Former CSIS Agent Huda Mukbil Hopes to Win Election to Stand Up for Discriminated and Marginalized Canadians
When life gave Huda Mukbil systemic racism, she decided to make a political change.
After nearly two decades with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the former senior intelligence officer and NDP candidate for Ottawa South crossed the public sector floor to run in the September 20 federal election after nearly two decades with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
Lack of diversity in leadership and instances of alleged discrimination pushed Mukbil out of the realm of national security.
She then consulted for the black public servants class action lawsuit and found that the problem stretched far into the federal public sector.
While working on the case, Mukbil and other black lawyers discovered that Canada’s employment equity laws had not been updated in the past 25 years.
“There were systemic issues that deprived Black Canadians of opportunities in decision-making in general,” Mukbil said. “We have 3.4 percent of black Canadians in this country, and they are not represented at all in any capacity in leadership positions across the federal government.”
The class action work experience has made Mukbil realize that she needs to be where laws are made, policies are debated, and where the power really lies in terms of the broader impact.
She knows, however, that change will not be easy.
Women in politics suffer “unnecessary pain”, says Mukbil
Mukbil said women in politics still face reluctance, citing Catherine McKenna, a former Liberal MP for Ottawa Center, who left politics after suffering extensive harassment.
Harassment and discrimination are things that many racialized women and political candidates experience, Mukbil said.
“It’s unnecessary pain that we’re going through, but as long as you’re focused on the goal, you have to keep going,” she said. “We just can’t let that stop us from doing good. “
Systemic racism at the heart of Mukbil’s campaign
Mukbil’s agenda, however, if elected, addresses the systemic racism that Muslims and other marginalized groups face in Canada.
Muslim charities have had their status revoked after being verified by the Canada Revenue Agency in recent years. Mukbil said that 70% of the audited charities were Muslim organizations.
“I think it’s problematic,” she said. “It indicates systemic profiling and racism towards the community. “
Mukbil said these prejudices existed within these government institutions “since their inception”.
The former intelligence officer experienced firsthand the effects of lack of diversity and systemic racism. Mukbil left CSIS in 2017 and helped launch a class action lawsuit with five intelligence officers and analysts who claimed to have been discriminated against because they were black, Muslim or gay.
Mukbil said Radio-Canada News in June she was asked to sever ties with Muslim organizations and felt she was being treated as a second-class citizen.
She also questioned CSIS inaction to arrest Alexandre Bissonnette, who killed six men in a Quebec mosque in 2017.
Mukbil said CBC News that CSIS should have planned its next steps given its online activity.
She said one of the first things she would work on if elected as an MP would be updating those fairness laws so that black and racialized public servants are hired and make sure they are promoted and retained. .
Mukbil said she wanted to make changes to the criminal justice system. She said she heard members of the Ottawa South community say that there was excessive criminalization of racialized groups.
Racialized youth who may have run into trouble in school or with the law don’t have enough support from nonprofits helping them get back on track, Mukbil says.
Barack Obama, his family inspires him to continue
When she’s not thinking about systemic racism and criminal justice reform, Mukbil is a hardcore soccer mom.
Her two children play competitive soccer in the city, so she’s often busy coordinating with her husband who takes them to practice.
Mukbil said her husband was a big supporter of her campaign and helped her a lot.
“I couldn’t have done this without him,” she said. “As a woman, as a racialized woman, you see society telling you ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘you don’t belong to a certain institution’, or that sort of thing. Yet I have it to encourage me.
In addition to the support of her husband and his community, Mukbil looks to former US President Barack Obama for inspiration from his first political campaign.
She said that with all of the hardships Obama faced in his youth and political career, he and his wife Michelle Obama have shown resilience and tried to bring people together.
“Now that I look to the future in my political life, this is the kind of role model that I look at, that I want to be a force that unites people.”