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Politics Forces investigating soldier’s ‘racist’ comments toward Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan

National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan gestures after being sworn-in during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Nov. 4, 2015. He has ordered Canada’s top soldier to make suicide in the military a top priority, after a surgeon general’s report showed an increase in suicide rates among those in the military in the past decade.

BLAIR GABLE/REUTERS

The Canadian Armed Forces is investigating racist comments about newly appointed Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan made by a soldier on Facebook.

The military declined to identify the soldier or precisely what was written but a source said the non-commissioned member, a Quebecker, made an "inappropriate statement" about Mr. Sajjan's "ethnic background."

Mr. Sajjan immigrated to Canada from India when he was a young boy.

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The offensive Facebook post, which was written in French, was quickly removed.

A Forces spokesman said the army's chain of command is probing the matter.

Mr. Sajjan is a decorated military veteran who served three tours of duty for the Forces in Afghanistan, and one in Bosnia, and worked as a detective in the Vancouver Police Service. Brigadier-General David Fraser once called him the "best single Canadian intelligence asset in theatre."

The incident of disrespect to the minister prompted Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West to send an e-mail to soldiers warning against such conduct.

He lamented the fact a high-ranking member of the Forces made "negative" comments about the minister and warned them against disrespectful behaviour, adding that to say he is angry would be an understatement.

The Forces issued a strong statement Wednesday condemning the behaviour.

"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," Forces spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said.

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"Racist attitudes are not compatible with military ethos and with effective military service. Any conduct that reflects such attitudes will not be tolerated," he said.

"The institution is entirely committed to the principle of equality of all people and the dignity and worth of every human being," the Forces spokesman said.

"As previously stated by Chief of the Defence Staff Jonathan Vance, bullies have no place in the organization."

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