Gulzar S. Cheema

Gulzar Singh Cheema

Dr. Gulzar Singh Cheema (born April 13, 1954) is a Canadian politician. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba 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 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.

Cheema was born into a Sikh family in Baryar Village, in a remote section of the Gurdaspur district in Punjab, India. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in medicine and surgery from Punjab University in 1977, and worked as a clinical instructor for the next two years. Cheema moved to Canada in 1979, and he spent time working in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan before starting a family practice in rural Manitoba. He later practiced in Winnipeg.

Manitoba politics

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.

BC politics

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.

Federal politics

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).

See also

Cheema

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