Liberal McGill held a networking event at Brutopia Pub on Jan. 15 as part of Liberal Member of Parliament Bardish Chagger’s campaign. After introductions, Chagger held an open discussion on her vision for the Liberal Party in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election in October.
Anushay Sheikh, director of Liberal McGill, introduced Chagger, emphasizing how her experiences prior to her role as Leader of the Government in the House of Commons in 2018 had prepared her for work at the federal level.
“Ms. Chagger is devoted to inclusion and community building,” Sheikh said. “In her role at Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, she worked to foster diversity within the community, providing opportunities for social and economic engagement. As the executive assistant to former [Member of Parliament] Andrew Telegdi, she gained a deep understanding of the issues that are important to the residents of Waterloo, including manufacturing, technology, and innovation.”
Chagger began her 30-minute informal conversation by drawing parallels between her early academic career and current work in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet. She has found the government’s commitment to progress inspiring.
“Trudeau says that ‘better is always possible,’” Chagger said. “When I was in school, math was my strongest subject. And I remember, in grade 11 math, I came home with a 98, and my dad was like ‘where’s the two per cent?’ So, when [Prime Minister] Justin Trudeau says ‘better is always possible,’ I’m like ‘yeah, my dad agrees, […] so, I’ve continued fighting for that little bit more.”
As Minister of Small Business and Tourism from 2015 to 2018, Chagger was one of three ministers responsible for the department of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development until a cabinet reshuffle in July 2018. She currently serves as Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, and is responsible for planning and managing the government’s legislative program.
Chagger defined her vision of the Liberal Party as a party that continually seeks to refine and improve its mandate. She finds that Trudeau’s leadership is essential to the success of this mandate and expressed pride in her party’s history of advocacy, including long-standing advocacy for same-sex marriage, support for the legalization of marijuana, the development of a carbon-tax policy, and continued argument for regulations allowing physician-assisted death.
Chagger doesn’t see progress as a competitive game, emphasizing the role of international cooperation for Canada. She values free trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for promoting an environment where all parties benefit from a globalized economy.
Giovanni Giuga, a second-year Master’s student at McGill who volunteered on Chagger’s 2015 campaign, described working for her in an interview with The McGill Tribune.
“Just from having a conversation with her, you can tell she’s passionate about what she wants to do,” Giuga said. “She’s done some amazing things with her efforts in community development and improving the Waterloo community [….] I could talk for days [about] how she’s done that prior to her role, and the strides she’s made in that realm are absolutely amazing. She [also] makes all her volunteers passionate not just about politics, but about the political process itself.