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‘It was a betrayal of his most basic duty’: Five Tweets on Minister Sajjan’s controversial orders during the fall of Afghanistan


Hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Aug. 16, 2021. Shekib Rahmani/AP Photo.

Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s minister of defence during the fall of Kabul in August of 2021, has been accused of prioritizing Afghan Sikhs over Canadians and former locally engaged staff when the federal government airlifted civilians out of Afghanistan.

Amidst the chaos, Canada left behind 1,250 Canadian citizens, permanent residents, their families, and several hundred interpreters and fixers who helped the Canadian Armed Forces during Canada’s 13-year presence in the country. New reporting from the Globe and Mail alleges Sajjan meanwhile ordered the Canadian special forces to prioritize rescuing 225 Afghan Sikhs.

Sajjan, a Sikh man himself, insists his actions did not demonstrate preferential treatment or put Canadians at risk. He added that rescuing vulnerable groups—LGBTQ, women, and religious minorities—was a priority for the federal government.

Here are five Tweets responding to Sajjan’s controversial orders during the fall of Kabul.

Late last week, journalists Robert Fife and Steven Chase broke the news with a Globe and Mail article headlined “Sajjan instructed special forces to rescue Afghan Sikhs during fall of Kabul.”

Military sources confirmed that Canadian soldiers were told to divert their attention and resources away from Canadian citizens and permanent residents and towards a dangerous mission that involved rescuing Sikhs with no connection to Canada.

“In a humanitarian crisis, we have a responsibility to get Canadians out first and we get Afghans out who helped us out next. Once you get all those people out, you can start to look at the rest,” said retired major-general David Fraser, who led troops in Afghanistan during the war and was a part of private evacuation efforts.

Former lieutenant-colonel Andrew Scheidl wrote on X that “Sajjan should have been fired from cabinet for this immediately in 2021. It was a betrayal of his most basic duty of protecting Canadian citizens.” The former soldier pointed to the fact that the evacuation took place amidst a Canadian federal election, a period the minister said he was not checking his emails.

Canada’s Afghan airlift efforts ended on August 27, 2021, a day after the Sikh rescue mission failed when the group of Sikhs got cold feet and left the rendezvous point before Canadian soldiers could get to them. They later managed to escape to India.

When Sajjan was questioned by the media, he called the claims made by Fife and Chase “utter B.S.”

He clarified that he provided “direction” following the chain of command, rather than an “order.” Still, military sources have countered that a directive from the minister of defence is the same as receiving an order.

The now emergency preparedness minister cited an approved government policy that entailed rescuing vulnerable Afghan religious minorities, Sikhs and Hindus, as the reason for his directive. That policy was the result of the government’s partnership with the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation, a Canadian NGO that advocates for the safety of persecuted religious minorities in Afghanistan.

The foundation quickly came to the minister’s defence, writing that, “The unnamed sources in the article and countless keyboard warriors online are wholly misguided” when they said that Afghan Sikhs and Hindus were not to be directly helped by the government. They also disputed the idea that a specific rescue mission had been planned.

In responding to further questioning, Sajjan said that he would not be receiving this scrutiny if he, “was not wearing a turban.” He said that the “racism” he, in his mind, is facing from individuals questioning his actions “needs to be called out.”

His critics saw this response as a cop-out.

Fife and Chase, in their typical fashion, followed up their initial piece with the breaking news that some affiliates and executives of the Manmeet Singh Bhullar Foundation made several personal donations worth thousands of dollars to Sajjan’s riding association during and shortly after the fall of Kabul, coinciding with the 2021 federal election. Sajjan’s office said he had no comment on the donations.

The Bloc Québécois is calling on the government to investigate Sajjan’s role in the rescue operation.

In recent polling, the Trudeau Liberals are behind the Poilievre Conservatives by double digits. Needless to say, this latest scandal (on top of Minister Sajjan’s previous scandals) will not do them any favours. As the party attempts to appeal to Canadians, Norman Spector, a former chief of staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, speculated that it is “hard to imagine” that Sajjan has not submitted his resignation or been asked by Trudeau’s chief of staff to do so yet.

The Week in Polling: Canadians’ declining optimism for the future, a historic Conservative by-election win and refugee motivations


People take in the Canada 150 celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Saturday, July 1, 2017. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press.

This is The Week in Polling, your Saturday dose of interesting numbers from top pollsters in Canada and around the world, curated by The Hub. Here’s what we’re looking at this week.

Canadians expect the next generation to have a lower quality of life than they have today

Seven in ten Canadians say they believe the next generation will have a lower standard of living than today, reaching an all-time high since this metric was first tracked in 2012. Respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 are more likely (74 percent) to expect the next generation to have a lower standard of living than those aged 55 and over (65 percent).

While the poll did not directly explain why so many Canadians expect living standards to worsen, presumably, the Canadian economy might have been considered. In 2016, Canada’s economy ranked 17th in the world based on gross domestic product (GDP) at purchasing power parity. PWC projected the Canadian economy to dip to 18th by 2030 and then to 22nd by 2050, in which Canada is projected to be well below the global average in real growth per capita. Goldman Sachs predicted that Canada will be under the global average in GDP growth every year from 2030 to 2079.

Housing costs and income disparity are also a consideration. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, homes in Canada are, on average, just south of $700,000 based on the most recent data available. In 2022, the last year of available data from Statistics Canada, the average total income for a working-age Canadian was $57,100 before taxes. The 63 percent of Canadians who don’t own a home have “given up” on ever owning one, according to a recent Ipsos poll.