Omar Alghabra is a Canadian politician who was recently elected to represent the Mississauga-Erindale riding as a Member of Parliament under Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. He was first elected into that seat in 2006 until 2008. Alghabra is a mechanical engineer by trade, graduated from Ryerson in the 1990’s and was appointed a distinguished visiting fellow by the school in 2013. Communities editor Dylan Freeman-Grist caught up with Alghabra at a charity dinner for Lifeline Syria to ask him a few questions:
Can you tell me about your history at Ryerson?
I graduated from Ryerson in 1994 as a mechanical engineer. Ryerson for me, really, was my gateway to Canada. I had just arrived to Canada a year before entering Ryerson. I had come here by myself without family when I was 19. It was, for me, the place and the time, where I got to learn much about Canadians, Canada and I made so many life-long friends so there’s obviously, like most people who graduate from the University, I have a soft spot for them.
Faith had it that I ended up working for Ryerson. So it’s an amazing history, story that I have and affection I have for Ryerson.
And you’re a visiting fellow correct?
I’m currently a visiting fellow with the faculty of Engineering.
What do you hope to bring to Ottawa this time?
I hope to bring to Ottawa a fresh perspective. A voice that is perhaps not often heard. My own passion and my own commitment to equality, to justice, to wanting to see this country move forward.
What are your thoughts on Justin Trudeau?
Obviously I’m very happy to see him become our new Prime Minister, I know I’m very proud of the campaign that he ran, he inspired many of us including myself. He performed exceptionally well — he revealed his true colours, his passion, his values during that campaign period and Canadians really got to know him, not through attack ads but directly first hand. To hear what he had to say, to see what he had to say and I can already tell, from many Canadians, that we’re already feeling a different tone, a different approach to government, to dealing with Canadians, to dealing with policies. So I’m extremely optimistic and I’m looking forward to the coming weeks, months and years.
Is there anything from Ryerson that you’re bringing to your new job in Ottawa?
For sure. I mean everything I learned from Ryerson shaped my perspective. Whether as a student, or a visiting fellow or as just an alumni. So it has, and it continues to have significant impact on my perspective and that perspective is what’s going to remain with me whether I’m in Ottawa or somewhere else. What I discovered about Ryerson, and I went to other schools, is the innovative spirit that exists. In administrative stuff and even academic stuff the innovative spit, the entrepreneurial mindset, is what I really take away from Ryerson and I hope I can take it with me in politics.