Inspiration comes in many colours. 

Indian immigrant becomes UK prime minister. Is Canada next?

As Canadians head to the polls for the municipal elections, many Canadian immigrants will be inspired at the news that Rishi Sunak has emerged Britain’s first prime minister of colour.

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak completed a political comeback Monday, when he was selected prime minister by Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, just seven weeks after he was beaten to office by Liz Truss.

Sunak, 42, will be the fifth British prime minister in six years, the third in less than two months. He is Britain’s first leader of South Asian descent, its first Hindu prime minister, and the nation’s first leader of color. At 42, he will also be the youngest prime minister in more than 200 years.

He won an internal party contest to be the country’s new leader following Truss’ Oct. 20 resignation. Her tenure was the shortest ever for a British prime minister and was marked by economic turmoil. British voters elect a party, not a specific leader, meaning the ruling party has latitude to change a prime minister without calling an election. Sunak won the party contest after his main challenger, Penny Mordaunt, dropped out of the race. He automatically becomes prime minister.

Who is Rishi Sunak?

Sunak’s fast rise to the top of politics followed a privileged upbringing and lucrative marriage.

Sunak is married to the daughter of the co-founder of Infosys, one of India’s largest technology companies, and also one of the country’s richest families. The couple met while studying at Stanford University. They have an estimated wealth of over $1 billion.

Sunak was born and raised in southern England. His mother was a pharmacist and his father a doctor. Before getting his MBA at Stanford, he attended Oxford University and Winchester College, one of Britain’s most prestigious preparatory schools.

Sunak has spoken often about his Indian roots and being a practicing Hindu. He has said lighting Diwali candles outside No. 11 Downing Street – the office and home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer – when finance minister was one of the proudest moments of his career. Sunak was named prime minister during the Hindu religious festival.

Will Canada follow Britain’s footsteps?

Indian immigrant becomes UK prime minister. Is Canada next?

It’s still a long road to travel for any person of color to become Canada’s prime minister. The two leading political parties, the Conservatives and Liberals have no immigrants or person of colors as front runners in leadership.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, for now is the closest at taking a shot at the top of Canada’s politics.

Singh was born on January 2, 1979, in Scarborough, Ontario, to Indian parents Harmeet Kaur and Jagtaran Singh. His mother is from Ghudani Khurd, Punjab, India, while his father is from Thikriwala, Punjab, India.

Ayo Owodunni, an immigrant originally from Nigeria is aiming to make history in Kitchener as the first black person to become a Councillor. Ayo is joining many candidates of colour that are running in the ongoing municipal elections in Canada.

Canada may still be a long way in producing a prime minister of color but it’s not likely to remain a bridge too far, for too long.


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