THUNDER BAY – Chantelle Bryson says she’s tried to stay out of politics, but her belief that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has launched an all-out attack on Canada’s democratic institutions convinced her it was time to take a stand.
On Tuesday night she was officially nominated as the NDP candidate in Thunder Bay-Superior North and will take on Liberal Health Minister Patty Hajdu in the next federal election, widely expected in the fall.
Bryson, a lawyer and activist, said decisions and policies of the Trudeau Liberals, including kicking outspoken MPs Jodi Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott out of caucus, taking the speaker of the House to court and betraying Indigenous children and their communities, made it clear a new vision is needed in Ottawa.
Still, it took a lot of soul-searching before Bryson committed to run.
“I was afraid I would become Patty Hajdu and be a puppet of Justin Trudeau who can’t speak freely, who can’t stand up for the riding,” Bryson said on Tuesday night, shortly after accepting the nomination, noting the final push was watching former MP Mumilaq Qaqqaq do her farewell speech in the House of Commons.
“I wouldn’t do it if my voice was going to be silenced. Yesterday, last night and this morning I had the opportunity to meet in person with (NDP Leader) Jagmeet (Singh) and that further solidified my decision. He is a humble, hard-working, highly skilled and honourable man.”
Bryson said she senses a shift in the political winds adding that voters believe Singh is a man of integrity, someone who can get the job done for the entire country.
An improvement of Indigenous services is a top priority for the would-be politician.
“I have spent 25 years fighting for equality in public services for First Nation communities. This debate needs to end. The attempt to starve out communities on some dream of assimilation and these calls to close down these communities needs to end,” Bryson said.
“We are harming children with grossly underfunded housing, health care and education. It’s cruel and it needs to end.”
Broadband access and schools in the communities are the first places she’d start.
“When people have the tools they need and they’re healthy, they can prosper. And they will prosper,” Bryson said.
“Obviously there’s an immediate need for justice on the found children and the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls. These are the pre-eminent concerns for me. I think everyone in this community knows that’s what I stand for and what I’ve fought for, amongst my other very practical work for municipalities and doing seemingly mundane things like bylaws and contracts and procurement.”
In addition to Hajdu running for the Liberals, the Conservative Party of Canada last week announced Joshua Taylor, a health unit staffer, will take the reins for them in the next election.