Toronto Centre Federal NDP Candidate

Standing up for what is right is a part of who I am. My mother tells the story of my decision to become a vegetarian at a young age and persuading the rest of my family to join me. I learned that I had the ability to shape my family and community for the better through example, persuasion, sometimes exhortation, and always persistence—and I haven’t looked back.

As a young student, I joined the Sierra Youth Coalition and led the development of a sustainable campus plan for McMaster University. I represented Canadian youth at the UN Commission for Sustainable Development, and attended the climate negotiations COP11 in Montreal. And of course, I joined the NDP!

When I started my medical studies. I began to make the link between planetary health and human health, and found like-minded colleagues at CAPE, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment—where I am now President Elect. At CAPE, we led campaigns to ban coal fired power plants in Ontario and we ensured corporate interests did not interfere with the 2019 Canada food guide. At CAPE, we target specific policy goals, leverage the influence of our members, and don’t take no for an answer!

After I completed my medical training, I worked in inner city Hamilton, in Sioux Lookout, and in Whitehorse, and at Seaton House in Toronto before starting my own practice in Regent Park. It became clear to me quickly that my second act as an activist would be against the legislated poverty crisis that is a national shame.

As Chair of Health Providers Against Poverty, I called out the City of Toronto for its inhumane shelter and drop-in conditions, and successfully advocated for the introduction of new standards for 24-hour respite sites across the City. I also advocated for increased social assistance rates, and investment in social and supportive housing.

As the success of these advocacy organizations grew, so did the diversity of participants. No longer was my organizing only of physicians and health care workers, but people from all walks of life. In 2021, I reached out to climate groups across the province to form the Ontario Climate Emergency campaign, which united labour organizations, non-profits, community and faith organizations, and businesses together to call for urgent climate action in Ontario. With the strength of representing more than 800,000 Ontarians, we have relentlessly challenged Doug Ford for his dirty policies, and forced opposition parties in Ontario to become bolder in their calls for climate action.

I’m indebted to learning from many talented people along the way. I studied with Marshall Ganz, partnered with ACORN, wrote op-eds with Danielle Martin and Jane Philpott. Cathy Crowe has been an inspiration both as a clinician and organizer. And so many people with lived experience have guided me in ways I didn’t know I needed. I’ve been tremendously fortunate to have gained the ability and had the opportunity to continue to shape my community for the better. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve been called relentless in my advocacy work. I hope so. I feel humbled by the challenges ahead. This year particularly, peace in Palestine and Israel feels so far away when even in Canada the suggestion of solidarity with the suffering of innocent people is condemned.

As I reflect on how I got here, I still marvel that I am very much at the beginning of the work that I hope will define my legacy. I am running to become the MP for Toronto Centre and to take my relentless energy to Ottawa. Like all that I have done so far, I promise to be strategic in approach and uncompromising on principles.

In hope and solidarity,