Liberals expel backbencher following ‘baseless and dangerous’ remarks

By: Terry Haig
A Liberal backbencher has been expelled from the party’s caucus for inflammatory comments he allegedly made last week about other members of the party in a Punjabi-language interview
Ramesh Sangha, the MP for Brampton Centre in Ontario, made the comments about Liberal MP Navdeep Bains and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, both of whom are Sikhs.
Sangha, a former lawyer who will now sit as an independent, was first elected to Parliament in 2015.He made the comments on Y Media, a streaming channel directed at Canada’s South Asian community.
Joan Byden of The Canadian Press reports that Sangha “suggested Bains and Sajjan were Khalistani ‘extremists’ who supported the creation of an independent Sikh homeland, known as Khalistan, in the Punjab region of India.”
“If you state you’re an extremist, or a Khalistani, and we have seen this in America, are leaders with extremist ideas fit to be ministers? I have my doubts,” Bryden reports Sangha saying.
CBC News did not specify what Sangha said, reporting that it had reached out to Sangha’s office but had received no response.
In a statement, Government whip Mark Holland said Sangha was removed from caucus after making what Holland said were “baseless and dangerous accusations” against a number of fellow Liberal MPs.
Holland didn’t say what the accusations were.
“Liberals have been clear that they won’t tolerate ‘conspiracy theories or dangerous and unfounded rhetoric about parliamentarians or other Canadians,’” he said.
Holland said it was not unusual for many Canadians to “experience suspicions because of their background” and that the Liberal caucus stands firm against racism and intolerance.
In her report, CP’s Bryden writes that “Sangha suggested Bains may have resigned from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet earlier this month because of his extremist views.”
In making his announcement that he was stepping down as Industry Minister, Bains cited family reasons and said he would not be running in the next federal election.
His resignation prompted a cabinet shuffle involving Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, who replaced Bains, Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who moved to Foreign Affairs, and Omar Alghabra, who was promoted to cabinet to take over Transport.
As of Tuesday morning, Sangha has not responded to interview requests.
With files from CBC News (Ryan Patrick Jones), The Canadian Press (Joan Bryden)