Canada's New Sikh Defence Minister Racially Abused By Soldier On Facebook

13/11/2015 4:01 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo via Getty Images
OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 12: The newly elected Canadian Minister of National Defence, The Honourable Harjit Sajjan hams it up while wearing a Sens Camouflage jersey prior to the start of an NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks on Canadian Forces Appreciation Night during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on November 12, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

TORONTO -- Canada's newly-appointed Sikh defence minister Harjit Sajjan has allegedly faced racist remarks by a soldier on social media, prompting the Canadian Armed Forces to launch a probe.

The military declined to identify the soldier or precisely what was written, but a source said the non-commissioned member from Quebec, made an "inappropriate statement" on Facebook about India-born Sajjan's "ethnic background", The Globe and Mail reported.

Sajjan immigrated to Canada from India when he was a young boy. The offensive post, which was written in French, was quickly removed.

A Forces spokesman said the army's chain of command is probing the matter.

Sajjan is a decorated military veteran who served three tours of duty for the Forces in Afghanistan, and one in Bosnia, and worked as a detective in the Vancouver Police Service.

The incident of disrespect to the minister prompted Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West to send an e-mail to soldiers warning against such conduct, the newspaper said. He lamented the fact that a high-ranking member of the forces made "negative" comments about the minister and warned them against disrespectful behaviour, adding that to say he is angry would be an understatement.

The Forces issued a strong statement on Wednesday condemning the behaviour. "We are very much aware of an incident in which a Canadian Armed Forces member wrote inappropriate comments on social media about the new minister of national defence," Forces spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said.

"Racist attitudes are not compatible with military ethos and with effective military service. Any conduct that reflects such attitudes will not be tolerated," he said. "As previously stated by chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance, bullies have no place in the organisation."

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