Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Islamic leader runs for Tories in Concordia

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THE man at the centre of a controversy in Manitoba's Islamic community has been chosen to run for the provincial Conservatives in Concordia.

Dr. Naseer Warraich works at a number of hospitals in Winnipeg, including Concordia Hospital and Seven Oaks General Hospital.

"My goal is just to serve the people," said Warraich, who lives in Tuxedo but does much of his work in Concordia.

The Pakistan-born Canadian has also volunteered in the community, as chairman of the Association of Pakistani Canadians, co-chairman of the South Asian Broadcaster Foundation and a member of the Punjab Cultural Centre.

He's also served as president of the Manitoba Islamic Association. As its leader, he filed civil suits against several of the board members of the organization that runs the Grand Mosque on Waverley Street.

Those cases have not been settled. Warraich also raised eyebrows in the Muslim community during the federal election campaign earlier this year. The imam at Manitoba's largest mosque told the faithful they shouldn't vote for the federal Conservatives because of their support for ongoing "Israeli aggression on both Lebanon and Palestine." Warraich, as president of the association that runs the mosque, played down the partisan pitch.

"It was just the imam talking about normal things," said Warraich. "People are making up a lot of stories," Warraich said at the time.

On Friday, Warraich said he's running for the Manitoba Conservatives because he wants to make a difference, not because he's abandoned the Liberal party he once supported.

"Whether Liberal, PC or NDP -- they're all Canadian parties and I'm a public servant."

He'll be running in former premier Gary Doer's old riding against NDP candidate Matt Wiebe and Liberal Isaiah Oyeleru.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 30, 2011 A10

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