The Honourable Arif Virani was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Parkdale—High Park in 2015. He has previously served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Multiculturalism), and as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
Minister Virani is an Ismaili Muslim who came to Canada in 1972 as a Ugandan Asian refugee. Before entering politics, he practised law for 15 years, starting his career as a civil litigator at Fasken Martineau and subsequently working as a constitutional litigator at the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, advocating for human rights and access to justice.
Minister Virani previously worked as an analyst with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa, an investigator at the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse in Montréal, and an Assistant Trial Attorney prosecuting genocide at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He was a consultant on police reform with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in India, and was also one of the founding board members of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario in Toronto, which provides direct legal services for low-income people of South Asian heritage.
Minister Virani has been an active volunteer in his community. He is a supporter of The Redwood, a shelter for women and children fleeing abuse, has frequently helped at the Parkdale Community Food Bank, and still maintains his role as “Sorauren Park Hoser” ‒ assisting with the community rink build each winter. Prior to his first election, he was also an active volunteer with RoncyWorks, a network of neighbours, business owners, and organizations that work together to improve community space, and led community efforts in Parkdale—High Park to address mental health stigma.
Minister Virani received the 2001 Harold G. Fox litigation scholarship at the Middle Temple in London, United Kingdom, and the 2008 Wilson-Prichard Award from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law in recognition of his contributions to the legal profession and his community.
Minister Virani holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science (Honours) from McGill University, and completed his Bachelor of Laws at the University of Toronto, where he graduated as valedictorian. He speaks English, French, and some Hindi ‒ his Polish, Ukrainian, and Tibetan are works in progress. He is married and the active coach of his two sons.