Mr. Deepak Obhrai

Deepak Obhrai PC MP (born July 5, 1950) is a Tanzania-born Canadian politician, representing the riding of Calgary Forest Lawn for the Conservative Party of Canada. He formerly served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.[ He is currently the longest continuously-serving Conservative MP. He ran in the 2017 Conservative Party of Canada leadership election but was defeated in the first round of voting

Municipal and provincial politics

In 1993, Obhrai lost a race for an alderman position on Calgary’s city council. He launched a failed bid for the Progressive Conservative nomination for a provincial byelection in Calgary–McCall in 1995, and for Calgary–Montrose in 1996

Federal politics

Obhrai’s successful bid for the Reform Party of Canada nomination in the 1997 federal election was initially obstructed by the local riding association, prompting officials from the office of the party leader, Preston Manning, to intervene. He won the nomination and the riding and was re-elected when the Reform Party became the Canadian Alliance in 2000. In 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2015 he was elected as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. He was also one of four Alliance MPs who agreed to sit with the Progressive Conservative caucus after the December 9, 2003 creation of the merged Conservative Party. The Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parliamentary caucuses were not officially merged until a few weeks later.

As an opposition member, he served as the Opposition critic for International Cooperation, Multiculturalism, International Trade and of CIDA.

In February 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Obhrai as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In March 2008, he was given the additional responsibility of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation, a role he held until November 2008; he would hold the role again from November 2010 to January 2011.

During the 2011 Canadian federal election, Obhrai chose not to appear in an all-candidates debate in his riding, citing that his time was better spent talking with constituents. He also said that he “does not wish to debate a Liberal from Toronto,” a reference to Calgary East Liberal candidate Josipa Petrunic, who despite her employment by the University of Toronto, was born and raised in Calgary, which was also where she conducted her research.

Following his victory in the 2011 election, he discovered that as a result of Gurbax Singh Malhi’s defeat in Bramalea—Gore—Malton, he was now the longest serving remaining member of parliament who was of South Asian and/or African ancestry. Obhrai penned a letter to the editor to the Calgary Herald and to his supporters saying that: “In my birth country, Tanzania, I would henceforth be referred to by the respectful title of Mzee. In South Asia, I would receive the title of Pradhaan. This means I have now reached the ranks of respected elders

Conservative leadership campaign

Obhrai ran in the 2017 Conservative Party of Canada leadership election. The focus of his campaign was promoting Conservative outreach to immigrant communities and opposing proposals by fellow leadership candidate Kellie Leitch to screen immigrants for Canadian values. Having received 0.41% of the vote on the first ballot, Deepak Obhrai was eliminated after the first round.