Edmonton, Dec. 15, 2004
Raj 70, a retired professor, scored a hat-trick
last month when he got elected for the third
time from Edmonton
Since arriving on the Alberta political scene
in 1997, Raj Pannu has become one of the most
respected political leaders in Alberta.
Raj was born in Punjab, India in 1934 and
has been politically active from an early
Raj took his undergraduate education in India
before coming to Canada in 1962. Immediately
on arrival, he and his partner Swinder settled
in Whitecourt where he taught high school
until June 1964 when they moved to Edmonton.
There, Raj commenced a graduate program in
the fall of 1965 at the University of Alberta,
finishing his doctorate degree in sociology
He was appointed as assistant professor at
York University in July 1968. After teaching
there for one year he returned to the University
of Alberta in 1969 as a full-time faculty
member. Raj went on to teach in the departments
of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology
for the next 27 years before early retirement
Raj was elected to the Alberta Legislature
to represent Edmonton Strathcona on March
11, 1997. He initially served as the New Democrat
Opposition House Leader and the caucus spokesperson
on a number of portfolios including environment,
education, advanced education, energy, human
rights and justice.
He took over as Leader of the Alberta New
Democrats in February of 2000, leading the
party throughout the fight on Bill 11. He
fought the 2001 general election, gaining
respect and popularity for his principled
and tough views on health care, education,
and social justice.
Raj was re-elected in Edmonton-Strathcona
in 2001, taking over 50% of the vote, defying
many media predictions that he would lose
Raj has resided in the Strathcona area of
Edmonton for more than three decades and has
been an active member of the community. He
served as a member of the Fort Edmonton Park
Management Committee and, in 1996, briefly
worked with Citizens for Quality Communities
Tell us something about yourself not many
I love to garden and take walks with my wife
Swinder and Flossie our dog.
What are two issues you are *most* passionate
The longer I have sat as an MLA the more concerned
I have become about integrity in politics.
I am also very concerned about the future
of two institutions which are basic to our
Canadian identity: public healthcare and public
What's unique about your riding?
Its diversity and its cultural and artistic
richness - who doesn't enjoy the Fringe and
the Farmers' Market?
What are you most *famous* for?
Standing up to the Government's health privatization
agenda, both inside the Assembly and on the
steps of the Legislature. See magazine named
me the most effective and passionate voice
in the Legislature.
A Tory policy you are least satisfied
There are so many - but the ideological drive
to privatize public facilities such as hospitals.
What do you dislike most about politics?
The focus on empty rhetoric rather than meaningful
So why did you decide to run, then?
I have unfinished work - there is a lot more
to be done to try to address the failed policies
of the Klein government.
If you weren't an MLA, what else would
you be doing?
I would be gardening and walking with my wife
Your favourite hockey memory?
The Oiler's first Stanley Cup win.
What is the Alberta Advantage to you?
With our resources I think the Alberta Advantage
should mean that we don't have people sleeping
on the streets or lining up at food banks.
It should mean the finest education and health
care, vibrant and safe communities.
In THREE words, describe why we should
vote for you?
Integrity, passion and commitment.
Your thoughts on the upcoming NHL or CFL
I hope there is one.
Place you visit most often in your riding?
Strathcona Farmers' Markert.
Best advice you have received (for running
in an election):
Be honest with voters.