Plane Talk with Navdeep Bains: On opening doors and shutting down the U.S. president

Click to play video: 'Navdeep Bains on conversations with President Obama'
Navdeep Bains on conversations with President Obama
Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains joins Tom Clark for some Plane Talk about basketball, music and why he has more friends since coming into office – Oct 16, 2016

Growing up Sikh in Canada, Navdeep Bains knew he looked different than most of his peers. So in his mind, he had two choices: “When I go into a room, I get a little bit of attention. Either I take advantage of that attention and do something good, or I shy away from it.”

Bains came from humble beginnings, born in Brampton, Ont. to Sikh immigrants. Twenty-six years later, after completing a master’s in business administration and receiving his Certified Management Accounting designation, Bains entered federal politics. When he won his riding in the 2004 federal election, he became the youngest Liberal MP in cabinet.

Although he lost the 2011 election, he rallied in 2015, winning his seat and a spot in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet.

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“I think being a Sikh, at least on a personal level, has opened a lot of doors for me,” he told The West Block’s Tom Clark during a Plane Talk segment. “My grandparents raised me, taught me a lot about my faith, taught me a lot about my identity. I think that created a lot of confidence, which enabled me to do well in school, which now has enabled me to do well in politics, but also in sports as well.”

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WATCH: Plane Talk Extended: Navdeep Bains on his faith and future political ambitions.

His love of sports, particularly playing basketball, comes second to his work and family – but it was the first topic of conversation in March when he met U.S. President Barack Obama, an avid Chicago Bulls fan; a story he casually brought up while flying high above the National Capital Region.

READ MORE: Feds getting ‘pushback’ on immigration from Canadians, minister says

“When I went to the U.S. and had the chance to meet the American president … the only thing I talked to the president about was sports and basketball,” Bains said. “I put down the Chicago Bulls and picked up our Toronto Raptors.”

Despite his casual tone, the singularity of the experience is not lost on Bains.

“I tried to act cool, but inside, my heart was pounding,” he said. “My dad came here from a remote village in India … [He had] a few dollars, worked hard, and now to be a member of Parliament, to be the minister of innovation, to represent Canada at the White House, it’s a big deal. I don’t take it lightly. It was a very, very special moment for me.”

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