First elected to the House of Commons in 2015, Arif Virani now serves as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, with a focus on multiculturalism.
Formerly the Parliamentary Secretary toto the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Virani was a refugee to Canada himself, arriving from Uganda as an infant in 1972. His family was part of the 7,000 Ismaili Muslim refugees expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin and welcomed to Canada. Virani was born in Kampala, Uganda, and has family roots in Ahmedabad, India.
This personal history had a big impact on Virani’s life. After graduating with a BA in history and political science from McGill University he went on to receive his LLB at the University of Toronto and became a human rights lawyer.
He has worked for the rights of refugees throughout his career. He was an analyst with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, an investigator with la Commission des droits de la personne et droits de la jeunesse and as an assistant trial attorney with the United Nation’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He also spent time with the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.
Virani is active in the Parkdale–High Park community. He is the founder of SALCO, a legal aid clinic in Toronto. As a result of his work Virani receives the 2001 Harold G. Fox Scholarship and the 2008 Wilson-Prichard Award for his work in the legal profession and in his community.
He is a member of the Redwood Shelter, which helps women fleeing abuse. He also works to end mental health stigma in his community. He is a regular volunteer with Roncyworks, a project focused on revitalization of Toronto’s Roncesvalles Village, and with the Parkdale Food Bank.
Fluent in English, French and Hindi, Virani is married and is a father of two sons.