How immigration and multiculturalism helped shape Trudeau’s new cabinet
On Wednesday the 26th of July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a cabinet shuffle, assigning new portfolios to current ministers, and swearing in new ministers.
While cabinet shuffles occur roughly every two years in a routine process, July’s shuffle stands apart not just for how consequential it is for the current government’s approval—but also for the cultural and ethnic diversity reflected in Trudeau’s new cabinet. Read on below to learn more about how immigration helped shape what is one of the most diverse cabinets in Canada’s history.
Anita Anand is Canada’s new treasury board president, having previously served as the Minister of National Defense, and Receiver General of Canada. She also currently serves as the representative Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding (i.e., electoral district) of Oakville.
Anand, born in Nova Scotia, is the daughter of Indian physicians, who initially immigrated to Canada from Nigeria, in the early 1960’s.
Before her political life Anand had an accomplished academic career gaining tenure as a professor at the Queen’s University Faculty of Law, before serving as a guest lecturer at Yale law school, and finally joining the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 2006 and serving as associate dean of the university from 2007 to 2009.
Ahmed Hussen is the current Minister of International Development.
Born and raised in Mogadishu, Somalia, Hussen's family decided to immigrate to Canada in 1993 as a 16-year-old refugee, fleeing the violence of the Somalian civil war. After spending roughly two years in Kenya, Hussen’s parents would send him to Canada, where two of his older brothers already resided, initially settling in the province of Ontario.
Previously, he served as the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, Minister of Families Children and Social Development, and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. He also serves as the MP for the dynamic riding of York South—Weston.
Kamal Khera is the new Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities.
An immigrant from India, Khera was born in New Delhi, and initially arrived in Canada at the age of 10 with her parents.
She is one of the youngest women ever elected to Canadian politics earning her seat as MP for the riding of Brampton West at just 26. Khera previously served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health, Minister of National Revenue, and to the Minister International Development. Prior to becoming Minister of Diversity, Khera served as Minister of Seniors.
Mary Ng is the newly appointed Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development.
Ng was born in British Hong Kong in 1969 and is the eldest of three siblings. At the age of seven, the family immigrated to Canada where they first established a family restaurant in Toronto.
She has an extensive 20-year career in public service, working in the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, the Ontario Cabinet Office, and serving as the Director of Policy to Ontario Education Minister Gerard Kennedy. Since 2017 she has represented the riding of Markham—Northhill.
Pablo Rodriguez is the new Minister of Transport.
Born in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina, Rodriguez’s family would flee Argentina when he was eight years old, after their family home was bombed during the “Dirty War” due to Rodriguez’s father’s activism against the military junta.
Prior to being Minister of Transport, Rodriguez served as the Minister of Cultural Heritage, Leader of the Government House of Commons, and Chief Government Whip. He has represented the Quebec riding of Honoré-Mercier since 2015, and also serves as the Quebec Lieutenant of the liberal party.
Harjit S. Sajjan
Harjit S. Sajjan is the new Minister of Emergency Preparedness and the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada.
Sajjan was born on September 6, 1970, in Punjab, India. At the age of five, Sajjan migrated to Canada along with his mother and elder sister, joining their father who had moved to British Columbia (where Sajjan would grow up) two years prior to take up work in a sawmill.
Prior to his current post in federal government, Sajjan had a long career in military and police enforcement, as well as serving as Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, Minister of National Defense, and Minister of International Development. He represents the British Columbia riding of Vancouver South, since his election in 2015.
New cabinet members
Gary Anandasangaree is the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, preceded in the role by current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller.
Anandasangaree, of Sri-Lankan heritage, initially arrived in Canada as a refugee with his mother in 1983, to escape the violence of the Black July Anti-Tamil riots that had swept through the country at the time.
Prior to his current role Anandasangaree had an extensive career as a lawyer, noted as a recognised human rights activist. He also served intermittently as the parliamentary secretary to previous Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett.
Soraya Martinez Ferrada
Soraya Martinez Ferrada is the new Minister of Tourism.
Born in 1972, Martinez was initially raised in Chile, before immigrating to Montreal’s East End in 1980, at the age of eight.
Prior to becoming Minister of Tourism, Ferrada worked in the office of the Montreal City Councillor (representing Saint-Michel) and was the Minister responsible for the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. Since 2019 she has represented the Quebec riding of Hochelaga.
Ya’ara Saks is the newly appointed Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health.
A dual citizen of Canada and Israel, Saks has lived in both countries, and is the first ever member of Canadian parliament to hold both citizenships.
Before her political career, Saks had a long career in health and wellness, owning her own Yoga studio in York Centre, Toronto, and working as the Director for Trauma Practice for Healthy Communities, a charity that focuses on community and family mental health. She has represented the Ontario riding of York Centre since 2020.
Rechie Valdez is the new Minister of Small Businesses.
Born in Zambia in 1980, Valdez is the first ever Filipino-Canadian woman to serve in Canadian parliament. Her family immigrated initially to Zambia, before moving to Canada when Valdez was nine years old.
Prior to her life in politics, Valdez had a career in the financial sector, before transitioning to entertainment—competing in the Food Network Canada cooking show “The Big Bake” and producing her own show on Filipino TV. She has represented the Ontario riding of Streetsville since 2020.
Arif Virani is the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Virani, born in Uganda to an Indian family, initially immigrated to Canada as a refugee in 1972, after the exodus of Asians from Uganda. Initially arriving to humble conditions, Virani’s family would first take up residence at the Stanley Street YMCA in Montreal, before settling in Toronto.
Prior to his appointment as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Virani served as parliamentary secretary to the previous Minister of Justice and Attorney General, to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, and the Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship. Since 2015 he has represented the Ontario riding of Parkdale—High Park.