is not being celebrated in Punjab only but in all corners of the world.

The Brampton city council in Canada has unanimously decided to rename a road to Guru Nanak Street.

A regional councillor Gurpreet Singh Dhillon and city counsellor Harkirat Singh had presented this resolution for renaming the road situated in a suburb of Brampton. Peter Robertson Boulevard’s section between Dixie Road and Great Lakes will be renamed after Guru Nanak Dev Ji.

In official documents, will read the name of this road as ‘Guru Nanak Street’ or ‘Guru Nanak’.

Gurpreet Singh Dhillon told Sikh24 that Brampton is home to a large Sikh population. He added that Canada is a country with cultural diversity and people belonging to different religions, ethnicities and castes live here with unity and harmony.

Mr Dhillon further told that after the approval to get the road renamed, other initiatives would be taken to celebrate Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Prakash Purab.

550th Prakash Purab: A Road will be renamed as “Guru Nanak Street” in Brampton Canada

Asian Lite News – Special – 18 MPs and Sikh separatism in Canada

Is Canada’s Justin Trudeau government pandering to Sikh separatism? Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said the Trudeau government’s move to remove reference to “Sikh extremism” was politically motivated.
A special report by Asian Lite News.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 25 October 2019. The election of 18 members from the Sikh community grabs headlines across the world. It is more than the elected MPs from the Sikh community in India. But is it going to improve Indo-Canada ties?

Leader of Canada’s second largest party, Jagmeet Singh, may be a kingmaker in Ottawa, but for New Delhi he remains a ‘pro-Khalistani and a pro-Pakistani’ ringleader despite his deep Panjabi roots In India.

As many as 14 of the 18 Punjabi candidates fielded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party registered wins, mostly in the suburbs around Toronto and Vancouver. This time, a record half-a-dozen turbaned Sikhs will sit in the House.

Those who won from the Liberal party are Hoshiarpur’s Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South), Ludhiana’s Bardish Chagger (Waterloo) and Navdeep Bains (Mississauga Malton), all three are ministers.

The others from the party who won are Sukh Dhaliwal (Surrey Newton), Gagan Sikand (Mississauga Streetsville), Rameshwar Sangha (Brampton Centre), Randeep Sarai (Surrey Centre), Maninder Sidhu (Brampton East), Kamal Khera (Brampton East), Ruby Sahota (Brampton North), Sonia Sidhu (Brampton South), Anju Dhillon (Lachine Lassalle) and Raj Saini (Kitchener Centre) and Anita Anand (Oakville).

Of the 19 Punjabi candidates fielded by the Conservatives, only four won. They are former MP Tim Uppal (Edmonton Mill Woods), third-timer Bob Saroya (Markham Unionville), first-timer Jasraj Hallan (Calgary Forest Lawn) and Jagdeep Sahota (Calgary Skyview).

Uppal is the brother-in-law of Congress MLA from Jalandhar Cantt, Pargat Singh. Liberal Anita Anand is a first time MP.

In the 2015 elections, the 1.25 million-strong Indo-Canadian community doubled its representation in the Parliament with the election of 19 MPs.

Indo-Canadians comprise 3 per cent of the population of Canada.

In 2011, almost all the Indo-Canadian MPs were Conservatives, but the trend changed in 2015. The victory of Justin Trudeau in 2015 catapulted 15 Indo-Canadian Liberals to the Parliament in Ottawa.

Among Canada’s half-million strong Sikh community quite a number are reported to be supporters of Sikh extremism. In April, the Justin Trudeau government removed a reference to Sikh extremism from a report that had earlier termed Sikh terrorism as one of the five threats facing Canada.

Pro-Khailistani groups had criticised the “Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada” released last December by the Canadian Department of Public Safety.

The removal of reference to Sikh terrorism was seen as an attempt to woo Canadian Sikhs, and came just ahead of Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit to a Vancouver gurdwara for Baisakhi festivities. According to the now-deleted portions of the report, Sikh radicalism remains one of Canada’s top five flavors of homegrown terrorism, alongside Islamic radicalism and far-right fanaticism.

Under the heading “Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism,” the report noted that “some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements”.

It said that “two key Sikh organizations, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation, have been identified as being associated with terrorism and remain listed terrorist entities under the Criminal Code.”

The report cited the 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182 by British Columbia-based Sikh extremists. It noted that there were “extremely limited” instances of Khalistani violence on Canadian soil, and added that both Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation continue to be blamed by Indian authorities for ongoing violence.

The report explicitly referred to Canadian-based “financing” for the Khalistani organisations.

Sikh community leaders and Sikh members of the ruling Liberal Party protested against the report which they termed as an attack on Sikhism. Pro-Khalistan group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) demanded Prime Minister Trudeau’s resignation over the report.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, SFJ legal adviser, in a statement said: “For close to a year you and your government stood behind a completely unsubstantiated terror report that labelled our community as Sikh extremists or terrorists.

It’s despicable that you drop the offensive language from your report the day before you come calling for money and votes in Vancouver.”

Latest reports suggest that Jagmeet Singh is also trying to bring Khalistani and Kashmiri separatists under one umbrella in Canada. Recently he held a meeting in this connection at his residence in Ontario.

The report was then officially softened in April, to coincide with Trudeau’s attendance at a Baisakhi parade in British Columbia.
Mention of “Sikh extremism” and their motive of a “Sikh homeland” were expunged. Instead, there was a vague sentence on “Extremists who Support Violent Means to Establish an Independent State Within India.”

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said the Trudeau government’s move to remove reference to “Sikh extremism” was politically motivated.

“The Trudeau government has taken this decision under political pressure and is targeted to woo Sikhs in the election year. Trudeau is playing with fire as the decision will hit Indo-Canadian ties. Removal of reference to Sikh extremism will also pose a threat to India’s national security” Amarinder Singh said.

Canadian politician Ujjal Dosanjh a former federal Liberal cabinet minister and NDP Premier of British Columbia in an interview to the Sun said that with the move Trudeau’s government “has bowed to hard-right Khalistanis”.

“If he had bowed in the same way to hard-right fundamentalist Christians on any issue, there would be devastating criticisms of him by the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP. Except in this particular case the identity politics has won the day.

This is an extreme case of political pandering by Mr Trudeau. He capitulated to the hard-right Khalistanis and undermined the Canadian intelligence agencies or at least their independence in the way they want to identify their threats.”

Jagmeet Singh the King Maker

New Democratic Party (NPD) leader Jagmeet Singh, a contender in Monday’s Canadian general elections and also the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit as a provincial legislator in Ontario, has reached out to young voters in the country via TikTok, the video sharing app.

Singh has made it a priority to try to connect with young voters through his campaign, using tools and strategies other political leaders either cannot or have chosen not to try, CBC News reported on Sunday.

A dossier prepared by Indian Intelligence agencies says that Jagmeet, leader of the New Democratic Party(NDP), not only shelters activists of Khalistan in Canada, he leads the anti-Indian movement in the Americas, more vociferously, after India revoked special status to Jammu and Kashmir, early August 2019.

To the surprise of many diplomats in South Block, the seat of India’s foreign office in New Delhi, Singh, born to immigrant Indian parents, organised a conference of pro-Khalistan activists in Ontario in 2013, aimed at maligning the image of India abroad.

Two years later in 2015, as legislature member of NDP, Singh appeared at a pro-Khalistan rally in San-Francisco. He blatantly showered praises for dreaded terror leader Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, killed in a gunfight in Operation Blue Star.

In 2016, Singh went a step further when he endorsed the use of violence as a legitimate form of resistance to achieve an independent Sikh homeland out of India. Since 2012, Jagmeet Singh now 40, has been on the radar of Indian Intelligence agencies.

On a specific report of Research and Analysis Wing (RA&W), India’s external Intelligence agency, Singh was denied a visa in 2013 for his anti-Indian stance.

The RA&W revealed in one its report that Singh had been funding Khalistani outfits, operating from Pakistan. He is also connected with prominent Khalistani and Kashmiri separatist groups based in different countries of Europe.

Latest reports suggest that Jagmeet Singh is also trying to bring Khalistani and Kashmiri separatists under one umbrella in Canada. Recently he held a meeting in this connection at his residence in Ontario.

After the abrogation of Article 370 by the Modi government, Singh had expressed his support to pro-Pakistan propaganda on Kashmir. In various local media platforms Singh issued statements against India and accused the country of human rights violations in the region.

“I want the people of Kashmir to know that I stand with you, I stand against the injustices happening, and I denounce what India is doing to the people of Kashmir,” he told the media.

Though Singh’s meteoric rise in Canadian politics is seen as triumph of multiculturalism but there are many Canadians of Indian origin who are now questioning NDP leader on his proximity to sympathisers of slain terror kingpin Talwinder Singh Parmar, prime suspect in Kanishka (Air India) bombing.

Parmat, the militant who lead the Babbar Khalsa outfit still has many followers in Canada, allegedly having close ties with Singh.

Sources in the Ministry Of External Affairs said that India is watching the developments in Ottawa closely. As far the political rise of Jagmeet Singh is concerned, New Delhi’s stand is quite clear.

Those found harbouring terror outfits or their supporters would not be entertained in India. A point also endorsed and acknowledged by foreign policy makers in Canada.

There are many people outside India, Sikh or non-Sikh who are critical of the way India treats its minorities. Many Panjabi Sikhs in the UK and Canada would like to see a state of Khalistan, outside the Union of India. There are links between ‘Khalistani’ and Kashmiri’ separatists in both countries.

These people are separatists, but not extremists or terrorists. In democratic countries like Canada or the UK it is legal to campaign for an independent Quebec or Scotland. India is not a democracy, and it defends itself and its appalling human rights record by equating separatism with extremism and terrorism.
Man in Blue


Sikh24.com – Festival like atmosphere in village Thikriwala after Jagmeet Singh’s victory

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 October 2019. With the noticeable victory of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, there is no limit of joy for the residents of village Thikriwala (Barnala). A festival like atmosphere is being observed in village Thikriwala since the announcement of Canadian election results.

It is pertinent to note here that Jagmeet Singh is the great grandson of Captain Hira Singh who was the cousin of Indian freedom fighter Sewa Singh Thikriwala.

Sewa Singh Thikriwala was jailed on a fabricated charge of utensil theft by the rulers of the erstwhile Patiala princely state where he died during a hunger strike in 1935. Till date, Jagmeet Singh has visited his ancestral village only once.

An octogenarian retired head teacher Surjit Singh said that his villagers were keeping a close eye on the Canadian elections and many villagers also offered prayers at local Gurdwara Sahib for his victory. “There are many who used to converge near his ancestral house here to offer support,” he added.

A local farmer named Dhanna Singh told the media that Jagmeet Singh has emerged as a role model for the youths of his village as well as the entire Sikh community.

“Jagmeet has brought laurels to Sikhs and Punjabis living across the globe. We hope he will spare time and visit his village,” said another villager Manjit Singh.

Balwant Singh Bhullar, a villager, said celebrations started immediately after villagers got to know about the good performance of the NDP. “Many have been distributing laddoos (sweets) while others have plans to celebrate it like Diwali with special lighting on their houses,” he added.

Festival like atmosphere in village Thikriwala after Jagmeet Singh’s victory

Scroll.in – Canada: 18 Sikh leaders elected to Parliament, five more than India

One of the Sikh leaders, Jagmeet Singh, is being seen as a kingmaker because Justin Trudeau, who lost majority, will need his help to form the government.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 23 October 2019. As many as 18 Sikhs were voted to the Canadian Parliament in the recently-concluded federal elections. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday won a second term after his Liberal Party secured 157 of 338 seats.

However, Trudeau will lead a minority government as his party failed to secure the majority of 170. The main opposition, the conservatives, secured 121 seats.

The number of Sikhs in the Canadian Parliament’s lower house, the House of Commons, is higher than those in India’s Lok Sabha even though Sikhs make up about 2% of the population in both countries, The Times of India reported on Wednesday. India has 13 Sikh MPs in the Lower House.

Among the newly-elected Sikh MPs in Canada, 13 are from the Liberal Party, four from the Conservative Party and one is from the New Democratic Party.

The Liberals include Harjit Singh Sajjan, Randeep Singh Sarai and Sukh Dhaliwal from British Columbia; Navdeep Singh Bains, Gagan Sikand, Rameshwar Singh Sangha, Maninder Singh Sidhu, Kamal Khera, Ruby Sahota, Sonia Sidhu, Bardish Chagger and Raj Saini from Ontario, and Anju Dhillon from Quebec.

Alberta MPs Tim Singh Uppal, Jasraj Singh Hallan and Jag Sahota, and Ontario’s Bob Saroya are Conservative members. New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh won from British Columbia province. Jagmeet Singh is being seen as a kingmaker because Trudeau’s party will need his New Democratic Party’s help to form the government.

The New Democratic Party won 24 seats, losing nearly 50% of the seats it had won in 2015 but the Left-leaning party is still expected to play a major role.


Sikh24.com – Trudeau drops, Singh bounces as voters turn from Liberals

Brian Lilley

Toronto – Ontario – Canada, 12 October 2019. The latest poll conducted for the Sun as part of the DART Maru/Blue Voice Canada Poll shows the Conservatives sitting at 33% support nationally, the Liberals dropping to 28% and the NDP rising to 20%.

Pollster John Wright, partner at DART, notes his is the second poll in the last 48 hours that shows the Liberals dropping below the 30% floor. A previous DART poll showed that just 25% of voters believe the Trudeau Liberals deserve re-election, now those voters that had parked their votes with Trudeau are looking at other options.

“The Liberals now have a multi-front war on their hands for voters,” Wright said.

One front is in Quebec where the Bloc has 35% pulling mostly from the Liberals but also from the Conservatives. In the rest of the country, Trudeau is losing support to a rising NDP under Jagmeet Singh.

The NDP leader’s personal approval rating has been going up over the past couple of weeks but his party’s support numbers had not changed. Wright notes that his poll has the NDP up 5 points since his September 20th numbers were released.

“The findings suggest that previously committed Liberals are likely bleeding to his camp,” Wright said.

The timing couldn’t be worse for the Liberals. The election campaign has just 10 days left to go and many Canadians won’t be paying attention to newscasts over the Thanksgiving weekend but they will be talking politics over turkey.

Trying to turn this around so late in the campaign will be difficult, especially if impressions solidify over the weekend.

The Conservative vote hasn’t changed over the past few weeks but they aren’t yet within striking distance of a majority government. However, if these numbers hold they would undoubtedly win the most seats in a minority Parliament.

Andrew Scheer’s party has seen a jump in British Columbia, which could result in a bump in seats. The Conservatives are now at 38% support in BC, up from 32% in September. The Liberals have fallen five points to 24% and the NDP sit unchanged at 22%.

British Columbia is the place where the Greens could have their best showing. The party currently has two MPs in that province and is sitting at 13% support.

Ontario has been seen as the big prize and the Conservatives, currently at 33%, and Liberals, sitting at 32%, are effectively tied there. The NDP becomes the wild card here as they show a 7 point increase to 18% support.

If the NDP momentum keeps up, the party could not only keep their 8 seats in Ontario but even take some from the Liberals, in particular in Toronto.

This poll comes after a survey by Angus Reid showed similar numbers for the parties and after a poll from Campaign Research showed Singh’s leadership approval skyrocketing to 49%, well above all other party leaders.

This campaign has been a battle between the Liberals and Conservatives with neither party able to break out and take a commanding lead. We still don’t have anyone capable of forming a majority government, but the NDP is making the race interesting.

Expect the Liberals to launch a campaign of fear that will tell NDP voters that unless they vote Liberal, they will elect a Conservative government. Such lines have worked in the past but with so many progressive voters disappointed in Justin Trudeau, it’s doubtful that tactic will work this time.

The survey was undertaken via 1,310 randomly selected Canadian adults who are members of Maru/Blue’s Voice Canada Online panel on 09 October 2019 and is considered accurate to within +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Trudeau drops, Singh bounces as voters turn from Liberals

Agence France Presse – The head of a Canadian political party – who is Sikh – was interrupted at a Montreal market on Wednesday by a passerby who told him to take off his turban to “look like a Canadian” according to video seen on TV.

Jagmeet Singh, the head of the New Democratic Party and a member of the Canadian parliament, is a practicing Sikh who is known for his colorful turbans.

He is the first leader of a Canadian federal political party who is of an ethnic minority.

Singh was meeting with voters at a public market when an older man stopped him.

“You know what? You should cut your turban off. You’ll look like a Canadian,” the man told Singh.

“Oh, I think Canadians look like all sorts of people. That’s the beauty of Canada,” the left-leaning politician replied.

“In Rome, you do as the Romans do,” the member of the public told Singh, who was born in Canada.

“Hey, but this is Canada, you can do whatever you like,” Singh insisted.

The interlocutor ended the exchange with, “All right, take care, eh? I hope you win.”

Singh is scheduled to take part in a debate late Wednesday with leaders of Canada’s other political parties, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Conservative Andrew Scheer and Yves-Francois Blanchet of the Bloc Quebecois, ahead of federal elections later this month.

The politicians are expected to discuss a new Quebec law that bans public officials such as police officers and teachers from wearing religious symbols, including turbans, at work.

The three federal party heads are opposed to the law which is popular in Quebec, one of the main battlegrounds for the October 21 legislative elections.


The Globe and Mail – Jagmeet Singh addresses turban head-on in new Quebec NDP advertisement

Kristy Kirkup

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 04 September 2019. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is including his identity as a turbaned Sikh in his pitch to voters in a province immersed in debate over separating the state from religious symbols.

Mr Singh, who is expected to face a fierce battle in Quebec in the forthcoming campaign, is featured in a new advertisement that begins by showing the leader with his hair down, a marked difference from his usual appearance, where his hair is concealed under coloured turbans.

The ad release comes as Mr Singh is dealing with challenges such as slumping fundraising, naming a roster of candidates and the Tuesday announcement that 14 former candidates from the New Brunswick NDP are now joining the provincial and federal Green parties.

Mélanie Richer, a spokesperson for Mr Singh, played down the announcement from the Greens on Tuesday, adding the NDP will soon be announcing a full slate of candidates in New Brunswick and that “people change their mind for who they would like to support.”

The party is also hoping that through its Quebec advertisement, set to be circulated online and on television, that it can deliver a message that its leader may look different but that he shares progressive values on issues such as climate change.

Intense debate has played out in Quebec over a law barring public-sector employees such as teachers from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.

For his part, Mr Singh said he will not shy away from talking about his turban.

“What I want to achieve with that is assure folks that I kind of get Quebeckers have had to fight, for respect, for space, for their language, for their identity,” he said.

“It has been tough. I’ve had to as well, fight for a lot of things in my life and I get that it is not easy.”

The advertisement amounts to a show of authenticity for the leader, said NDP Quebec lieutenant Alexandre Boulerice, adding Quebeckers will appreciate that he is being genuine about who he is.