Toddler has temper tantrum after not getting to see Harjit Sajjan

Sophia Popalyar didn't get to see the defence minister on Canada Day ... and she wasn't happy about it

July 05, 2016

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Toddler Sophia Popalyar cries on Canada Day because she wants to meet Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan  0:45

The terrible twos are an age known for temper tantrums — but the meltdowns aren't often over Canadian political figures.

Yet that's precisely why two-year-old Sophia Popalyar freaked out last Friday.


Sophia was headed to Parliament Hill for Canada Day celebrations, where she thought she would see Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. So when her family decided to turn around and head home because of rain, she burst into tears.

Her father, Fawad Popalyar, filmed the hysterics, posting the video online.

"I want to go to Parliament," Sophia is heard crying in the video. "To see who?" her dad asks. "To see Harjit Sajjan," she whines.

When Popalyar explained that Sajjan was in Vancouver with his constituents, she replied: "But I want him. Please."

Sophia is no stranger to Canadian politics: the politically astute toddler went viral last fall when her dad posted a video of her rhyming off the names of several cabinet ministers.

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Canadian toddler names off Justin Trudeau's cabinet ministers  0:25

"She's all into politics and the ministers and what have you. She was very keen to have an opportunity to meet with them," said Popalyar, who is a program adviser with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

"She wanted to meet Harjit Sajjan because she thought that he lived in the Parliament [Buildings]. She thinks all the ministers live there ... She thought that by going to the Canada Day celebrations, she was going to meet the ministers."

Popalyar said he explained to Sophia that MPs live in different provinces and territories, and they're in Ottawa to represent their communities.

"I told her that the ministers were out there in their constituencies so they weren't out in the Parliament on that day. So she understood that and didn't insist on meeting them at that point."

After the rain let up, Sophia got her way and the family headed back to Parliament Hill, where she got to dance around and enjoy the celebrations.

But they didn't get to see any ministers.

One of her favourite ministers

The toddler's obsession with politics came when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet picks back in November. When Popalyar started reading out some of the cabinet minister's names, his daughter latched on.

And for some reason, Sophia took a liking to Sajjan; Popalyar says she talks of him often.

"I'm not sure why, but that's one name that sort of sticks with her. Every time she sees him on TV, she sort of screams his name."

Sajjan's office saw the video Monday and told CBC News they are reaching out to Sophia's family to arrange a visit. Sajjan also replied to the two-year-old's video with one of his own, promising a meet-up.

"I'm so sorry I missed you in Ottawa. Unfortunately, I was celebrating Canada Day with my family here in Vancouver," he said.

Earlier this year, the toddler was invited to Parliament Hill to meet her "favourite" MP, Maryam Monsef, the minister for democratic institutions.

Monsef is the only minister she has gotten to meet so far, her dad says, but she hopes to meet more.

Sophia turns three in August.


Haydn Watters

Haydn Watters is a Toronto-based journalist. He has worked for CBC News and CBC Radio in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and the entertainment unit. He also ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont.

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