A Former Bus Driver, An Army Officer, A Professor: 3 Sikhs Make It To Justin Trudeau's Cabinet

05/11/2015 1:44 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Lt. Col. Harjit Sajjan and Hon. Lt. Col. Robert Stanley present Consul General Phil Chicola with a certificate of appreciation.

Three Sikh men were selected to be a part of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new 30-member cabinet on Wednesday.

While Harjit Sajjan, a former police officer and veteran of three military deployments to Afghanistan, was named Canada's new minister of defence, Amarjeet Sohi has been sworn in as the minister for infrastructure, according to media reports.

The third Sikh MP Navdeep Bains has been awarded with a cabinet berth.

This is not the first time Sikhs have made it to important positions in the Canadian cabinet. Herb Dhaliwal was the first Sikh to become a cabinet minister in Canada in the year 1997, followed by Ujjal Dosanjh in 2004.

42-year-old Sajjan is expected to oversee an much-needed change in the country's military involvement in the battle against militancy in Syria and Iraq, reported Reuters.

harjit sajjan

Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Sajjan

The father of two was a cop in Vancouver for 11 years, and is now a Lieutenant-Colonel in Canada's armed forces. The first Sikh commanding officer to have been deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sajjan has received a number of awards for his service, including the Order of Military Merit.

38-year-old Sohi had led a quite an interesting life before formally joining Canadian politics. Fundamentally against religion and a secularist by nature, Sohi moved to Canada when he was 17, and moved back to India at 24 to study, says a report in the Edmonton Journal.

As a young social activist doing voluntary development work in India, he was arrested by authorities in the state of Bihar and accused of being a terrorist. “When they saw me, a Sikh, there from Punjab and from Canada, they said, ‘We must have a terrorist here'," he told EJ.

Though never formally charged, Sohi ended up spending two years in prison as under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act, authorities were allowed to hold suspects for up to two years without charges.

Some reports claim that Sohi used to earn a living by driving buses in Canada.

amarjeet sohi

MP Amarjeet Sohi

Now, according to a report in the CBC news, Sohi said that his department's first three priorities would be funding for public transportation, affordable housing and senior residences, and upgrading drainage and wastewater facilities across Canada.

The third Sikh MP in Trudeau's cabinet, Bains, previously served as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister in 2005 when he was MP from 2004 till 2011, according to The Times of India. He has also been a visiting professor at Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.

navdeep bains

MP Navdeep Bains

(With inputs from agencies)

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