A ‘cabinet that looks like Canada’ is sworn in

November 5, 2015

By Canadian Immigrant |

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled his gender-equal, diverse cabinet today, Nov. 4.

It is the first cabinet in Canadian history with the same number of women as men. And when asked by reporters why half of the cabinet members are women, he replied simply: “Because it is 2015.”

The cabinet also features the first-ever Muslim and Afghan-born minister; Ontario’s Maryam Monsef is responsible for Democratic Institutions. At 30 she is the youngest in the cabinet. She fled Afghanistan with her widowed mother and two sisters and came to Canada at 11 years old.

While the minister for the newly renamed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship department is longtime Liberal immigration critic John MacCallum, not an immigrant himself, two other immigrants were included in the cabinet in addition to Monsef.

Amarjeet Sohi, a former bus driver from Edmonton, is the new infrastructure minister. He was wrongfully imprisoned as a terrorist in his home country of India. He spent 21 months in prison and was beaten and tortured.

Replacing former minister Jason Kenney in the role of defence minister is Vancouver’s Harjit Sajjan, the first Sikh to command a Canadian army regiment. He also fought in Afghanistan and served with the Vancouver police gang crime unit.

There are also first-generation Canadians who were born in Canada to immigrant parents, including Navdeep Singh Bains, the new minister of innovation, science and economic development and Bardish Chagger, minister of small business and tourism.

Prime Minister Trudeau said it was an “incredible pleasure . . . to present a cabinet that looks like Canada.”

Parliament will resume Dec. 3, and Trudeau will lay out his formal agenda in a speech from the throne on Dec. 4.

With files and photo from Toronto Star.

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