Aisha Jahangir has emerged as the New Democratic candidate for the riding of Guelph in this fall’s Federal Election. In all, 75 members of the local electoral district association endorsed the nurse and labour leader over her competition, Andy McCann-Pappin, a long-time activist and NDP campaigner in Guelph. Now the roster is complete for the five major party candidates for Guelph.
Jahangir thanked her two primary volunteers for assisting her in the successful campaign, and she recognised McCann-Pappin for this years of service to his local NDP. “I promise I won’t disappoint you,” she said to the membership.
EDA President Tim Matthieson thanked the membership for being patient as they conducted the search process for a candidate, and said it was “worth the wait.”
According to Mattieson, McCann-Pappin and Jahangir represented the best of NDP idealism on healthcare, workers rights, pharmacare, and the environment. On that last part, Mattieson reminded local NDP that this past week saw the Conservatives announced a highly criticized environmental plan, while the Liberal government approved both a climate emergency and the Trans Mountain Pipeline in the space of 24 hours.
“We all know as New Democrats that this is nothing new, it’s just Justin Trudeau following the age old Liberal tradition of progressive ideas, and progressive policies, and turning around and acting like Conservatives,” he said.
Two Candidates, One Message
McCann-Pappin and Jahangir both played to their strengths as candidates.
McCann-Pappin talked about how he spent much of his adult life living a cycle of precarious work whether that was in factories, offices, or restaurants. “I’ve felt a depression that comes from knowing that because my job is not secure enough, I didn’t have the ability to buy my own home, or start a life of my own,” he said.
“But fortunately, I also know the joy of escaping this cycle and start my own career,” he added. “I am running now because I am saddened to see people continue the struggle I went through, to look for non-existent affordable housing, and I’m saddened to see people graduate from post-secondary institutions knowing that they may be unable to find their own home, and struggle through short-term contracts and predatory loan agencies.
Before she spoke, one of Jahangir’s nominators, Upper Grand District School Board trustee Mike Foley, said that he was behind Jahangir because she hit “all the NDP benchmarks.”
“She, and she alone, has her fingers on the pulse of cultural diversity between these two candidates” Foley said, “Having a lock on four languages and being a woman of colour makes Aisha indispensable with her ability to reach out to a culture that has been unavailable to any party due to language or culture.
“Aisha is our bridge to diversity, which has been sorely lacking in our political spectrum,” he added.
“As a nurse, everyday I’ve face the shortages of beds, services and funding that exists in our healthcare system,” she explained. “I will no longer make excuses, and nor will I apologize. I refuse to stand on the sidelines. What we need right now is political courage.”
Like McCann-Pappin, Jahangir told the NDP members that she’s seen first-hand what ills modern society. “I have witnessed the direct impact that inequality has on the overwhelming wellbeing in our community, and addressing that core issue is a fight for social justice,” she said.
“Lots of work, lots of hard work,” Jahangir said to the media after the nomination meeting had concluded. She also said that she will be bringing together the NDP team that will help steer her campaign in the weeks to come. “I’m a bit overwhelmed right now,” she added.
Also overwhelming is the idea that with five candidates announced so far, Jahangir is the first woman. “I think I’ve got an edge, right?” she said with laugh, but Jahangir is thinking more about her other qualifications.
“I think the fact that I come with a healthcare background is more advantageous than the fact that I’m female,” she said. “I’m going to bring the social movement together, and fight for social justice, and equality.”
Speaking of equality, the polls show that the NDP candidate is going to have a tough hill to climb if she’s going to be competitive in this riding. Polls put the NDP behind the Liberals and Greens, who have been in a statistical dead heat for first place, and the Conservatives, so is there a path to victory?
“It’s definitely not impossible,” Jahangir said, “and I honestly believe that if we work all together, and we work hard, we can make it happen.”
“We have to get started, we’re the last ones to make the announcement of our candidacy, and there’s a lot of work that we need to do,” she added.
Jahangir rounds out the ballot of major party candidates including incumbent Lloyd Longfield for the Liberal Party, Steve Dyck for the Green Party, Dr. Ashish Sachan for the Conservative Party, and Mark Paralovos for the People’s Party.
Election Day is October 21.