Rathika Sitsabaiesan

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Rathika Sitsabaiesan
MP
RathikaSitsabaiesanReaders'PickWinner.png
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Scarborough—Rouge River
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 2, 2011
Preceded byDerek Lee[1]
Majority5,000[2]
Personal details
Born(1981-12-23) December 23, 1981 (age 32)[3]
Jaffna, Sri Lanka[4]
CitizenshipCanadian
NationalityCanadian
Political partyNew Democratic Party[1]
ResidenceToronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materCarleton University
Queen’s University
OccupationActivist, community worker
ProfessionLabour Relations Specialist
CommitteesStanding Committee for Citizenship and Immigration, Canadian Heritage
Websitewww.rathika.ca
 
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Rathika Sitsabaiesan
MP
RathikaSitsabaiesanReaders'PickWinner.png
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Scarborough—Rouge River
Incumbent
Assumed office
May 2, 2011
Preceded byDerek Lee[1]
Majority5,000[2]
Personal details
Born(1981-12-23) December 23, 1981 (age 32)[3]
Jaffna, Sri Lanka[4]
CitizenshipCanadian
NationalityCanadian
Political partyNew Democratic Party[1]
ResidenceToronto, Ontario, Canada
Alma materCarleton University
Queen’s University
OccupationActivist, community worker
ProfessionLabour Relations Specialist
CommitteesStanding Committee for Citizenship and Immigration, Canadian Heritage
Websitewww.rathika.ca

Rathika Sitsabaiesan (Tamil: இராதிகா சிற்சபை ஈசன்) (born December 23, 1981) is a member of the House of Commons of Canada for the New Democratic Party, representing Scarborough—Rouge River. She is the first person of Tamil-origin to be elected to federal parliament in Canada and the first female and first person of colour to be elected as Member of Parliament in Scarborough—Rouge River. She is also the youngest Member of Parliament in the Greater Toronto Area.[1]

Early life[edit]

Rathika Sitsabaiesan is seen with her parents & Thomas Mulcair at the Scarborough United Fundraiser event on 17th Octotber, 2013.

Sitsabaiesan was born in Jaffna,[3][4] the capital of the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.[5] She has three elder sisters.[6] At the age of five, Sitsabaiesan and her family emigrated to Canada.[4][6][7]

Sitsabaiesan grew up in Mississauga, west of Toronto.[6] When her father was disabled following a workplace accident, her mother had to give up her nursing studies to work in a warehouse to support the family.[6] Sitsabaiesan attended the University of Toronto for the first two years of her higher education.[1][4] While there, she served as Vice President of the Tamil Students Association.[4] She later transferred to Carleton University, where she completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree.[4][7] During her time at Carleton, Sitsabaiesan served as a Vice President of the Carleton University Students' Association, Caucus Chair of the New University Government and Operations Manager of the Rideau River Residence Association.[4] She holds a Master's degree in Industrial Relations at Queen’s University.[4][7]

Sitsabaiesan is a member of the Board of Directors of the Malvern Community Coalition, a residents' group in Malvern, Toronto.[7] She worked for the University of Toronto Students' Union and the Ontario Labour Relations Board before being elected to Parliament.[4]

Political career[edit]

Sitsabaiesan became involved with the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 2004 when she volunteered for Ed Broadbent's federal election campaign.[4][5] She later served in various roles in the NDP including as a canvasser and campaign manager during the 2008 Canadian federal election.[4] She also served as an advisor on Tamil issues to NDP leader Jack Layton.[5]

In December 2009 Sitsabaiesan won the nomination to be the NDP's candidate in the Scarborough—Rouge River electoral district in Toronto.[6] The late federal NDP leader Jack Layton made his final campaigning stop at Sitsabaiesan's campaign rally a day before the 2011 federal election with his wife and fellow NDP MP Olivia Chow. Scarborough—Rouge River was considered a safe Liberal seat that had been held by Derek Lee (who did not run for re-election in 2011) since its creation 1988.[5][6] Sitsabaiesan won the 2011 Canadian federal election after securing 18,935 votes (40.62%).[2] Sitsabaiesan became the first Tamil Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons of Canada,[3][5][7] the first female Member of Parliament to represent Scarborough-Rouge River,[8] and only the second Tamil woman to be elected to any federal parliament outside India or Sri Lanka, the first being Singaporean Member of Parliament Indranee Rajah.

Sitsabaiesan was subsequently appointed critic for Post-Secondary Education (Human Resources and Skills Development) in the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet in the 41st Canadian Parliament.[9]

Stance on war crime charges on Sri Lanka and support for the LTTE terrorist organization[edit]

Rathika Sitsabaiesan said, "she will take the initiative to form an All Party Parliamentary Committee (APPC) to look into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during the last stages of the war.[3] She further said, she would prioritize the formation of the APPC to "research and come up with recommendations" for the Canadian government over the report by the UN Experts Panel appointed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.[3] Sitsabaiesan added, "For me the focus is people being treated with fairness, equality, dignity and justice... it is important for the culprits to be identified as a move towards genuine reconciliation.[3]

During a fact finding mission in Sri Lanka, Sitsabaiesan was reportedly put under house arrest in Jaffna on December 31, 2013.[10] This claim has been denied by Sri Lankan Authorities,[11] and the Canadian High Commission has confirmed that she was not put under house arrest nor was any arrest warrant issued against her.[12]. This has been widely seen as an attempt by Sitsabaiesan to embarrass the Asian country's government by claiming she faced political intimidation during her visit, either due to her support for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or for personal political gain among the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora in Canada [13] [14].

Awards[edit]

Rathika Sitsabaiesan is the recipient of The V. K. Krishna Menon Institute's "Personality of the Year Award" in 2012. The award was conferred on her for her untiring efforts on human rights issues in Sri Lanka, opposing the persecution of Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka and her ability to represent her constituency without racial and creed prejudices.[15]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2011
PartyCandidateVotes%±ppExpenditures
New DemocraticRathika Sitsabaiesan18,93540.6+26.0$55,192.59
ConservativeMarlene Gallyot13,93529.9+7.4
LiberalRana Sarkar12,69927.2-31.0
GreenGeorge Singh6841.5-2.4
IndependentMark Balack3570.8
Total valid votes/Expense limit46,610100.0
Total rejected ballots2210.5
Turnout46,83156.2
Eligible voters83,285

References[edit]

External links[edit]