12/28/2012 05:48 EST | Updated 02/27/2013 05:12 EST

Hard knocks helped shape Takhar

Harinder Takhar, the MPP for Mississauga-Erindale and the province's first cabinet minister of South Asian descent, touts his background as an immigrant as an advantage for being able to relate to the common Canadian experience.

The former minister of government services for Ontario, who resigned from his post to become a contender to replace Dalton McGuinty as leader of the provincial Liberals, grew up in a village of just 300 people in India.

He is the seventh — and latest — entry into the Liberal leadership race.

Takhar immigrated to Canada in 1974 with $25 in his pocket and got married three years later. He soon brought his parents over from India, and they lived with him for nearly 30 years.

He worked multiple jobs and eventually served on the boards of organizations such the United Way, the Peel District School Board and the Credit Valley Hospital.

He said those experiences have taught him how to manage in tough times.

"I have experience making sure every dollar goes as far as you can take it," he said.

The 61-year-old father of two entered politics in 2003.

In his spare time he enjoys gardening and reading.

Takhar said that under his premiership, the economy will be a major goal, and that he will focus on tackling the deficit and spurring job growth.