By Mata Press Service
Amandeep Singh spent the better part of the mid-2000s destroying what he had built.
Fuelled by the ravages of alcoholism, the human and civil rights lawyer, would be just another statistic today if not for the friends and family who reached out and dragged him away from the bottle.
“I have seen and experienced first-hand what addiction can do to you and your families,’ said Amandeep, 48.
“My family suffered, my friends disappeared, my career plummeted and my finances fell apart but all I was concerned about was finding the next drink,” he said.
Today, after being sober for the better part of the last decade, Amandeep has decided it’s time to use his legal and life experiences to give back to the place and the people he loves.
He is the NDP candidate for Richmond’s new provincial riding of Richmond-Queensborough, where he has lived for 23 years.
“I am back to where I was before and I want to share my story of recovery because recovery is possible,” said Amandeep, whose central platform revolves around timely assistance and rehab for those plagued with drug and alcohol addiction.
“The mental health issues that accompany these diseases impact a huge number of people and we need systems in place that help everyone in the chain including parents, children, spouses etc,” he said.
“How many times do we have to hear about people and families falling through the cracks…the system we have now is inaccessible and fractured..there is no cohesiveness to help people on the road to recovery,” said Amandeep.
The current fentanyl crisis, that has claimed hundreds of lives in BC, shows the Liberals are at a loss as what to do.
“There simply is no long term plan and I intend to fix that with the NDP,” he said.
Born in India and raised in Hong Kong, Amandeep and his family moved to Richmond when he was 18. He studied Anthropology and Physics at the University of California in Berkeley, and obtained his Law degree from the University of Victoria.
His law practice focusses in the areas of civil, human rights law as it intersects with criminal and international law.
The socially conscious small business owner has made it a priority to donate his time to people and organizations close to his heart, working closely with Indigenous groups, national and international non-governmental organizations.
“There needs to be a balance that must be met in a society for economic prosperity to be genuine, sustainable, and socially responsible,” he said.
Amandeep attributes his desire to give back to the community to his father who celebrated his 76th birthday last week.
“He is an incredible man…He walked with his family through untold perils across the newly made border between India and Pakistan in 1947. Went on to look for adventures and a better life in Bangkok and Hong Kong where he settled for almost 3 decades before we all immigrated, yet again to Richmond, Canada.”
“This man has seen it all, from working as a door man, to a security guard on docked ships, to an interpreter in the courts and eventually becoming one of the most respected and successful Punjabi businessmen in Hong Kong.
“His success was his generosity of spirit. He taught me that you can run a successful business and be socially responsible and generous at the same time,” said Amandeep, who also speaks Cantonese, Punjabi and Hindi.
His diverse background and the ability to converse in multiple languages reflects the constituents in the 92 square kilometres riding of Richmond-Queensborough.
The new riding contains farms in the centre, suburbs in its west and east, new immigrant families in some areas and long-established communities in others and more major bridges and tunnels — the Knight, Queensborough, Oak and Alex Fraser Bridges, along with the Massey Tunnel — than anywhere else in B.C.
Each of the 3,550 households in the riding has about 3.1 people which is the fifth highest in B.C.
“I have made it a point to visit as many of these households before the election.
“We’re fighting to win in 2017 so we can stand up for our community.
“But ultimately it is not about winning or losing,”
“It’s about getting my message heard.”
Have you registered to vote?
Who can vote?
Canadian citizens, 18 years or older on election day, who have lived in British Columbia for the last six months and are registered to vote can vote in the provincial election.Elections BC has sent voter registration notices to every residential address in B.C. The notices show the voters registered at that address. If the information is incorrect or needs updating, residents can update their information at Elections BC's online voter registration website or call 1-800-661-8683.
The deadline to register by phone or online is April 11. Voters can still register in person at the time of voting. (CBC)
Important voting dates
Last day to register is on April 11, registration by phone and online closes. If you miss this deadline, you will still be able to register at the time of voting at a voting place.
Saturday April 29 to Sunday April 30 (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time)
Wednesday May 3 to Saturday May 6 (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local tme)
Tuesday May 9 (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT)
Where can you vote?
In B.C., all voters can vote in any voting place in the province for their specific district of residence. An updated list will be available on the Elections BC's website closer to the election.
Vote by mail
Eligible voters can vote by mail. Vote-by-mail packages can be requested through the Elections BC website, by calling 1-800- 661-8683, or at a district electoral office.
If you are picking up your package at a district electoral office, you must do so by 4 p.m. PT on May 9, 2017.
All vote-by-mail packages must be returned to the district electoral office that issued the package by 8 p.m. PT on May 9, 2017.
If you are outside of the province or country, it is advised you requestyour vote by mail package well ahead of the deadline so it can be returned by the deadline.