Ottawa (Caasimada Online) – The Canadian Housing Minister, Ahmed Hussen, has come under scrutiny for awarding contracts worth $93,050 to Munch More Media, a Toronto-based public relations firm specializing in promoting the restaurant and food services industry.
The contracts were awarded from Hussen’s constituency office budget, not his ministerial budget. Hiba Tariq, the director of the company, is the sister of Tia Tariq, the director of policy and a close adviser to Hussen.
When questioned about the awarding of the contracts, Hussen stated that his constituency office “followed all the rules” and that he was “happy with the services” provided by Munch More Media. He did not rule out hiring the firm in the future.
Hussen also pointed out that members of parliament are permitted to pay for services, including communications services. The Office of the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Commissioner was also consulted before the contracts were awarded.
However, the commissioner’s office spokesperson stated that it could not answer questions from Canadian network, Global News, as any advice provided by the office is confidential, and any requests for advice are also confidential.
It was also reported on Friday that Marci Ien, the Canadian Minister of Women and Gender Equality, also gave $10,000 in contracts from her constituency budget to Munch More Media in 2021. At the time, Ien was not a minister.
Tia Tariq was listed as a director of policy for Ien’s office on the lobby registry, but Ien’s office stated that this was incorrect and Tia Tariq was not working for Ien at the time.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on the situation during a press conference on Monday, stating that it was the responsibility of any member of parliament to make sure they were communicating and connecting with their citizens.
He added that the minister was answering questions on the matter and making sure all rules were being followed.
It is important to note that according to research done by Global News on the spending of the constituency budget by cabinet ministers, Hussen is among a small group of ministers who have invested a substantial amount of public funds on external public relations assistance in recent months.
Ahmed Hussen was the first Somali-Canadian to be elected to the House of Commons. He was first elected as a Member of Parliament in 2015, representing the riding of York South—Weston in Toronto.
Before entering politics, Hussen practiced law and was active in community organizing and advocacy. He has served as the President of the Canadian Somali Congress and as a board member of various community organizations. He also served as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.