Vancouver South Liberal winner Harjit Sajjan may have a long history in public service, but October 19 was his first experience winning a federal election.
The former Lieutenant-Colonel and Vancouver Police Department officer has a decorated history protecting and fighting for Canadians and keeping the Vancouver community safe; and now his duties will stretch to Ottawa as the Liberal MP for Vancouver South.
Beating out Conservative incumbent Wai Young, Sajjan replaced popular former Liberal MP and Minister of Health Ujjal Dosanjh in the 2015 election. But despite Vancouver South’s strong Liberal history, Sajjan said he was surprised by the results.
“The strong Liberal majority definitely came as a surprise. We knew that people wanted a change and so just focused on our message, introducing who I am and what our party stands for. It was a surprise to all of us,” he told Vancity Buzz.
Now that he has his first job representing the community in Parliament, he is not sure what he’ll be faced when the House re-opens.
“I don’t really know what to expect in Ottawa. My goal is to figure out the system and have a system in place where I can always commit to the people in my riding and make sure our constituents’ voices are always heard.”
He says his first task will be tackling youth issues and making sure young Canadians are engaged.
“I want to make sure we get a quick sense of inspiration for the younger generation within Vancouver South. There’s a really positive future waiting for our kids, not just with jobs, but Canada’s future in terms of environment. We want to make sure when we inspire our kids we want to show them that they can take Canada to the next level.”
Whatever that next level may be, Sajjan credits a non-partisan approach to politics as an important tactic going forward.
“Before we even start implementing our platform, we focused on our message and never once did we go negative,” he said.
“I think it’s important to focus on a non-partisan cooperation between all parties. It’s important to have different viewpoints, because that’s healthy in a debate. We want to get rid of all this negativity we have seen so much of.”
According to Sajjan’s biography on his website, he worked as a detective in the VPD’s Gang Crime Unit and has long been passionate about youth education and mentorship, with a focus on keeping them out of organized crime.
Editor’s note: This article was amended on October 21, 2015. An earlier version incorrectly noted that Harjit Sajjan had held the rank of General when he was in fact a Lieutenant-Colonel.