Harjit Sajjan, an Indo-Canadian Sikh, was named Canada’s new defence minister on Wednesday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 30-member cabinet was sworn-in at a ceremony in Ottawa.
Trudeau was sworn in as Canada’s 23rd prime minister before a packed crowd at Rideau Hall, almost 50 years after his father took on the job.
Sajjan, a decorated lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian armed forces who was elected as an MP for Vancouver South, is a combat veteran and has served in Bosnia and was thrice deployed to Kandahar in Afghanistan. He has received numerous military honours, including the Meritorious Service Medal in 2013 for reducing Taliban’s influence in Kandahar.
“His approach, based on his knowledge of local culture and tribal dynamics, helped senior management to engage with influential Afghan tribal leaders, and led to the identification of insurgent command and control connection points,” according to the citation on the governor general’s website.
Sajjan, who is in his mid-forties, was born in India and moved to Canada with his family when he was five-years-old, CBC News reported.
As the new defence minister, Sajjan will work with Trudeau on reshaping Canada’s combat mission fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Canada’s incoming government has said it will withdraw fighter jets from the US-led coalition and stick to training Iraqi troops.