#onpoli newsletter - Race, gender and politics – how this MPP lives her values

Revisiting some earlier episodes of our Ontario politics podcast
By Eric Bombicino - Published on Jul 16, 2019
Jill Andrew, NDP MPP for Toronto-St. Paul's, and Steve Paikin.



Hello #onpoli readers,

Summer is in full swing, and you know what that means.

It’s time to do some leisurely reading, or in our case, listening!

Kick back with your earbuds, maybe in a Muskoka chair overlooking a lake, with a favourite beverage that you may or may not have procured with a single dollar, and go back to one of our earlier #onpoli podcast episodes to hear Steve Paikin’s interview with Jill Andrew, the NDP MPP for Toronto-St. Paul’s.

If you’re the kind of cynic who believes politicians are robots programmed to talking points, this interview will give you a moment of pause.

It’s not every day that Steve says, “I sense a revolutionary spirit.”

Pulling punches

Jill Andrew isn’t your everyday kind of elected official.

“I feel like the revolution is me being able to be who I am,” she said. “Being a politician, you learn very quickly that there are certain facets of yourself that are appropriate for the job and others that aren’t. Behaviours that you may have to shift. Things you may want to speak out on that you can’t so freely speak out on.”

“I can’t imagine you pulling your punches for political reasons. Do you do that?”

Listen to what MPP Andrew has to say in response to Steve’s question.

Feeling compassion for bullies

There is so much in this wide-ranging conversation that is not typical for most interviews with politicians. For example, Andrew was particularly candid about being bullied as a child. Reflecting on being teased in school, she expressed compassion.

“I was bullied [mainly] by young Black girls. But you know, I say that with complete compassion.”

“As an adult, as an educator, I look back, and I see that they, too, were lost. And they, too, were probably the victims of internalized racism.”

These young girls, Andrew said, may have felt a decreased sense of value.

“And what do you do when you feel like you have no value? Sometimes we try different tactics to assert our power and control over others so we can feel valuable. And that's how I saw that.”

We covered a lot of ground in this interview including what it was like growing up as a visible minority, her definition of being queer, and what it was like the moment she stepped into Queen’s Park as an elected representative (spoiler alert: it’s emotional, for all the right reasons).

If you didn’t have a chance when we first released it in April, listen now.

Say what?

We asked, and you answered. In the last newsletter, I asked for your help in our important initiative to update Steve’s musical tastes to the modern era. This suggestion is from Tim Harrison on Twitter.

Brian Grenier echoed the Canadiana angle.

“Might I suggest something a bit irreverent and Canadian? There are two songs by the great Canadian group, The Arrogant Worms, that strike a chord in these trying times: "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate" and "Idiot Road."

And, Camile Paradis had a suggestion for our upcoming season, which will focus on the fall federal election.

“Could you address the electoral reform toward a proportional representation through a national citizen assembly? Also, could you speak about the separation of power between the Attorney General and the Minister of Justice?”

Thanks for the great questions, Camile.

In every episode of Season 3 of the #onpoli podcast, Steve and John Michael will be answering questions from you. So please write us at onpolitics@tvo.org with anything you’d like them to explain.

That’s all for this week!


#onpoli producer

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