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5 Things You Need To Know About Canada's Minister Of Defence

Harjit Sajjan, Canada's Minister of National Defence, has become an online sensation since being picked for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's new cabinet. Here are five things - including one about cannabis - you should know about the acclaimed "badass."

1. He moonlighted on combat missions

In 2006, Sajjan took time off from his full-time job as part of the Vancouver police department's Gang Crime Unit to join a combat mission in Kandahar - one of the most volatile battlegrounds of the Afghanistan War.

His work busting organized crime became invaluable to the mission when Brigadier General David Fraser selected Sajjan as a special intelligence officer. Fraser later told the Globe and Mail, "I picked him because of his experience in dealing with gangs because the Taliban were nothing more than a bunch of thugs and gangs."

2. An innovative warrior

As a practising Sikh, Sajjan cannot cut or trim his hair. To prevent this "article of faith" from getting in the way during combat missions, he created and patented a gas mask to accommodate his beard. The new gear could open the door for other Sikhs to enter active service in the American military.

3. Faith saved him from a life of crime

As a teenager, Sajjan says his life was headed in the wrong direction. To avoid spiralling into a life of crime, he became a baptized Sikh: "It wasn't really a religious thing," he told the Vancouver Sun. "It was an identity thing. I needed the commitment because I knew it would keep me on the right path. I found the true meaning of Sikhism and I loved the warrior aspect of it."

4. He stands out from his predecessors

And not just because of his religion. Sajjan's active role in combat missions distinguishes him from his four predecessors, especially Jason Kenney and Rob Nicholson, who had no military experience.

5. He supports fighting gangs through legalization

The former cop sees legalizing cannabis as a way to fight crime.

During the 2015 federal campaign, the Conservative Party of Canada attacked Justin Trudeau's pledge to legalize marijuana by saying it would make cannabis more accessible to children.

Sajjan came to his leader's defence with a thoughtful rebuttal. In an interview with CBC, he noted that prohibition made buying cannabis easier than ordering a pizza in Vancouver. Legalization, he added, would disrupt organized crime and keep cannabis away from minors.

h/t CBC, Huffington Post, Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail


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