Pakistan

Two Pakistani women emerge victorious in Canadian general elections

Two Canadian women of Pakistani origin Iqra Khalid and Salma Zahid have emerged victorious in the country’s general elections in their respective constituencies in Mississauga-Erin-Mills and Scarborough Centre.

Ms Khalid won after a hard-fought against Conservative incumbent Bob Dechert in the redrawn Mississauga-Erin-Mills riding. Iqra Khalid, a young Pakistani-Canadian woman works as a legal professional for the City of Mississauga.

The rivals were toe-to-toe all evening in what was considered a stronghold for the Conservatives but the party’s perceived anti-Muslim agenda likely cost it the riding populated by the Muslim community.

Dechert, a corporate lawyer who has been defeated by Khalid, was first elected to the former Mississauga-Erindale riding in 2008 and re-elected in 2011. More than 16 per cent of the riding’s population identified themselves as Muslims in the 2011 National Household Survey.

Similarly, Ms Zahid won the riding for nearly 20 straight years before it went Tory blue in the last election. “Scarborough families tonight voted for real change,” she said as dozens gathered to toast her, including former MPP George Smitherman. “I will work hard to deliver the results they deserve.”

Conservative incumbent Roxanne James was elected in 2011 by a margin of less than 4 per cent, just barely holding off Liberal John Cannis, who had been elected for six consecutive terms since 1993.

Her platform focused on protecting the safety of families, with promises of tougher sentences for violent criminals and support programs for at-risk youth.

For the Liberals, Salma Zahid’s platform was based largely on transit infrastructure, youth employment and moving to repeal the Conservatives’ Bill C-24.

A mother of two, Zahid moved her family to Scarborough 15 years ago and has since worked as a senior adviser to the Ontario government on health care, infrastructure, citizenship and tourism.

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