Yasir Naqvi grew up in a family firmly committed to the ideals of democracy and social justice, so it’s really no surprise that he would choose a career which allowed him to serve the public as an elected official. Naqvi, who is MPP for Ottawa Centre and Attorney General for the Province of Ontario, arrived in Canada in 1988 after his father was imprisoned in Pakistan for leading a pro-democracy march, and he has dedicated himself to building a strong, sustainable Ottawa since he came to the city to attend law school.
Naqvi, who is raising two young children with his wife, Christine, wants to ensure that Ottawa is an inclusive, innovative city which looks towards the future as it continues to grow and evolve. For this, Yasir Naqvi is one of #150GreatPeople in Ottawa, and here, he answers the questionnaire:
What makes Ottawa special to you?
Easy answer: the people. Ottawa is more than a city and the national capital — it is a tight-knit and generous community. From the moment I moved here as a student, I knew this city was my home. Ottawans have a generous spirit and deep pride in our community that I don’t think can be matched anywhere else.
What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?
Ottawa is an intersection of a bunch of worlds, and it has the best of all of them. What’s the saying, “big city with a small town vibe”? As the nation’s capital we have amazing arts and culture, visiting and local talent, great and expanding infrastructure, to name a few. Ottawa has a rich history but is also constantly recreating itself. It is a wonderful place to live and work, and I count myself extremely fortunate and humbled to represent part of this community.
But more simply: Ottawa is a liveable city for me and my family. It is a community that focuses on making sure its people have the best quality of life — and I hope my work and that of my colleagues contributes to that goal.
The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place — why is this important to you?
As an immigrant to Canada, Ottawa welcomed me in and made me feel like I belonged. I found support, a sense of community, and a home here. And I want to make sure that everyone who chooses Ottawa has the same opportunities and experiences.
Ottawa is home for me and my family, and I couldn’t think of a better job than working to give back to the community that has given me so much.
You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways — is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?
I want to point out that everything I’ve been able to do is because of the support, advocacy, and hard work of the community I represent. I tell all my colleagues at Queen’s Park that Ottawa boasts the most engaged constituents anywhere in the province — you are truly a huge part of the work we do. So, I am proud of everything we have accomplished together, like:
• A new LRT — zero emission public transit system
• Hundreds of new affordable housing units in our community
• New and renovated schools in the downtown core
• World-class health care services at the Ottawa Heart Institute and Regional Cancer Care Centre at The Ottawa Hospital
But it’s the work we do on a daily basis — the work that doesn’t get media headlines — helping constituents with some of their most difficult challenges that, perhaps, makes me most proud.
What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?
The wrap up of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation has given me a lot of pause to think about our next 50 years — which I believe are the most important yet.
We already lead the world in many ways, but two things for me rise above the rest in urgency and necessity — addressing climate change and reconciliation with Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. I want Ottawa to lead the way in a meaningful journey of reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples, and become a resilient community that is a beacon for a sustainable future.
Lastly, I hope that the 150 people on this list inspire all of us to get more motivated and engaged. I encourage you to act on whatever drives you, in whatever way you can — it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. I am constantly awestruck by the quiet leadership of our community — the volunteers, the advocates, the community builders. I hope we continue working together to create a better, more compassionate, sustainable Ottawa.