“Four Sri Lankans participating in the Election process a testament to the community’s deepening engagement in the electoral process”
“Gary Anandasangaree – He will be the second Sri Lankan Canadian Member of Parliament.”
“Historic opportunity and responsibility that Canada now has in critically engaging the Government of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan civil society to address ongoing post-conflictissues, which will “pave the path for accountability in Sri Lanka”.
By Siva Sivapragasam
Sri Lankans Without Borders (SLWB) has congratulated Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada on a hard-fought victory in the 42nd Canadian Federal Election that was held on October 19, 2015.
Sri Lankans Without Borders (SLWB) is a registered not-for-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada that provides an independent, transparent, and inclusive platform for Canadians to connect, build and lead initiatives that promote dialogue and cross-community engagement between Sri Lanka’s diaspora communities in Canada.
The following is the full statement issued by the SLWB:
“The Press Release issued by the SLWB The 2015 election decisively ended a 10-year Conservative streak as Canadians sent a Liberal majority government to Ottawa. The gruelling 78-day campaign, one of the longest in recent memory, saw a number of issues take centre stage, including the economy, legislation such as Bills C-51 and C-24, the niqab ban, the Syrian refugee crisis, the Senate expenses scandal, and personal attacks. In the end, Canadians opted for a more youthful and hopeful change in their next government.
The 2015 election was also significant for a number of other reasons. This year’s election saw all the main parties field a record high number of female, indigenous, openly LGBT, and visible minority candidates. With a high voter turnout of 68.5% and increased youth engagement, Canadians voted in more women (26%), indigenous (3%) and visible minority (14%), and as many openly LGBT (2%) candidates compared to the 2011 election. Of these, four Sri Lankan Canadians contested in the 2015 election – a testament to the community’s deepening engagement in the electoral process:
- Gary Anandasangaree, a lawyer and community activist, won his riding of Scarborough-Rouge Park with 60% of the votes, beating his Conservative opponent as well as the NDP candidate and fellow Sri Lankan Canadian, Reverend K.M. Shanthikumar. Gary will be the second Sri Lankan Canadian Member of Parliament.
- Rathika Sitsabaiesan, the first Sri Lankan Canadian Member of Parliament and former NDP Opposition Critic for Post-Secondary Education, was unseated in Scarborough North by her Liberal opponent after garnering 22% of the votes.
- Roshan Nallaratnam, a law enforcement professional and the Conservative candidate for Scarborough Southwest, finished in third place with 21% of the votes that saw the riding change hands from the NDP to the Liberals.
- Senthi Chelliah, an entrepreneur and the NDP candidate for Markham-Thornhill, finished in third place with 11% of the votes.
SLWB also urges Prime Minister-designate Trudeau to maintain Canada’s critical spotlight on Sri Lanka as it emerges from the 30-year-old civil war that came to a brutal end in 2009.
Sri Lankan Canadians continue to closely monitor post-war developments in Sri Lanka as the country explores the implementation of the recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights Office following its international investigation (OISL Report) into “alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties (the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) in Sri Lanka during the period 2002-11.”
As the Liberal Party of Canada stated earlier this year, Sri Lankan Canadians hope that their new government will keep its commitment to “seeking accountability and justice for the many who have suffered the terrible consequences of this protracted war, and to working with the international community to pursue true and lasting peace on the island.”
Sri Lankan Canadians also recognize the historic opportunity and responsibility that Canada now has in critically engaging the Government of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan civil society to address ongoing post-conflict issues, which will “pave the path for accountability in Sri Lanka”.
To do this, SLWB calls upon the newly elected Government of Canada to make it possible for all Sri Lankan Canadians, who are neighbours from across the political spectrum, to participate directly through an open and inclusive process to help shape Canada’s new foreign policy on Sri Lanka – one that will press for both meaningful reconciliation and sustainable development as means to achieve economic prosperity for all citizens of the island nation.”