Trudeau taps Oakville MP as new Minister of National Defence
Published October 26, 2021 at 11:52 am
Oakville MP Anita Anand is the new Minister of National Defence.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement of Anand’s promotion while swearing in his new cabinet on Tuesday.
Anand becomes only the second women Minister of National Defence in Canadian history. Kim Campbell held the position for six months in 1993 before becoming prime minister.
The former procurement minister replaces Harjit Sajjan in a move that follows months of controversy around the Liberal government’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving some of the military’s most senior officers.
Sajjan has been accused of having lost all credibility when it came to leading the fight against military sexual misconduct and opposition parties, experts and victims’ support groups have been calling on Trudeau to have him replaced.
Observers say Anand will have to rebuild trust in a military rocked by the sexual misconduct crisis.
Sajjan will have a new role in the cabinet as the minister of international development, which is responsible for foreign aid.
Anand has been widely celebrated for her efforts as procurement minister in securing and purchasing vaccines, PPE and other supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canada is among the world leaders in vaccination rates.
The local MP also had significant oversight of various military procurement projects, including the planned purchase of new fighter jets and warships.
Anand becomes is also only the second person to serve as Minister of National Defence since the Liberals returned to power under Trudeau in late 2015.
When Sajjan first took over the role in early November 2015, the former Vancouver police officer was widely seen as a positive selection given his previous service as a lieutenant−colonel in the army reserves, which included stints in Afghanistan.
Yet Sajjan struggled to effectively communicate when it came to military matters, and was seen as being too deferential to those senior commanders such as then−chief of the defence staff Jonathan Vance, under whom he had served in Afghanistan.
Those concerns exploded into the public discourse in February after Global News reported several allegations of sexual misconduct involving Vance, one of which was flagged to Sajjan by the military ombudsman in March 2018.
The emergence of allegations against several other senior officers raised further questions about Sajjan’s leadership, and eventually calls for his resignation amid complaints about a perceived lack of leadership from the minister.
– With files from The Canadian Pressinsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies