Indian-origin Canadian politician Anita Anand was appointed as the country's new Defence Minister in a Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday. This move came over a month after his Liberal Party returned power in the snap polls and amid calls for major military reforms.
Anand will replace long-time Defence Minister Indian-origin Harjit Sajjan, whose handling of the military sexual misconduct crisis has been under criticism.
Sajjan has reportedly been appointed as Minister of the International Development Agency.
The new Cabinet maintains gender balance and has 38 members, up one person from before the election, it said.
According to a report in Global News, Anand was being touted as a strong contender for weeks among defence industry experts who said that moving her into the role would send a powerful signal to survivors and victims of military sexual misconduct that the government is serious about implementing major reforms.
The Canadian military is facing intense public and political pressure to change its culture and create better systems for both preventing and handling sexual misconduct allegations, it said.
Anand holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Political Studies from Queen's University, a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford, a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University, and a Master of Laws from the University of Toronto. She was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1994.
Anand has worked as a scholar, lawyer, and researcher. She has been a legal academic, including as a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto.
Anand was declared the winner in Oakville with a nearly 46 per cent vote share; a significant development for Canada's vaccine minister.
She was first elected as a rookie Member of Parliament in 2019 representing Oakville in Ontario province and served as procurement minister throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
She quickly became in charge of the country’s efforts to secure COVID-19 vaccines and was often on the campaign trail with Trudeau.
In her role as former Minister of Public Services and Procurement, she played a very public role in the Liberal response to the health crisis.
In 2019, the Royal Society of Canada awarded her the Yvan Allaire Medal for outstanding contributions in governance relating to private and public organisations.
"I'm just ecstatic," she had said after her win, thanking the volunteers who had worked "extremely hard as a team for five weeks straight," she was quoted as saying by the Oakville News.
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