Ahmed Hussen’s bad day

With all the other talk of foreign governments influencing politicians, you might have missed the Maclean’s article last week on how Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the repugnant Turkish autocrat, has been influencing Canadian politics and our MP Ahmed Hussen.

Hussen was in Istanbul on the night of the coup attempt, reportedly on vacation with his mother. But, according to local sources, he was also there as a guest of some high-level AK Party politicians, including Kenan Sahin, the mayor of Istanbul’s Pendik district, and Cemalettin Kani Torun, the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission. The next day, he described what he experienced that night to Canadian media in glowing terms.

After the attempted coup, Erdogan’s government imprisoned more than 120 journalists, fired 40,000 teachers, and purged 140,000 civil servants. He has built a 1,100 room presidential palace and changed the constitution so that he can remain President until 2029.

Hussen, perhaps, could not have guessed that there would be a repressive crackdown. But at a later meeting at the Turkish consulate, Hussen played slow pitch, according to Adnan Khan, the Maclean’s author:

The August gathering of Somalis at the Turkish consulate in Toronto—to discuss a coup attempt led by Turks in Turkey—seemed odd to some of those who were present. “It was strange,” Omar Hassan, chairman of the Somali-Canadian Business Council, told Maclean’s. “The Turkish delegation referred to the Gülenists as terrorists and everyone clapped. Hussen talked about the close relationship between Turkey and Somalia but never contradicted the ‘terrorist’ label.”

In the past, Hussen has posed with Erdogan and praised him, saying 

“Great mtg w Turkey’s President Erdoğan. Excellent discussion on ways to strengthen Canada-Turkey relationship.  I also lauded his amazing work in rebuilding Somalia.

The praise has been reciprocal; the Turkish government lauded Hussen for his (factually incorrect) support of Turkish aid in Somalia.

 

 

 

Hussen gets a front-page profile

Ahmed Hussen received a long profile on the front page of the Globe today.

Mr. Hussen, 40, has spent most of his adult life studying, debating, and expounding on what it means to truly belong in a country – as a community organizer for the poor, as a political staffer to Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, as an immigration lawyer, and as the head of the Canadian Somali Congress. His rise is notable. But so, too, are the challenges he now faces: to manage an unpredictable, often-xenophobic American administration, to hold to Canadian values of openness against a worldwide tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. And, through it all, to keep Canadians safe.

Hussen still dodging questions

Ahmed Hussen, our MP and the Minister of Immigration, is still refusing to answer direct questions in the House.

This week, Michelle Rempel (CPC) asked him about the failure of more than half of Syrian refugees to find jobs, and how much that has cost the provinces.

Hussen did not answer. Instead, he told her how much the feds (not the provinces) have provided—not how much the refugees have cost.

Rempel pointed out that he did not answer the question, and posed another:

My question is very simple. How much will the government pay in Canadian taxpayers’ dollars to support its ill-fated refugee plan?

Hussen said that Canada is consistently praised for being compassionate (the thirteenth time he has mentioned that this year!) and said (for the fourth time) that the Liberals would “take no lessons” from other parties.
He then brought up Mexican visas for no discernible reason.

Hussen profile in Macleans

Macleans has a very flattering profile of our MP, Ahmed Hussen.

From Macleans

It’s virtually impossible to imagine a way in which the 40-year-old could be better suited to the cabinet job he now holds. He came to Canada fleeing the Somali civil war, and subsequently lived in Regent Park, a once-troubled and isolated downtown Toronto public housing project he would help rejuvenate and repatriate to the residents when redevelopment came calling. Later, he opened a law practice focusing on immigration law and criminal cases, particularly for young offenders.

Hussen is not answering questions

Ahmed Hussen; our MP and the Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees; is facing tough questions in the press and in Parliament—and he’s avoiding them with repetitive answers of Liberal talking points.

On February 9, Hélène Laverdière, NDP, asked Hussen about refugees entering Canada from the USA. Hussen responded with an irrelevant response about Canadian refugee statistics.

this year alone, we will welcome 40,000 refugees in Canada. That includes 25,000 resettled refugees, which is double the number that the previous government welcomed.

Laverdière, unimpressed, said “Mr. Speaker, that was not really what I asked, but whatever.”

A day later, Michelle Rempel, CPC, asked Hussen about the terminated Iranian LGBT refugee program. Hussen’s response was almost exactly the same as the day before—even though the question could not have been more different.

this year we welcomed 40,000 refugees. That includes 25,000 resettled refugees, which is double what the previous government brought….and that obviously includes members of the LGBTQ2 community.

Rempel wasn’t pleased either: “The minister did not answer the question.” She is right: the question was one sentence and perfectly clear: “why has the government ended the practice of prioritizing persecuted Iranian LGBT as refugees to Canada?”

It’s an important question, too.

But it gets weirder.

When, both times, he was called out on his non-answers, he responded:

We will take no lessons from those parties on our record.

We will take no lessons from the previous government

I have no idea what is going on here. Hussen is new to the portfolio—but the portfolio has rarely been so important. Repeating Liberal talking points does no one favours, least of all the refugees in peril. An honest answer—even if it’s uncertain—is better than a non-answer.

It’s not that Liberals are being forbidden to respond; after Hussen floundered, Ralph Goodale provided a succinct answer to another of Laverdière’s questions; he said the MP in the riding has been in touch with the complainant, and he would follow up.

I’m so proud! We’re so great! Yay us!

Our MP, Ahmed Hussen, has been much in the news this past week. As the Immigration Minister, he has been busy putting out fires as Trump takes a torch to years of American refugee policy.

On the whole, the coverage is positive, even glowing—but Hussen has been drawing criticism for not allowing more refugees into Canada. His response: “We don’t develop policy on the fly”. Fair enough: the government is already struggling to bring refugees in as quickly as sponsors will welcome them.

Yet Hussen, though new to his position, has quickly mastered the art of not answering a direct question. On Tuesday, he was asked, quite simply: will Trudeau condemn Trump’s dangerous, racist policies, yes or no? Hussen’s answer:

[W]e are very proud of our record of being open and welcoming to refugees and immigrants as a way to meet our international obligations, but also viewing immigration as a great ingredient for our economic prosperity. We will continue that tradition. We will make sure that we continue to be open to people and ideas. We will continue to thank Canadians for their generosity and continue to welcome Syrian and other refugees.

Wait, wait! That’s the answer to a different questionHussen was asked whether Trudeau would stand up to Trump, not whether Canada would continue to welcome Syrian refugees.

But about that. Will we?

Well, maybe. Hussen wouldn’t answer how many Yazidi refugees will be resettled, nor whether LGBT refugees will be hurried. He wouldn’t raise the cap on church- and community-sponsored refugees either.

He did, however, find time to commend his own government. And you. You’re great. He said so six times. We should be “proud” of being “welcoming”, “generous”, “welcoming” (again), “compassionate”, “welcoming” (three times), and “proud”.

How great we all are seems to have become a Liberal talking point or a verbal tick.

In fact, that I propose a drinking game: every time Hussen,—or any Liberal—tries to hypnotize us by telling us to be proud of what we are legally and morally required to do, we do a shot.

God knows, this week makes me want a drink.


Here’s a selection of from Hussen’s speeches, just from the past three days! 

 

Canada can be proud of its tradition of being an open society that welcomes refugees.
Canada’s refugee system is recognized as being one of the most compassionate and generous systems in the world.
Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our record of being open and welcoming to refugees
Mr. Speaker, Canada continues to be a welcoming country to newcomers, including those refugees fleeing persecution and war.
Mr. Speaker, our government has been recognized widely as being a great government for welcoming and resettling refugees from across the world.
… we are proud of the fact that Canadians continue to be generous to those seeking protection.

 

Trump’s vile policies reach Weston

Protestor in Washington, DC. Photo by Laurie Shaull.
Protestor in Washington, DC. Photo by Laurie Shaull.

Donald Trump’s repugnant policies reached right into Weston this week. Our MP, Ahmed Hussen, who is the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, had to deal with the prospect of dual citizens, permanent residents, and in-transit travellers unable to go to the US after Donald Trump signed a travel ban.

Bizarrely, Hussen even had to consider whether he, the Minister of Immigration, might be unable to travel there.

Asked about his own situation and whether he worried that he might be blocked from travelling to the U.S. because of his birthplace:

“Yes, I was born in Somalia, but I took my oath of citizenship to this country 15 years ago. And I’m a Canadian. I’ve spent most of my life here and I continue to be proud of our country our ability to be generous and to view those who seek protection.”

Hussen, though a Canadian citizen, fled to Canada as a refugee when he was a teen. Somalia is one of the seven predominantly-Muslim countries whose citizens are now disallowed entry into America.

Though Hussen did not “bluntly denounce” Trump’s policy, he did say “Canada is a country of immigrants…. We have always welcomed people in need and will continue to do so.”

Laura Albanese, Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, reiterated that commitment today in a news release. She said:

I spoke to the federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, and reiterated Ontario’s open door stance with respect to receiving immigrants and refugees from all countries, irrespective of race, ethnicity or faith.

We will proudly continue to welcome people from all parts of the world as we continue to create economic security and opportunity and develop the diverse and inclusive communities where all people thrive.