Canada proved its claim as a diverse country and a land that welcomes immigrants when it swore in four Indian-Canadians as cabinet ministers in the newly elected government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The most prominent among them is first-time Sikh lawmaker Harjit Sajjan who is Canada’s new Defence Minister. Mr Sajjan has been the first Sikh to command a Canadian regiment in a reserve regiment based in British Columbia province.
Mr Sajjan, a decorated police and army official, has served in Afghanistan and Bosnia and has also been a special adviser on Afghanistan twice. “His approach, based on his knowledge of local culture and tribal dynamics, helped senior management to engage with influential Afghan tribal leaders, and led to the identification of insurgent command and control connection points,” according to the Governor General’s website. He is also a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal in March 2013.
The nomination of Mr Sajjan as the Liberal Party candidate from Vancouver South last year attracted controversy when many Sikh leaders resigned from the Liberal Party, alleging that the party leadership has been ‘manipulated’ by hardliner Sikhs of the World Sikh Organisation. Mr Sajjan’s father Kundan Sajjan is a board member of the WSO, which is alleged to have hardline sympathies.
After years of Conservative rule by Stephen Harper led to dissent the expectations from the new Canadian government is high. Mr Trudeau is one of the youngest Prime Ministers at 43. Canada has said it will withdraw fighter jets from the US-led coalition and stick to training Iraqi troops. Mr Sajjan has a major task of reshaping Canada’s combat mission fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The three other cabinet members of Indian origin included Navdeep Bains as Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Amarjeet Sohi as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Bardish Jhagger, a first-time MP, was sworn in as Minister for Small Business and Tourism.
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