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.

Ezra Levant praises Ahmed Hussen

Ezra Levant is a an abrasive right-wing commenter on all things political. He reports for Rebel Media and has a lot to say about the Liberal government – most of it sharply critical. On Friday, he had a few things to say about our MP Ahmed Hussen’s recent promotion. In Levant’s video piece from last Friday, January 13, he shows Hussen in extracts from CSPAN, testifying in 2011 to a U.S. Congress Homeland Security committee concerned with the radicalization of recent immigrants, particularly those from Somali communities south of the border. In the first clip, he states,

I’m a Canadian Muslim who is proud of his faith and heritage, and I truly believe that the Canadian and American values of liberty, democracy, rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities do complement and work neatly with the tenets of my faith.

Levant likes Hussen’s stance on immigrants and their need to adopt Canadian values. Levant thinks that this viewpoint is in sharp contrast to the one held by the the Liberal Party and in particular, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The video is posted below. Thanks to commenter ‘Westonarian’ for the tip.

 

Hussen promoted to Cabinet

Ahmed Hussen speaking in Parliament. Screen shot from YouTube.

In a cabinet shuffle announced today, newly minted MP Ahmed Hussen has been promoted to Immigration Minister and becomes the first black and Somali-Canadian member of the Trudeau cabinet. Hussen will take the place of John McCallum who has been appointed Ambassador to China.

Hussen came to Canada from Mogadishu as a 16 year-old and later managed to put himself through York University, earning a B.A. He worked in provincial politics before standing in the 2015 general election for the Liberals.

As a rookie MP, his rise to cabinet has been meteoric by any standards. York South Weston is already represented by influential representatives; the Speaker of Toronto Council, Frances Nunziata and the provincial Minister of Citizenship, Laura Albanese. Let’s hope this increased power and influence translates into some positive results for York South-Weston.

CBC has the full story here.

Hussen launches youth council

Ahmed Hussen, our MP, has launched a youth council, according to InsideToronto.

“I don’t think we have enough venues and forums for young people to bring forth ideas and then for those ideas to move forward or at least have the chance to move forward,” he said.

“I want to be able to get a sense of what the issues are for young people in my riding. The youth council is one way to do that.”

Last day of the market


Today was the last day of the Weston Farmers’ Market. I went with my family at midday, when the vendors were beginning to wind down. There was a pronounced melancholy in the air, along with the threat of rain.

2collageThe three local politicians were there, announcing to a small crowd a new—and quite nice—mural facing the GO parking lot. It has a quite different aesthetic than most of the murals in town: more abstract, with an 1980’s colour palette.