Sunday, January 14, 2007

Who is Wajid Khan?

Who is this new guy to join the Tory caucus?

The truth about Wajid goes back some time. In truth, I wonder why he ever was a liberal before hand? During my time in the office of Jason Kenney, Wajid was an active promoter of the Stockwell Day leadership cause (round number one) for the Canadian Alliance...yes, you heard it...the Canadian Alliance!

In this odd environment however, I suppose anything goes! Wajid offers the tories some breathing room...for the moment. His cros over to the other side of the floor could perhaps signal some more emboldeness for the government. Rather than gather more than one opposition party, it's possible that only one party at a time will be needed to keep them affloat. Interestingly enough, this same ''stability'' could also be used to the opposite.

For example, let's say one party over the other becomes a target by the conservatives. In shrewd political terms, it becomes easier for the tories to lay the blame of an election on the Bloc, Liberals, or even the NDP! Time will only tell. For now however, the tories have Wajid. Will this man have the considerable influence over foreign policy as predicted in the media? Here are a few snippets describing his background:

Wajid Ali Khan is a Canadian businessman and politician, representing the riding of Mississauga—Streetsville for the Conservative Party. He is also the special advisor of the Prime Minister of Canada for the Middle East and South Asia. Khan served as an officer and pilot in the Pakistan Air Force from 1966 to 1973. He took part in the India-Pakistan war in 1971 as a MiG-19 fighter pilot. He was shot down during one of his missions and spent some time as a Prisoner of War.

He moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1974. Since then, he has emerged as a prominent voice in the city's Pakistani and Muslim communities of the city. Prior to his election, he was the President and CEO of the largest automobile showroom in Canada, that of Dufferin Mazda. He can still be heard advertising for his dealership regularly on the FAN 590 morning Radio Show in Toronto.

Khan supported Paul Martin for the Liberal Party leadership in 2003. He was elected with over 50% support in Mississauga—Streetsville in the 2004 federal election, defeating Conservative Nina Tangri by nearly a 20 percentage point margin.

Along with Yasmin Ratansi, Khan is the first Muslim Member of Parliament (MP) to be elected for the Liberal Party. Rahim Jaffer, also a Muslim MP, had been elected for the Reform Party in 1997. Interestingly, Khan voted against the government's same-sex marriage bill on June 28, 2005.

Khan was re-elected in the 2006 federal election, defeating Conservative Raminder Gill by an 11 percentage point margin. Since his reelection, he has been appointed Associate Critic for National Defense, and most recently Associate Critic for Treasury Board. Khan initially supported Joe Volpe in the 2006 Liberal leadership campaign, and later joined Volpe in throwing his support to Bob Rae.

He was appointed as special advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the Middle East and Afghanistan on August 8, 2006. Khan has emphasized the non-partisan nature of his appointment, noting that he sought and received the approval of Liberal leader Bill Graham prior to taking on the responsibility.

Any thoughts?
Mark Buzan is the owner of Action Strategies, a public affairs & marketing communications consultancy. You can subscribe now to his monthly public affairs newsletter by visiting www.actionstrategies.ca and dropping down the newsletter menu.

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