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Ahmed Hussein reelected in York South-Weston in Canada's 2019 election

By Karon Liu , The Star
A 2015 Star profile described a 16-year-old Hussein arriving in Canada as a refugee from Mogadishu in 1993.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Liberal Ahmed Hussein won in York South-Weston, holding the riding for the Liberals and defeating NDP candidate Yafet Tewelde.

The riding was considered a Liberal stronghold, though, in the week leading up to the election, polls indicated the NDP was gaining on the Minister of Immigration.

Also in the running was Conservative candidate Jasveen Rattan, the Green Party’s Nicki Ward, and PPC’s Gerard Racine. With the exception of 2011-2015 when the riding was held by the NDP and 1996-2000 when it was held by former Liberal-turned-Independent candidate John Nunziata, the riding has been represented by Liberals since 1979.

In an interview on Saturday in the lead-up to the election, Hussein said that the number one issue affecting the riding is flooding in the Black Creek area, as residents have been dealing with flooded basements and overflowing sewage during heavy rainstorms. This past August, the city ombudsman had to step in to look into how the city is dealing with compensation claims from homeowners.

Hussein also said that if reelected he would continue to tackle issues such as affordable housing, more jobs for youths and more funding for seniors’ programs such as Meals on Wheels. In addition, he says he wants to see increased investment in transit infrastructure for the area as well as work on community safety.

Hussein was first elected in York South-Weston in the 2015 federal election, becoming the first Somali-born MP in Canada. In January 2017, he was sworn in as the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. A 2015 Star profile described a 16-year-old Hussein arriving in Canada as a refugee from Mogadishu in 1993.

After finishing high school in Hamilton, he moved into subsidized housing with his brother in Regent Park, put himself through York University while working at a gas station in Mississauga, and co-founded the Regent Park Community Council that advocated for a $500 million revitalization plan.

Hussein later practiced law, focusing on criminal defense, immigration and refugee law, and human rights before getting into politics.

Originally from Eritrea, Tewelde grew up in the York South-Weston riding. He later studied at York University and subsequently pursued a Ph.D. in philosophy and did research work on the history of black social justice. He’s a community organizer who’s combated racial profiling and helped to create tenant associations in response to rising rents.

During his campaign, Tewelde focused on issues he said affected his riding the most: unaffordable housing, flooding, lack of investment to reduce poverty rates and empowering neighborhood youths with mentorship programs and services.

Conservative candidate Jasveen Rattan previously served as the director of communications for Mississauga councilor Ron Starr’s reelection campaign last year. She earned a Ph.D. in Recreation and Leisure Studies from the University of Waterloo. At her launch campaign, one of the issues she said she wants to tackle is making the immigration process easier.

The York South-Weston riding is located south of Highway 401, north of the CPR Rail line that borders Parkdale-High Park, east of the Humber River and west of the Canadian National Railway that runs along Caledonia Rd. According to the 2016 census, the riding has a population of just over 116,000 people.

It’s a diverse riding, with large populations of Filipino, Jamaican, East African, Portuguese and Vietnamese people. The riding is also one of the poorest in Toronto with the median household income at $53,292 compared to $74,287 in Ontario and $70,336 nationally.

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