Gulzar Singh Cheema

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Gulzar Singh Cheema

Gulzar Singh Cheema (born August 11, 1954) is an Indian-born doctor and a Canadian politician. Cheema was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba[1] from 1988 to 1993, and a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia from 2001 to 2004, making him one of only a few Canadian politicians to sit in two provincial legislatures since Confederation. He is the first Indian born to be elected MLA in Canada. He was also a cabinet minister in the government of Premier of British Columbia Gordon Campbell from 2001 to 2004, and was a candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada in the federal election of 2004.

Dr. Gulzar S. Cheema, MD CCFP was elected in B.C. in May 2001 to represent the riding of Surrey-Panorama Ridge. On June 05, 2001 Dr. Gulzar Cheema was appointed as a member of the Executive Council for the Government of B.C. as Minister of State for Mental Health. On January 26, 2004 Dr. Cheema was appointed as a member of the Executive Council for the Government of B.C. as Minister of State for Immigration and Multicultural Services. He was also a member of the Legislative Assembly in Manitoba for five years and served as critic for health, labour, housing, native affairs, sport and co-operatives, and consumer and corporate affairs. Before his election to the British Columbia Legislative Assembly, Dr. Cheema was a family doctor in Surrey; he has also practised medicine in Winnipeg and rural Manitoba. He received his bachelor of medicine and surgery from India’s Punjab University, interned at the University of Newfoundland and was a resident at Saskatoon’s University Hospital. In 1992 he was awarded the Canada 125 Medal for community service. To promote the health and welfare of the community, Dr. Cheema participates weekly on local multicultural radio talk shows and M Channel, a local multicultural T.V. Channel. Presently Dr. Cheema is practicing family medicine and is a clinical instructor for the Department of Family Practice at UBC as well as the Medical director for iCON South Asian Division eHealth Strategy Office Faculty of Medicine, UBC. He currently lives in Surrey, British Columbia with his wife and children.

In the Manitoba general election of 1988, Cheema was elected as a Liberal in the northeastern Winnipeg riding of Kildonan. The Liberals went from one to twenty seats in the Manitoba legislature in this election, winning several Winnipeg seats from the governing New Democratic Party (NDP). Cheema defeated Progressive Conservative candidate John Baluta by 585, with NDP incumbent Marty Dolin finishing third. The Progressive Conservatives came out of the election with a minority government, and Cheema became a member of the official opposition. Cheema increased his margin of victory in the 1990 provincial election, but the Liberal Party fell to seven seats and third-party status. He resigned his seat on June 17, 1993.

Soon afterwards, he opened a family practice in Surrey, British Columbia. Cheema became involved in several community activities in British Columbia, including acting as chair of the 1998 British Columbia Games for Athletes with Disabilities' medical section. Although the British Columbia Liberal Party is usually regarded as significantly more right-wing than the Manitoba party, Cheema nevertheless ran as a BC Liberal in that province's 1996 provincial election. He was unsuccessful, finishing 380 votes behind New Democratic Party candidate Ian Waddell in Vancouver-Fraserview. The BC New Democrats experienced a sharp decline in their popularity between 1996 and 2001, and the provincial Liberals were elected in a landslide in that year's provincial election. Cheema had no difficulty being elected in Surrey-Panorama Ridge, defeating NDP candidate Bruce Ralston by over 6,000 votes. On June 5, 2001, he was appointed Minister of State for Mental Health Services. On January 20, 2004, he was appointed Minister of State for Immigration and Multicultural Services.

Later in 2004, Cheema sought and won the federal Liberal nomination in the new riding of Fleetwood—Port Kells. He was removed from cabinet hours after submitting his nomination papers, and subsequently resigned as a provincial Member of the Legislative Assembly (Canadian politicians seeking federal office are usually required to step down from their provincial responsibilities.) In a relatively close three-way race, Cheema was defeated by Conservative candidate Nina Grewal, 14,052 votes to 11,568 (New Democratic Party candidate Barry Bell received 10,976 votes).

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