Indian-origin Anita Anand has been was appointed as the new Defence Minister of Canada in the latest cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
According to reports, a 39-member Cabinet was sworn in at the Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Anand replaced Harjit Sajjan as the defence minister. She also led the procurement effort of the vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic and was the procurement minister of the country.
Anand told reporters that her top priority is to make everyone feel safe in the armed forces. Notably, Sajjan was criticised for his handling of military sexual misconduct.
"My 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 served," CTV News quoted Anand as saying.
"We have a team of familiar faces and new faces that are ready to put all their strengths, all their hard work towards delivering for Canadians in the coming years," CTV News quoted the Prime Minister as saying earlier in the day.
After her appointment, Anand thanked Trudeau for "entrusting" her with the portfolio.
Taking to Twitter, Anand said, "It is my sincere honour to be sworn in today as Minister of National Defence. Thank you @JustinTrudeau for entrusting me with this portfolio." She further stated that she will work to ensure that the Armed Forces operate in a safe and healthy environment.
"The members of the Canadian Armed Forces dedicate their lives to safeguarding our country and we owe it to them to make sure that they operate in a safe and healthy environment. I look forward to this work," she said in a tweet.
The 54-year-old is the country's first Hindu Cabinet minister and the second-ever woman defence minister.
All you need to know about Anita Anand:
Anand was born in 1967 in Nova Scotia to Indian parents who were both medical professionals. Her mother Saroj D. Ram came from Punjab and father S.V. Anand from Tamil Nadu.
Anand's family moved to Ontario in 1985 and subsequently, she raised her family in Oakville, which has also been her constituency in the House of Commons.
Anand, who is on leave as a professor of law at the University of Toronto, was picked up as minister of public service and procurement by Prime Minister Justin in 2019 after her election as MP from Oakville near Toronto.
She assisted the Air India Inquiry Commission with extensive research. The commission investigated the bombing of Air India Kanishka Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, that killed all 329 people on board.
The bomb that exploded on board the Montreal-Delhi flight was planted by Vancouver-based Khalistanis to avenge the military action at the Golden Temple a year earlier in 1984.
(With ANI and IANS inputs)