A great day for Canada, says Indian origin ex-minister

Toronto: The swearing-in of four Indian-Canadians as cabinet ministers is “a great day for Canada and a great day for India”, said Herb Dhaliwal, the western world’s first Indian-origin cabinet minister when he was appointed Canada’s revenue minister in 1997.

Hailing the appointment of a record four Indian-Canadians as cabinet ministers by Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, top Indian-Canadian leaders said this historic development will herald a new era in India-Canada relations.

Harjit Sajjan, 42, took the oath as Canada’s defence minister, Navdeep Bains, 38, as innovation minister, Amarjeet Sohi as infrastructure minister, and young woman Bardish Jhagger as minister for small business and tourism.

They are among the record 19 Indian-Canadians elected to Canada’s parliament in elections held on October 19, and at the swearing ceremony followed Justin Trudeau who tok oath as the new prime minister on Wednesday.

Dhaliwal, who held the Canadian cabinet post from 1997 to 2004, said: “It reflects a new Canada which is leading the world in inclusiveness. It makes me feel proud that we created an opening and today we have four cabinet ministers. People in India must be proud of it.”

Ajit Someshwar, chairman of the Canada India Foundation (CIF), said, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must be commended for achieving gender parity and for reflecting Canada’s ethnic diversity in his cabinet. The inclusion of four members of Indian origin in the cabinet, out of a record total 19 Indo-Canadian MPs elected, is a matter of great pride for all Indo-Canadians.”

He said, “The appointment of four ministers is a good start for the inclusion of other communities.”

Stressing the conclusion of the long-impending free trade treaty between India and Canada, Someshwar said, “We hope that Prime Minister Trudeau will continue to enhance relationship with India and boost bilateral trade between the two countries which still remains far below potential. The Canada India Foundation will support the new government in achieving this objective.”

Former Canadian health minister Ujjal Dosanjh, who too made history in 2001 by becoming the first-ever non-white provincial premier in Canada when he was elected to top post in British Columbia, said: “The appointment of four Indo-Canadians to the cabinet is another big step in the community’s history in Canada.”

“We have been in Canada for more than a hundred years. It (the appointment of four Indo-Canadians as cabinet ministers) is the new norm now. This is a huge step in the history of the Indo-Canadian community.”