In the recent cabinet shuffle, an exciting announcement was made regarding The Honourable Ahmed Hussen. On January 10, 2017 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau selected Minister Hussen as the 20th Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship for the Government of Canada. This is a high profile position for a relatively new MP who was elected for the first time in 2014, pointing to his successes in representing the riding of York South-Weston.
This is the first time a recently practicing immigration lawyer will now head the Ministry responsible for the Immigration and Refugee Board as well as processing the thousands of applications that are received from around the world. As a former criminal and immigration lawyer who practiced in Toronto, he is well equipped to lead this important portfolio. Minister Hussen has also been a strong advocate for human rights and upholding international law since he received his bar call in 2012.
Despite his relatively short political career, he has shown himself a persuasive advocate for the rights of refugees. In this video from 2016, he strongly asserts that “Asylum seekers are not criminals. They are human beings in need of protection and assistance and deserving of our respect.” He further urged the government “to ensure that those fleeing persecution have safe passage to countries that will grant them the protections they are entitled to under international law”. After his rousing speech he received a standing ovation from across the floor.
Minister Hussen has also been an advocate for multiculturalism and the successful integration of those seeking refugee protection. In 2011 Mr. Hussen testified before the US State Department regarding Al-Shabaab and attempts at radicalization in the Somali-Canadian community. He talked about the recruitment pressure from extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab and the need to further integrate youth in jobs and professions. One example was the Canadian Somali Jewish Mentorship Project that has steered hundreds of young Canadian Somalis away from alienation and extremism by proactive mentoring and matching educational experience with professional job placements.
On a personal note, he is the father of two and himself came to Canada as a refugee when he was 16 years old. He studied at York University where he earned a BA in History and went on to achieve a law degree at the University of Ottawa. He has previously served as the National President of the Canadian Somali Congress and is well known as an articulate leader and passionate advocate for human rights.