Paralympian, terror prisoner, refugee among Trudeau cabinet hopefuls

The Liberals have elected an eclectic group of rookie MPs, if the résumés of some caucus members are any indication.

While there are plenty of former lawyers, businesspeople and some doctors, quite a few of the people being suggested for cabinet stand out in other ways.

Take Amarjeet Sohi, who worked as a bus driver for years before becoming an Edmonton city councillor in 2007.

The rookie MP for Edmonton-Mill Woods spent almost two years imprisoned on terrorism charges in India.

According to a profile in the Edmonton Journal, Sohi, a Sikh, returned to India in 1988 to study. At the time he was also involved in activism for land reform in an impoverished Indian state.

He was arrested by the police and charged with terrorism, beaten and imprisoned for 21 months – 18 of which were spent in solitary confinement. He was eventually released when a new government decided that the charges had no merit.

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Alberta Liberal Kent Hehr was a junior hockey player as a kid. As he took a ride home with his teammates one night when he was 21 years old, he was the victim of a drive-by shooting that rendered him a quadriplegic and left him in a wheelchair.

Hehr went back to school, got a law degree and was eventually recognized as Graduate of the Decade by the University of Calgary. After practising law, he moved into politics. He served as MLA for six years before deciding to run for federal office, and winning.

Carla Qualtrough knows winning. The rookie MP from Delta, BC is a three-time Paralympic medal winner in swimming. Visually impaired since birth, Qualtrough is a former president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee and a human rights lawyer who chaired the B.C. Minister’s Council on Employment and Accessibility.

Maryam Monsef, from Peterborough-Kawartha, has already made history as Canada’s first Afghan-born MP. Monsef and her family fled the Taliban in Afghanistan, arriving in Canada as refugees in 1996. Since then, she has worked in many community groups and co-founded the Red Pashmina Campaign, which raises money for women and girls in Afghanistan.

Karen McCrimmon and Harjit Sajjan both made Canadian Forces history. McCrimmon, from Kanata-Carleton, was Canada’s first woman Air Navigator and first woman commander of a flying squadron. Sajjan, from Vancouver South, was the first Sikh commander of a Canadian army regiment.


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