The South Asian Bar Association of British Columbia congratulates the Honourable Raj Chouhan on his historic election as Speaker of the House for the British Columbia Legislature. Mr. Chouhan becomes the first South Asian to ever be elected as the Speaker of the House for the British Columbia Legislature, and the first Punjabi person from India to ever be elected as Speaker of a legislature in North America.
Mr. Chouhan was first elected as the MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds in 2005 and was re-elected in 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2020. Mr. Chouhan has served as Deputy Speaker, Assistant Deputy Speaker and as Official Opposition critic for labour, human rights, multiculturalism and immigration. On December 7, 2020, Mr. Chouhan was elected the Speaker of the House for the British Columbia Legislature.
Mr. Chouhan immigrated to Canada in 1973. As a student in India, Mr. Chouhan was actively involved in student union activities. Upon his arrival to Canada, Mr. Chouhan was greatly impacted by the plight of other immigrant workers and the wide disparity between the rich and poor in a prosperous country. This contributed to his ongoing advocacy for community and social justice for workers. Mr. Chouhan is the founding president of the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union and served as the director of bargaining for the Hospital Employees Union for 18 years. Mr. Chouhan also served as a member of the Labour Relations Board of B.C. and the Arbitration Bureau of B.C.
A founding member of the B.C. Organization to Fight Racism, Mr. Chouhan has worked relentlessly in promoting human rights and racial equality. He has served as the vice-president of B.C. Human Rights Defenders since 2003. Mr. Chouhan has taught courses on human rights, the B.C. Labour Code and collective bargaining since 1987. He has also travelled across Canada to give seminars and attend conferences that raise the awareness of issues such as racism, poverty, worker rights and discrimination. Mr. Chouhan continues to support organizations in his community and has helped to promote diverse programs including neighbourhood safety, refugee assistance and health and wellness programs for seniors.
SABABC invites its members to join in congratulating Mr. Chouhan on his historic achievement. His appointment will no doubt serve as a beacon for immigrants wishing to pursue public office in British Columbia and in Canada. SABABC implores its members to seek out public office if they desire and will support its members in any such endeavours.