4 Sikhs take up Cabinet berth in Canada

| Canada | 5 Nov 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Harjit Singh Sajjan appointed as Canada's defence minister
Harjit Singh Sajjan appointed as Canada’s defence minister

Four Sikhs made it into the Canadian Cabinet, with two of them turban-bearing  amritdharis, sending excited shock waves to the Sikh diaspora.

Harjit Singh Sajjan, 42, was appointed Canada’s defence minister while 38-year-old Navdeep Singh Bains was made Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Amarjeet Singh Sohi joined the Cabinet as Minister for Infrastructure while first-time MP Bardish Kaur Jhagger has been sworn in as Minister for Small Business and Tourism.

“Komagata Maru to this – Minister of Defence for Canada. Inspiring!….Did I mention how inspired I am?,” said one young Sikh university student in a social media entry.

Komagata Maru refers to an incident in 1914 where a Japanese steamship, Komagata Maru, sailed from Hong Kong, Shanghai, China to Yokohama, Japan and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab. Only two dozen of them were allowed to enter Canada when the ship was forced to return to India.

“Congratulations to the three Punjabi/Sikh gentlemen and one lady appointed as Ministers in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet in Canada. First time in the world in any country that two full fledged practising gursikhs have been appointed full ministers at any one time,” said Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO) secretary general Autar Singh in a Facebook entry.

Like him, many Sikhs will be talking about how the four Sikhs made the cut for the 31-member Cabinet appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Fifteen of them are women.

“It is time for leadership that never seeks to divide Canadians, but takes every single opportunity to bring us together, including in Parliament,” Trudeau said in a note to the nation.

Navdeep Bains, who played a key role in Trudeau’s election as the Liberal Party leader in 2013, has been awarded with an important cabinet berth, reports News East West.

Bains, who became the MP for the third time last month by winning from Mississauga-Brampton, has previously served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister in 2005 when he was the MP from 2004 till 2011 when he lost.

Harjit had served Canada as both a soldier and a police officer. He is a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and a combat veteran. He had been deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina and had served three separate deployments to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In the outgoing government, Tim Uppal was a turbaned Sikh. But he was only the minister of state. Herb Dhaliwal was the first Sikh to become a full cabinet minister in Canada in 1997, followed by Ujjal Dosanjh in 2004. Dhaliwal held the revenue portfolio while Dosanjh held the very important portfolio of health, reports News East West.

Justin Trudeau, the 42-year-old son of the charismatic former prime minister Pierre Trudeau who is credited with opening Canada to new immigrants in the 1970s, led the Liberal Party to win 184 seats in the 338-member House of Commons.

Navdeep Singh Bains: Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Seen here in a photo with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Navdeep Singh Bains: Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Seen here in a photo with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


Punjabi now third language in the Canadian parliament (Asia Samachar, 3 Nov 2015)

Canada politics changed forever from personal to community perspective (Asia Samachar, 30 Oct 2015)

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