Indian origin student becomes youngest minister in Canada

March 15th, 2008 - 11:52 am ICT by admin  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, March 15 (IANS) Two Indo-Canadians have been given ministerial berths for the first time in the Canadian province of Alberta, with one of them becoming the country’s youngest minister. A record five Indo-Canadians (not four as reported wrongly by another Indian news agency) have won the March 3 assembly elections in the province. Of these five winners, two were sworn in as parliamentary assistants (equivalent to minister of state in India) in Edmonton Thursday when the new Tory government under Premier Ed Stelmach took oath for the new four-year term.

Calgary law student Manmeet Bhullar, who has just turned 28, was appointed parliamentary assistant for advanced education and technology.

Curiously, Bhullar, who was handpicked by the premier to contest the Calgary-Montrose seat because of the infighting in the constituency, has become the youngest minister in Canada.

“Yes, that is what I have been informed about,” Bhullar told IANS.

Raj Sherman, another Indo-Canadian who won the Edmonton-Meadowlark seat for the ruling Tory party, was sworn in as parliamentary assistant for health and wellness.

“It is gratifying that two Indo-Canadians have become ministers in Alberta for the first time in its history. As parliamentary assistants, we are equal to junior ministers in India. Premier Ed Stelmach has introduced the role of parliamentary assistants to assist ministers with the work of their ministry,” Bhullar said.

“My job will involve overseeing operation of programmes, carrying bills through the legislative assembly and its committees, and attending events on behalf of my minister Doug Horner. As well, I will perform the minister’s duties in his absence,” he added.

In his new role, he said he would push for more collaboration between Alberta and India “because our jurisdiction needs skilled people from wherever in the world we can get them”.

“I have not been to India for nine years, and I look forward to going over there,” Bhullar said.

There are about 80,000 Indo-Canadians in oil-rich Alberta.

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