Minister of National Defense visits University of Waterloo


Photo by Luke Sarazin
Photo by Luke Sarazin

It was an exciting time for political enthusiasts this past Saturday as Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo Young Liberals co-hosted the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, the current Minister of National Defence.

Before beginning his political career, Sajjan served Canada and his community not only as a soldier, but also as a police officer.  Now, Sajjan is a retired Lieutenant-Colonel from the Canadian Armed Forces and a combat veteran.

The Minister of National Defence has received numerous acclamations for his service, including the Meritorious Service Medal for reducing the Taliban’s influence in the Kandahar Province. He is also a recipient of the Order of Military Merit, one of the military’s highest recognitions.

According to Sajjan, his transition to politics was formed off the desire to not just create a structure in Canada, but also to demonstrate to the world what is possible.

“Courage isn’t just about picking up a gun and fighting. Courage is about sticking up for people’s rights,” said Sajjan.

Sajjan, who was accompanied by Waterloo MP, Bardish Chagger and Kitchener Centre MP, Raj Saini, emphasized that as politicians and representatives of Canadians, although temporary, they all had a reason for getting involved in politics.

“Of course everyone wants to succeed, but we need to have an impact somewhere and make a difference,” said Sajjan.

In addition to his official duties, Sajjan has a strong passion for youth advocacy.

“The younger you are, the smarter you are. Youth are globally connected, which allows them to understand more and get information from around the world far quicker than previous generations,” he said.

According to Sajjan, this allows youth to get a different perspective than previous generations, allowing them to see the issues that are going on around the world and connecting them.

“The impact that you want to make is possible because we have the ability not to just look at what we want to do in our community, but we also get to look at the impact we want to have in the world,” said Sajjan.

What Sajjan and other politicians are trying to do is set up the stage for the younger generations.

“Don’t define your success by what you want to be, but rather why do you want to succeed. If you can answer that question and believe it, the how to your success will always be automatic, because you will drive yourself internally,” Sajjan said.

The Minister of National Defence is travelling to Mali and Senegal this week to discuss where to send hundreds of Canadian peace troopers.

According to Sajjan, Africa is really important to him, but not in just one area.

Rather, the Minister is looking at where Canada is able to best contribute.

Sajjan emphasized that his trip is more about finalizing his fact-finding in Africa and putting all the information together to prepare a comprehensive plan they can announce.

“There’s certain areas that have conflict where other nations can have a bigger impact and we’re going to allow them,” Sajjan said.

“We’re not going to focus on one area, but we’re going to look at all aspects that our government can do.”

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