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Four Indian Canadians sworn in as cabinet ministers

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Photo: www.cknw.com

Ottawa: The Punjabi community in Canada made history on Wednesday when two turbaned Sikhs, along with two other Indian Canadians, were sworn in as cabinet ministers, as 42-year-old Justin Trudeau took oath as the country’s 23rd prime minister at a grand public ceremony here.

While 42-year-old Indian Canadian Harjit Sajjan was appointed defense minister, 38-year-old Navdeep Bains got the portfolio of innovation, science, and economic development.

Another Sikh, Amarjeet Sohi, who is not turbaned, has been sworn in as minister for infrastructure. A former bus driver, Sohi was jailed in India for two years in the 1980s.

A young Sikh woman, Bardish Jhagger, who is a first-time MP, has been sworn in as minister for small business and tourism.

Navdeep Bains, who played a key role in Trudeau’s election as the Liberal Party leader in 2013, has been awarded with the important cabinet berth.

Bains, who became MP for the third time last month by winning from Mississauga-Brampton, previously served as parliamentary secretary to the prime minister in 2005 when he was MP from 2004 till 2011 when he lost.

Considered very suave, Bains has been a distinguished visiting professor at Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto till now.

India-born first-time Sikh MP Harjit Sajjan is Canada’s new defense minister.

A decorated police and army official, Sajjan has been the first Sikh to command a Canadian regiment, called the Duke of Connaught’s Own which is a reserve regiment based in British Columbia province.

Sajjan has served in Afghanistan and Bosnia and been twice a special adviser on Afghanistan. He was given the Meritorious Service Medal in March 2013.

A father of two, the 45-year-old Sajjan was with the Vancouver Police Department for 11 years and served as a detective for the gang crime unit.

However, Sajjan’s nomination as the Liberal Party candidate from Vancouver South last year attracted controversy when many Sikh leaders resigned from the Liberal Party, alleging that the party leadership has been ‘manipulated’ by hardliner Sikhs of the World Sikh Organization.

Harjit Sajjan’s father Kundan Sajjan is a board member of the WSO, which is alleged to have hardline sympathies.

But Sajjan told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last year: “I am not a member of the WSO. I’ve had no negative vibes from anybody.”

Harjit was five when his father moved to Canada from Punjab. His wife Kuljit Kaur is a family doctor.

In the outgoing government, Tim Uppal was a turbaned Sikh but enjoyed the rank of the minister of state.

Herb Dhaliwal was the first Sikh to become a full cabinet minister in Canada in 1997, followed by Ujjal Dosanjh in 2004. Dhaliwal held the revenue portfolio while Dosanjh held the very important portfolio of health.

Justin Trudeau, the 42-year-old son of charismatic former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who is credited with opening Canada to new immigrants in the 1970s, led the Liberal Party to win 184 seats in the 338-member House of Commons.

Trudeau is the second youngest prime minister of Canada.

(IANS)

Next Story

In the Name of Kabaddi, Punjab Youth Stay Back in Canada

"Misrepresentation and fraudulent documentation are of concern. Fraudulent documentation, including photo-substituted evidence of applicants playing kabaddi, have been encountered among the supporting documentation submitted with applications," it added

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A Kabaddi match (Representational image). Wikimedia

By Jaideep Sarin

Traditionally a tough, rural sport practised by ‘pehlwans’ in villages across the length and breadth of India, kabaddi has been flying high in recent years due to the money and glamour brought in by the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL).

This new-found professionalism has certainly helped the top-level players and turned this typically ‘desi’ sport into a lucrative career option.

But going by a longstanding trend in Punjab, the benefits are yet to trickle down to the average athlete at the village level in the state.

Generally considered to be one of the traditional powerhouses of kabaddi in the country, players from Punjab are making news in faraway Canada for the wrong reasons.

Nearly 47 per cent of the youth going to the country in the name of participating in Kabaddi tournaments have failed to return, a confidential report of the Canadian government has pointed out.

“In 2015, 2016 and 2017, visas were issued to 261 kabaddi players. Forty seven percent of them failed to report back to the migration office in Chandigarh, 26 per cent obtained work permits after entry to Canada and 1 per cent made refugee claims,” the internal report of Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (Ministry), which is with IANS, has stated.

“While the rate of return increased from 42 per cent in 2015 to 62 per cent in 2017, the rate of persons obtaining work permits unrelated to Kabaddi has also increased from 21 per cent to 30 per cent,” it pointed out.

The youth are invited to Canada by kabaddi federations based there to play matches organised by the strong Indian community residing in the country.

“The rate of players who obtained work permits after entry to Canada (26 per cent) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 suggests that they intended to enter Canada primarily for long-term work unrelated to playing Kabaddi,” the report said.

Abhishek said it was all due to the league getting bigger and better every season.
In the name of Kabaddi, Punjab youth stay back in Canada. Wikimedia

Selection by a Canada-based kabaddi federation for visa facilitation effectively allowed the players to circumvent the conventional examination of work permit applications at a migration office outside of Canada.

With an increasing number of youth applying for Canadian visa in the name of kabaddi, the Canadian ministry, in 2017, had invited kabaddi federations in Canada to participate in a pilot programme related to the sport.

Players and federations were informed of the requirement to report back to the migration office at the conclusion of the season in Canada in December 2017. That year, 78 kabaddi players’ applications were approved for the four inviting federations. Of these, only 62 per cent reported back while 30 percent stayed back and obtained a work permit by presenting themselves with a labour market impact assessment at a land port of entry as “visa exempt” clients.

Among the four federations, according to the report, players of two federations had a rate of return of 29 per cent only. Players of the other two federations had an 88 per cent rate of return.

When contacted by IANS, officials at the national kabaddi federation refused to comment on the issue.

“The federation has nothing to do with this issue. These players go abroad on their personal initiative and at the behest of tournament organisers over there,” an official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, rate of refusal of visa applications for Kabaddi players was as high as 65 per cent (in 2014).

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Canada’s Chandigarh visa office receives the vast majority of temporary resident applications from kabaddi players wishing to play in Canada.

“Kabaddi players applying through Chandigarh are typically young, single unsalaried males with limited economic prospects in their home county. Most belong to rural agricultural families with modest land holdings which may be held in common with several persons. Most applicants play for their village club which is usually supported by local patrons. It is difficult to gauge a player’s skill or standing in the sport as there is no formal structure at this level,” the report pointed out.

“Misrepresentation and fraudulent documentation are of concern. Fraudulent documentation, including photo-substituted evidence of applicants playing kabaddi, have been encountered among the supporting documentation submitted with applications,” it added. (IANS)