Brampton North Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna sticks with Tory talking points while touting working-class, immigrant credentials 
Photos by Mansoor Tanweer

Brampton North Conservative candidate Arpan Khanna sticks with Tory talking points while touting working-class, immigrant credentials 

It’s been a whirlwind week for Arpan Khanna. The Conservative candidate is challenging Liberal incumbent Ruby Sahota for her Brampton North seat. She currently appears to hold a sizeable lead over him, polling at 42.3 percent versus his 32 percent, according to website, a survey aggregator that also uses demographic modeling.

Running for the NDP is Melissa Edwards; for the Greens, Norbert D’Costa; and for the People’s Party, Keith Frazer.

Looking sleep-deprived at a gathering at his campaign headquarters on Thursday, Khanna was losing his voice to fatigue laryngitis, which he attributed to all the door-knocking he’s been doing. However, he had invited members of the Black community to his base with the aim of having “a direct conversation” with everyone present and to share “who I am.” 

“I am born and raised in this riding. I’ve been here my whole life. I grew up in the M-section. Now I live in Springdale, where the soccer centre is,” Khanna said, laying out his history. “My parents are from a working-class family; my mom works today as a minimum-wage security guard. So I understood the challenges a lot of immigrant families face.” He attended Western University, earning a law degree and is currently continuing his articling period. 

The tone of the night was largely positive, with attendees singing Khanna’s praises. “I am impressed by the energy you exude,” said one. 

“I had to talk to members of our community and say, ‘Listen, come out and come see this guy. This guy is for real,” said another.        

The gathering was strong on introductions but light on policy, with Khanna shedding little light on his views on key issues affecting local voters.

Khanna was forced to answer some particularly uncomfortable questions last week over a 2010 social media post that included a homophobic slur. Liberal opponent Ruby Sahota condemned the use of the word, saying in reference to Khanna, “Scheer promised to show the door to any intolerant Conservative. Will he?” 

Khanna tweeted his regrets, writing: “I deeply regret the offensive language I used when I was a teenager. I have come to understand that creating safer and more inclusive spaces LGBTQ+ people in Canada happens in our homes, workplaces, on social media, and in the conversations we have every day. I apologize unequivocally.”

Nationally, the campaign so far has seen salvo after salvo of accusations alleging improprieties among candidates across the political spectrum. With at least one other Conservative candidate stepping down over recently unearthed discriminatory comments, Winnipeg North candidate Cameron Ogilvie, and Leader Andrew Scheer backtracking on past remarks regarding abortion, the public is asking: who exactly will they be getting on the blue side of the aisle?

Khanna was able to steal away from the community meeting for a conversation with The Pointer in which he shared his own views on the indiscretions of other candidates. The news of the day had been dominated by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s now infamous admission that he had worn blackface and brownface makeup on more than one occasion years ago, for which Khanna was unforgiving.

“It was disgusting and racism has no place. Especially [since] he is a teacher who was 29 years old,” Khanna said, condemning Trudeau’s action. “He’s lost the trust, he’s lost the moral compass to govern. He [clung] to this image of being something he is not and now it’s coming crashing down.” 

Asked about the views on abortion and same-sex marriage that Scheer has been under fire for expressing, Khanna said, “Andrew Scheer has been very clear on this matter, it’s something that’s been closed for debate. He has moved on; the law of the land has decided.” As to his personal views, he said of abortion: “I think this debate is closed.” On same-sex marriage, he said, “it’s the law of the land. There was a debate 15 to 20 years ago, but it’s the law of the land; we believe in an inclusive society for all Canadians. It doesn’t matter who you love, what language you speak, where you come from.”    

He expressed a personal dislike of cannabis, though he admits to having tried it once in high school. Once again, he channeled Scheer on the matter of cannabis legalization. The law legalizing its use is now in place, and repeal will not be explored, he said. 

“But what we would do is look at making sure, how can we add regulations and add a system to make sure that those most vulnerable are not being targeted.” It appears that the black market that legalization was supposed to eliminate is still thriving, and Canada’s cannabis legislation may require a second look, he said. 


On the subject of immigration and whether he would support any bill reducing the 350,000-person quota by 2021 set out by the Liberal government, Khanna said politicians are “playing a lot of games and having created our immigration as an auction.” 

He said a Conservative government would “have to” look at the quota to make sure that “it is not treated as an auction. Politicians should not be throwing out numbers. They should see what fits for Canada and we should be looking at it based on Canada’s needs.” 

He said he would prefer to wait till his party wins the election to offer ideas on how to reform the immigration system. However, he lamented the burden an influx of refugee claimants across the Quebec border has placed on resources. 

When asked to talk about his own personal perspective rather than the party’s stance, he said, “my party’s stance is my stance.”


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