Anita Anand, an Indian-origin politician who won her re-election to the Canadian Parliament in September 2021, was appointed as the nation’s Minister of Defence on Tuesday, 26 October, during a Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, The Hindu reported.
The reshuffle comes one month after the Liberal Party reassumed power in the Canadian government after winning the snap elections called by Trudeau.
Anand, who is 54 years old, will succeed another Indian-origin as defence minister.
She replaces Harjit Sajjan, who has been criticised for his inaction over allegations of sexual misconduct against former Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance.
Trudeau’s decision to appoint Anand as defence minister hasn’t taken many by surprise as she had been portrayed as a fitting candidate for weeks, whose appointment would be a sign from the government that it wants to reform the military, especially with regards to the Canadian military which, according to a Global News report from July earlier this year, “received more than 700 sexual assault reports since 2016.”
Anand said that her being a woman was one factor among many and her “top priority is to make sure that everyone in the armed forces feels safe and protected, and that they have the support that they need when they need them, and the structures in place to ensure that justice is serviced”, Global News reported on Tuesday, 26 October.
“The fact that I’m a woman is, I guess, one aspect of that calculation, but there are other areas of expertise that I will also be imparting to the role, including my expertise of governance, and my knowledge of law and process,” she added.
Anand has a very lengthy and impressive portfolio, and was once a professor at the University of Toronto where she was also the associate dean for two years.
Born in 1967 in Kentville, Nova Scotia, she was born to a Punjabi mother and Tamilian father, both of whom were physicians.
Her family moved to Ontario in 1985, and Anand subsequently raised her family in Oakville, which has also been her constituency in the House of Commons.
That is where she also began serving the Canadian people, much before her entry into politics. In her Oakville community, according to her biography provided by the Canadian government’s official website, she served on “the Board of Directors of the Lighthouse Program for Grieving Children, the Oakville Hospital Foundation, and Oakville Hydro Electricity Distribution Inc.”
Anand has attained no less than four degrees, including political science and laws from four separate universities, including Oxford and Toronto.
She worked both as a legal associate and as a law professor before commencing her journey in politics.
Additionally, she was a visiting lecturer in Yale Law School in 2005 and taught comparative corporate governance.
The Government of Canada website portal has further information about her expertise. It states that she “completed extensive research on the regulation of financial markets, corporate governance, and shareholder rights” and “as appointed to the Government of Ontario’s Expert Committee to Consider Financial Advisory and Financial Planning Policy Alternatives.”
Before winning her nomination for the Liberal Party on 12 June 2019 and officially entering politics, Anand taught at multiple Canadian universities like Queen’s University at Kingston, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Toronto.
She went on to win her election in October 2019 by a margin of more than 30,000 votes and was sworn in as Member of Parliament in November.
She was also made the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and had to ensure that Canada could procure safe and reliable personal protective equipment (PPE) in an extremely competitive global market induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anand also promised to supply medical equipment to India as COVID-19 rampaged across the country earlier this year.
“We will stand ready with PPE and ventilators and any items that might be useful for the government of India,” she had stated during a press conference in April 2021, Global News reported.
After she displayed leadership and success in procuring PPEs, Anand was put in charge of Canada’s efforts to secure COVID-19 vaccines for the population, which she did with resounding success.
The Trudeau government’s initial goal was to procure enough vaccines to fully inoculate the whole population by 30 September 2021, but it achieved its goal two months before the target data as it received around 66.4 million vaccines by the end of July, CBC reported.
Anita Anand has now been made Minister of National Defence, and is only the second woman in the history of Canadian politics to take responsibility for this important ministry.
(With inputs from The Hindu, Global News, CBC, and Government of Canada Website.)