With his charming personality, great sense of style and confident leadership, the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Bramalea-Gore-Malton is well-known as a trailblazer in Ontario politics.
Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal, deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, is a popular face in Canadian politics. With his charming personality, great sense of style and confident leadership, the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Bramalea-Gore-Malton is well-known as a trailblazer in Ontario politics.
A former criminal defence lawyer, it was Dhaliwal’s profession that led him onto the path of a political career. “As a university student I participated in movements to end poverty, make tuition more affordable, increase rights for immigrants and refugees, promote peace and defend human rights. I continued my involvement in the issues as a law student and then as a lawyer. Some of the groups I worked with encouraged me to get involved in politics. It took six months to convince me, I finally agreed and the rest is history,” explains Dhaliwal.
As a politician, his vision for Canada is “to build a country with shared prosperity for all, where all enjoy just access to the resources they need and no one faces any form of discrimination.” He advocates for “fairness and justice” because he believes that all humans are entitled to it.
Dhaliwal’s role as a deputy leader is something that he sees as a great platform to work for the people and their issues. “[My plan is] is to continue to fight for everyday people and put their needs first and foremost,” says Dhaliwal, who is the first turban-wearing Sikh to sit as a MPP, as well as the first to hold a deputy leader position in Canada.
While talking about these honours bestowed upon him, the 38-year-old politician credits it to “universal oneness.” He elaborates, “I credit the Sikh principles of equality and justice for motivating me to work for the betterment of all people.”
The young leader has great plans for his region as MPP. To begin with, he would like “to see a reduction in the growing inequality in our province.” His other goals include an end to the exploitation of workers by temporary job agencies, lower auto insurance rates which don’t punish people for living in particular neighbourhoods, increased minimum wage, better access to healthcare, and more support for our education system. “I would also like to see our electricity system remain public and work for the interest of the people,” adds the Brampton resident.
Taking up so many roles and responsibilities and fulfilling expectations and promises is no easy task – yet Dhaliwal has managed to perform and deliver so brilliantly. I ask him what inspires him to work so diligently for the residents and the country at large, he answers, “I believe in the intrinsic dignity of all people and that all have a right to live with dignity and justice. I believe we are connected not only to each other but also to the planet and all life forms so we must live in a way that respects this reality as well.”
Beyond his leadership qualities, Dhaliwal has garnered attention and admiration for his dressing sense. In fact, he admits that he has tried to use style as a way to challenge stereotypes and create conversations. “Fashion is like a language, I use it to communicate. My goal is to use style to talk about issues of justice and fairness. I’m honoured by the positive reaction and that it gives me another platform,” says the style icon who has designed some of his suits himself.
Dhaliwal, who has made it to the list of Most Stylish Politician In Canada By Like A Million Kilometres, Toronto Style Maker, and Toronto’s Best Dressed, believes that his sense of style has indeed helped to challenge stereotypes about his appearance and has opened the door to new conversations.
As Vaisakhi, the festival of Sikhs, takes place in April, I ask Dhaliwal the significance of the festival in his life. “I celebrate Vaisakhi through mediation and reflection. Vaisakhi is not only a festival for harvest but it also commemorates the creation of the Khalsa. The Khalsa literally means the liberated person, one who is free. Celebrating Vaisakhi is an opportunity to celebrate our innate freedom and the equality of all people,” he expresses.
Before concluding, he sends out a special festive message to everyone, “We all have the right to be free and celebrate our innate dignity. Vaisakhi is about celebrating our liberty and working towards the liberation of all people. I encourage everyone to connect with their infinite limitlessness and work towards greater justice for all.”