I have been following Niki Ashton’s campaign for the NDP leadership since its inception. I became a member of the NDP shortly after hearing her message for social, economic, and environmental justice. She has supported justice and peace in the Middle East, wants to expand healthcare to cover mental health, dental care, and pharmaceuticals, and she wants to create a carbon-free economy, among a multitude of other progressive stances.
This is why when I finally got the opportunity to meet Niki Ashton at a fundraiser last night, I jumped at the opportunity. This being my first time at a political event, I did not know what to expect. There were around 100 people that showed up and crammed into a backyard in a London subdivision. The crowd was made up of a diverse group of people with a large contingent of Palestinian human rights activists who put on the event. There was also diversity of age, race, gender, economic status, and nationality.
If you have watched the debates, you will know the passion that Niki brings to the leadership race. This is multiplied tenfold when you get to meet her or hear her speak in person. Her policies are bold, her vision is clear, and she will stand up for what the people want.
She wants to fight inequality for everyone, not just a single group of people. I have seen through recent elections, particularly in the United States and the UK, that the right wins based on fear and pitting one group against another. They pit old verse the young, citizens against immigrants, white vs. POC, and middle class vs. those living in poverty. What Niki strives for is bringing those groups together and showing us all that we should not fear one another, but rather that we need to work towards the future that we all want, together.
Niki’s campaign slogan is “Building a Movement, Together”. The key is that the movement is not just about Niki, but about all of those who support her and rally around her. She does not do this for herself, but for all of those who wish to have a more just future. I began to see more and more as the night went on what this movement looks like. It is a movement built on diversity.
The idea of doing something together was apparent in the conversations people were having with each other. We were not there just to meet Niki. We were there to meet one another and talk about what we see as a future for Canada, and how to accomplish it.
Near the end of the night, there was a Q and A where questions were asked about postal banking, how Niki would appoint a cabinet, and how she will incentivize local businesses to move from creating machines of war to creating machines for renewable energy.
During the Q and A, I commented on how it appears that the leadership debates center so heavily on pipelines. I asked what her campaign will do for the environment besides only stopping pipelines. I commented that pipelines are an obvious enemy of the environment. She stated that it is actually an improvement that we are talking about stopping the construction of pipelines. She praised Peter Julian for pushing for the reduction and elimination of pipelines. She praised him for putting pipelines as a frontline issue. This has not always been the case. In fact, there are many who do not see how damaging pipelines can be.
We are now down to only one candidate who is pushing for a radical reduction in pipelines. We have seen how timid Jagmeet Singh is regarding pipelines. Pipelines are the starting line, but there is so much more. I guess for now, while I wish more was said about consumption and waste, pipelines will have to do.
The most moving moment of the night was when Tarek Loubani gave a speech, which he called a love letter to his parents. In the speech, Tarek said that we should fight “Not because [we] hate something, but because [we] love something” and he recited part of a poem that his father told him,
And if one day the people choose life,
there is no doubt that fate will intercede,
there is no doubt that the darkness will lift,
and there is no doubt that the chains will break.
We need to work together to create the life that we desire. Niki is ready to lead the NDP and all of us towards social, economic, and environmental justice. Are you ready to fight alongside her?
If you wish to learn more about Niki Ashton’s campaign you can do so at her website which can be found here.
The next NDP debate will be in Saskatoon on July 11.