POLITICS

Harjit Sajjan, Defence Minister, Target Of 'Racist' Online Post

11/12/2015 11:05 EST | Updated 11/12/2015 12:59 EST

The Canadian military has launched a probe into offensive comments made about the country's new defence minister.

The Globe and Mail reports that a Facebook post containing racist remarks about Harjit Sajjan's background was swiftly removed Wednesday.

“We are very much aware of an incident in which a Canadian Armed Forces member wrote inappropriate comments on social media about the new Minister of National Defence,” military spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier told the paper in a statement.

The person who posted the comments, as well as the post's specific material, has not been identified, but a source told the Toronto Star the individual is a a non-commissioned officer from Quebec.

“It’s totally unacceptable. We already deal with conduct problems on a daily bases in our ranks and it’s our duty, and that of our leaders, to put an end to it immediately," wrote the armed forces Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West in a Nov. 5 email to military members. "I was made aware of this incident and to say that I am mad is not the word.”

Sajjan, the newly elected Vancouver South MP who was sworn in on Nov. 4 with the rest of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet, has served in Bosnia and was deployed three times to Afghanistan. He was also a police officer in Vancouver for 11 years, where he "tackled gang violence and drug crimes."

"Nobody should under-estimate Harjit," retired brigadier-general Dave Fraser told The Canadian Press. Fraser gave Sajjan the job of dealing with volatile Afghan power brokers at a time when the Taliban were launching offensive attacks and Canadian casualties were on the rise.

"Some people in Ottawa are going to want to pick on him because he's new, but let me tell you, he is tough and smart, and determined."

With files from The Canadian Press

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