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Canada

Liberal incumbent Ahmed Hussen re-elected in Ontario riding

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen pauses in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he is concerned by numbers in a new poll that suggest a majority of Canadians believe the government should limit the number of immigrants it accepts since the country might be reaching a limit to its ability to integrate them.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen pauses in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he is concerned by numbers in a new poll that suggest a majority of Canadians believe the government should limit the number of immigrants it accepts since the country might be reaching a limit to its ability to integrate them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Global News is declaring that Liberal candidate and incumbent MP Ahmed Hussen has been re-elected in the Ontario riding of York South—Weston.

Hussen has served as Canada’s immigration minister since January 2017, when former Liberal MP John McCallum stepped-down from the role to take on the position of ambassador to China.

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In his position as immigration minister, Hussen was often the spokesperson for the government of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau in its fight against anti-immigrant rhetoric and concerns about refugees, especially those who have entered Canada through unofficial border crossings in Quebec and Manitoba since the spring of 2017.

In June 2018, Hussen was engaged in a protracted war of words with Ontario’s minister responsible for immigration, Lisa MacLeod, whom he called “un-Canadian” for referring to would-be refugees who come to Canada from the U.S. as “illegal.”

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Federal immigration minister, Ontario minister blast each other for ‘lack of cooperation’
Federal immigration minister, Ontario minister blast each other for ‘lack of cooperation’

The spat between Hussen and MacLeod was just one in an ongoing series of disputes between the Trudeau Liberals and Ontario Premier Doug Ford over immigration and the cost of providing housing and other social services to refugees.

According to MacLeod, Ontario had spent upwards of $200 million providing assistance to asylum seekers since 2018. The vast majority of these claimants, MacLeod said, had entered Canada at unofficial border crossings.

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The Ford and Trudeau governments also battled over the cost of legal aid supports for refugees, which Ford surprisingly cut as part of his first budget as Ontario premier.

Ottawa eventually stepped in and provided Legal Aid Ontario with a $28 million one-time payment to make up for the anticipated budget shortfall.

Immigration policy changes

In April, Hussen and the Liberals were criticized by refugee advocates for “hiding” reforms to Canada’s immigration system in a massive omnibus budget bill — something Trudeau promised in 2015 that his government would not do.

The changes expanded ineligibility rules for asylum seekers entering Canada at unofficial border crossings, making it impossible for people to make claims if they had tried to gain asylum in another country, such as the U.S., Australia, New Zealand or the U.K.

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The move was seen by some legal experts as unconstitutional. This included advocates from the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR).

Janet Dench, CCR president claimed the change made by the Liberals denied asylum seekers the right to a full hearing before an independent adjudicator. But Hussen and the Liberals denied this allegation, saying anyone who entered Canada would not be deported without receiving a pre-removal risk assessment to see if it was safe to send them back to their home country.

Hussen was also responsible for major reforms to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, including offering open work permits for migrant workers who face abuse from their employers.

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