Three Sikhs sworn in as cabinet ministers in Canada

Harjit Sajjan got the key position of defense minister

By Sreekanth A NairCANADA-SIKH-MINISTERS
Harjit Sajjan, Navdeep Bains and Amarjeet Sohi (Courtesy of Twitter)

The Canadian Parliament witnessed a new record when three Sikhs were sworn in as ministers in the cabinet of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.

Indian Canadian Harjit Sajjan, who has served in Canadian armed force, got the key position as defense minister. Navdeep Bains was appointed as the minister of innovation, science and economic development and Amarjeet Sohi got the portfolio of infrastructure.

42-year-old Harjit Sajjan was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and a combat veteran. He has served in Bosnia and Afghanistan and was elected from Vancouver South.

Earlier, Sajjan worked in the Vancouver Police Department for 11 years and served as a detective for the gang crime unit.

He has received many military awards including Meritorious Service Medal in 2013 for his efforts in Afghanistan to tackle Taliban. He is also a recipient of the Order of Military Merit, one of the military’s highest recognitions. Sajjan also served as an Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.

Sajjan was born in Punjab and his family immigrated to Canada when he was five.

When Sajjan was nominated as the Liberal Party candidate from Vancouver South last year, there was a controversy regarding the membership of Sajjan’s father in World Sikh Organization, which is alleged to have hardline sympathies.

Navdeep Bains was a distinguished visiting professor at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management and holds an MBA with a specialization in Finance. As a Certified Management Accountant, 38-year-old Bains has worked several years in accounting and financial analysis for the Ford Motor Company of Canada.

Bains was elected from Mississauga–Malton. He has served as the Member of Parliament for Mississauga–Brampton South from 2004 to 2011. He was born in Toronto, Ontario to entrepreneur immigrant parents.

Amarjeet Sohi became the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Mill Woods. He has served as an Edmonton City Councilor for three times.

Sohi has been a prominent leader on municipal and provincial issues, volunteering with Public Interest Alberta, the Centre for International Alternatives, and the Canadian Labour Congress.

He has received the Edmonton Interfaith Advocate Award and John Humphrey Centre’s Human Rights Advocate Award for promoting welcoming and socially inclusive communities.

Sohi was born in India in 1964 and immigrated to Edmonton in 1981. He was a former bus driver and was jailed in India for two years in the 1980s.

Herb Dhaliwal was the first Sikh who became a cabinet minister in Canada in 1997. In 2004, Ujjal Dosanjh became a cabinet minister who is also from the Sikh community.

In Canada, Punjabi is the third most common language and the new parliament has 20 Punjabi speaking members.

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