Canada’s first Hindu minister Anita Anand gets defence portfolio

Toronto: Canada’s first Hindu Cabinet minister Anita Anand made history on Tuesday by becoming the country’s second-ever woman defence minister by replacing fellow Indo-Canadian Harjit Sajjan as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his new Cabinet.

Sajjan will be the new minister of international affairs.

Another Indo-Canadian woman Kamal Khera, the 32-year-old MP from Brampton West, also took oath as minister for seniors, taking the number of Indo-Canadian women ministers in the Trudeau Cabinet to three.

The sitting Indo-Canadian woman minister Bardish Chagger, who held the Ministry of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth of Canada, has been shuffled out.

The two Indo-Canadian women are among six women ministers in the new Cabinet.

Trudeau demoted Harjit Sajjan for failing to address the allegations of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military and rewarded Anita Anand and Kamal Khera for their work during the pandemic.

Anand has been praised for her work as procurement minister and Khera – a registered nurse – for going back to work as a health-care provider at the peak of the pandemic. A three-time MP since 2015, Khera has also served as a parliamentary secretary to the ministers of health and international trade.

Anita was born in 1967 in Nova Scotia to Indian parents who were both medical professionals. Her mother Saroj D. Ram came from Punjab and father S.V. Anand from Tamil Nadu.

Anita, who is on leave as a professor of law at the University of Toronto, was picked up as minister of public service and procurement by Prime Minister Justin in 2019 after her election as MP from Oakville near Toronto.

Anita assisted the Air India Inquiry Commission with extensive research. The commission investigated the bombing of Air India Kanishka Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, that killed all 329 people on board.

The bomb that exploded on board the Montreal-Delhi flight was planted by Vancouver-based Khalistanis to avenge the military action at the Golden Temple a year earlier in 1984.

Before Anita Anand, Canada’s only woman defence minister was former Prime Minister Kim Campbell who held the portfolio for six months from January 4 to June 25 in 1993.


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