Arif Virani

Downtown Liberal victor sees immigration and health as priority

The winner in the Parkdale-High Park riding, in Monday night’s federal vote, has put health care at the top of his to-do list as the new MP.

On Monday, Parkdale-High Park constituents elected Liberal candidate Arif Virani over NDP incumbent, Peggy Nash. Virani attracted just over 42 per cent of votes, according to the CBC’s Canada Votes website, while Nash garnered just over 40 per cent of ballots.

MP designate Virani has his sights set on immediate changes. A former Ugandan-Asian refugee, he wants to see immediate change with regard to health.

“Restore medical care for refugee applicants,” Virani said. “(It’s) easy to do, immediate and it affects peoples actual quality of life and their ability to gain treatment right now.”

Brandan Rowe, director of communications for Virani’s campaign, spoke of his respect for Peggy Nash, a respect that many Liberal volunteers expressed at Virani’s post-election reception.

“I think the difference was that only a year or a few years ago, Peggy Nash was talking about deficit spending being appropriate when the economy is sluggish and not growing,” Rowe said. “Then all of a sudden, she turned around and said deficits are not appropriate and I think that that’s where a lot of people were not sure.”

Virani elaborated on his second priority, fast-tracking 25,000 Syrian refugees through the Canadian immigration process. He said it should happen, “regardless of what religion they practice.

“Cherry picking religions is not … and has never been a part of our refugee policy and it never should have ever been a part of our refugee policy,” Virani added. “We’ll admit those people immediately. That’s what needs to be done.”