The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers BC (“FACL BC”) extends its congratulations to the federal government’s new Cabinet. FACL BC is especially pleased to see the historic inclusion of eight Ministers of Asian descent, four of whom are new to Cabinet. A cabinet that reflects Canada’s diverse communities is better suited to represent the interests of all Canadians.
FACL BC welcomes the appointments of:
the Honourable Anita Anand as President of the Treasury Board;
the Honourable Arif Virani as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada;
the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree as Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations;
the Honourable Kamal Khera as Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities;
the Honourable Ya’ara Saks as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health;
the Honourable Rechie Valdez as Minister of Small Business;
the Honourable Harjit Sajjan as Minister of Emergency Preparedness and President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada; and
the reappointment of the Honourable Mary Ng as Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development.
Each of these Ministers brings a wealth of lived experience and community connectedness that enriches Canada’s national fabric and demonstrates that we are stronger when all voices are included at the table.
The Honourable Anita Anand was born and raised in Nova Scotia to Indian physician parents and has worked as a scholar, lawyer, and researcher. Prior to her election to the House of Commons in 2019, Minister Anand was a Professor of Law and Associate Dean at the University of Toronto, where she held the J.R. Kimber Chair in Investor Protection and Corporate Governance. Minister Anand was also a member of the Governing Board of Massey College, has served as the Director of Policy Research at the Capital Markets Research Institute (Rotman School of Management), and previously taught law at Yale Law School, Queen’s University, and Western University.
The Honourable Arif Virani is an Ismaili Muslim who came to Canada in 1972 as a Ugandan Asian refugee. Minister Virani practiced law, first as a civil litigator in the private sector and then as a constitutional litigator at the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario advocating for human rights and access to justice. Minister Virani has extensive experience in Canadian and international human rights law from his time as an analyst with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, an investigator with the Québec Commission des droits de la personne et de la jeunesse, and an Assistant Trial Attorney with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
The Honourable Gary Anandasangaree is a human rights lawyer and community activist who was first elected as the MP for Scarborough-Rouge Park in 2015. Minister Anandasangaree was previously the Parliamentary Secretary to three Ministers - the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism (Multiculturalism). Minister Anandasangaree is an active leader in the Tamil community and has been recognized for his community contributions through receiving the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
The Honourable Kamal Khera was born in New Delhi, India and is one of the youngest women ever elected to Parliament. She is a registered nurse, community volunteer, and political activist. During the pandemic, she volunteered at a long-term care facility in her hometown of Brampton and administered vaccines in her community. She has previously served as Minister of Seniors, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health. She now holds the position of Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, where she will no doubt utilize her experience in healthcare and as a racialized woman.
The Honourable Ya’ara Saks was born in Toronto to an Israeli father and Canadian mother, and her first spoken language was Hebrew. In 1995, after graduating from Montreal’s McGill University, she moved to Israel and spent the next 11 years based in Jerusalem, where she completed her MA at Hebrew University in International Relations and Diplomacy on Israeli-Palestinian relations. She returned to Canada in 2006 and was first elected as the Member of Parliament for York Centre in 2020. She was also a member of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Having served as the Director of Trauma Practice for Healthy Communities, a Toronto-based mental health charity working for better access to mental health services, she is well suited for her new role as the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health.
The Honourable Rechie Valdez was born and raised in Zambia and immigrated to Canada in 1989. Minister Valdez is the first Filipino-Canadian woman elected as a MP and appointed to Cabinet. Minister Valdez was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Streetsville in 2021. Prior to entering politics, Minister Valdez was a television host and a small business owner, which makes her particularly suitable for the position of Minister of Small Businesses.
The Honourable Harjit Sajjan immigrated to Canada from India at the age of five. Minister Sajjan previously served as Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada and as Minister of National Defence. Now residing in South Vancouver, Minister Sajjan is a former detective of the Vancouver Police Department, where he was a member for over a decade. Minister Sajjan was also the Lieutenant Colonel with the British Columbia Regiment and has participated in deployments to Bosnia and Afghanistan.
The Honourable Mary Ng immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong and worked for the Ontario Public Service, Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), and the Ontario Ministry of Education before being elected to the House of Commons in 2017 as the MP for Markham-Thornhill. Minister Ng previously held the posts of Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development and as Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade.