Many people following Canadian politics know by now that the Honourable Dr. Jane Philpott has decided to run as an independent in the upcoming federal election.
Still a Member of Parliament for Markham-Stouffville, despite taking the high-road with the Liberal party, support for Philpott has not waned. In fact, it may have increased due mainly to her reputation in the community.
As someone who attended her official nomination under the Liberal party in November, I can tell you that the road head will not be an easy one. The support for Philpott will, however, likely make things a bit easier – and maybe even exciting.
At her new nomination announcement May 27 at Reesor’s Farm Market just south of Stouffville Rd. she spoke of the advantages to marching to your own drum.
Philpott stated quite matter-of-fact that she is “not down with federal politics” and “need(s) to persevere.” She described hyper partisan politics as a dysfunctional system where a disconnect festers.
This disconnect between parties is the main contributor to this dysfuntion, according to Philpott who wants to find the “voices, minds and creativity across all parties”.
She added that work needs to be done on democratic reform and that the current system is broken. “People want politicians who are authentic, accountable and willing to admit mistakes,” said Philpott.
She also said that she still feels that she can represent her community well and just “go for it!”
One of the issues Philpott will be going for include, Climate Change, which is also a huge priority for her former party and new friends in the Green party.
“Who better to build political will than independent voices who aren’t afraid of anybody?” Philpott asked the enthusiastic and cheering crowd. She then segued into Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, whom many thought she would join after leaving the Liberals.
Philpott says she intends to be May’s “ally and gift” for initiatives that will save this planet. On the existential threats of climate change, “you ask a farmer if they care about climate change and they’re gonna tell you it’s a serious problem,” she says.
“We have to keep feeding this planet and we’re not going to do it if the climate gets warmer and warmer,” said Philpott. Whether it be serious drought, floods or rainfalls, “all farmers in this room will admit that climate change is a problem,” she says.
It should be noted that Philpott kicked off her speech by acknowledging the First Nations who who originally inhabited the area…that is until the Reesor’s arrived, she quipped.
In all seriousness, however, Philpott stated that Indigenous “rights and (the) well being of indigenous peoples be respected.” Her role as Minister of Indigenous Services will likely influence her work as an independent Member of Parliament, should she get elected.
Philpott says she has enjoyed the last couple of months as an independent and that “white goes with everything.” She also says she welcomes not having to deal with political staffers or corporate lobbyists telling her how to vote or which direction to go in.
She wants her constituents to be the only people she has to answer to in solving some of the biggest problems of our time.
“I didn’t lose my voice. I found my voice,” says Philpott of being removed from the Liberal Caucus and becoming an independent in her current term.
“If we could build those solutions together, across party lines and say that this work is going to outlive this government, is going to be bought into by people across the political spectrum. Then we could really get stuff done,” said Philpott.
“Let’s cooperate. Let’s collaborate,” was the sentiment she ended her speech with.
This wasn’t before mentioning that women and mothers have been approaching her on the street, with one saying “I want to tell you about the impact your story has had on my daughter.”
The events of late that have seen Philpott swept up in a firestorm of political discord. Speaking up for something she believed while not being afraid to sacrifice her career would be the impacting part of her journey that this particular mom was referring to.
That and not “ever be(ing) afraid to stand up for what’s right,” said Philpott.
(Photo Credit: Martin Kwok)