B.C. NDP nominates Rachna Singh in Surrey–Green Timbers

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      An antiracist activist who works for the Canadian Union of Public Employees will carry the B.C. NDP banner in one of its safer seats.

      Rachna Singh was acclaimed today as the party's candidate in Surrey–Green Timbers, which has been represented by Sue Hammell since 2005.

      Singh was raised in Chandigarh in the northwestern Indian state of Punjab. She moved to Surrey in 2001.

      In an interview with the Georgia Straight earlier this month, Singh said that she wants to turn the minimum wage into an election issue in her constituency. 

      "People of Surrey–Green Timbers have been struggling under the Liberals," she maintained. "We all know what is happening with housing prices, as well as with the premiums for MSP [medical services plan], ICBC, [and] Hydro. They're all going up."

      B.C. NDP leader John Horgan has pledged to boost the minimum wage to $15 per hour during the first term of an NDP government.

      Singh suggested there's a significant number of Surrey residents making considerably less than that.

      In December, Singh hosted a forum at SFU's Surrey campus to raise awareness about growing white supremacy in the wake of Donald Trump's election as U.S. president.

      Her political activism came naturally: her grandfather was involved in the Indian independence movement, first with the Congress party and later with the Communists.

      Meanwhile, her father has been publisher of a Punjabi literary magazine called Sirjana since the early 1960s. And Singh's husband, Gurpreet Singh, is a well-known broadcaster on Spice Radio, as well as a cofounder of Radical Desi magazine and a contributor to the Georgia Straight.

      The couple has two children who attend public schools.

      Rachna Singh accused the Christy Clark government of shortchanging public education as premier and earlier, as B.C.'s education minister.

      "We all know what happened with the Supreme Court decision that just came in November," she said, alluding to a ruling that found the government had violated the constitutional rights of B.C. Teachers' Federation members by refusing to negotiate class size and composition.

      Hammell announced earlier this month that she won't seek reelection in the diverse constituency, which is home to people who speak 50 languages.

      Singh is one of seven B.C. NDP candidates of South Asian ancestry nominated to run south of the Fraser River.

      The others are MLA Harry Bains (Surrey-Newton), former MLA Jagrup Brar (Surrey-Fleetwood), former MP Jinny Sims (Surrey-Panorama), lawyer Aman Singh (Richmond-Queensborough), former Olympics field-hockey star Ravi Kahlon (Delta North), and school trustee Preet Rai (Abbotsford West).

      The B.C. Liberals have not yet nominated a candidate in Surrey–Green Timbers.

      The provincial election will be held on May 9.