Transcript: Cheri DiNovo's Radically Honest Tale | May 18, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted gray tie.

A caption on screen reads "A former MPP's radically honest tale. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says I'VE BEEN WATCHING EVENTS AT QUEEN'S PARK FOR ALMOST FOUR DECADES, AND I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE ONTARIO LEGISLATURE LIKE CHERI DiNOVO. SHE REPRESENTED PARKDALE-HIGH PARK FROM 2006 TO 2017, BUT THE LIFE SHE EXPERIENCED BEFORE SHE GOT INTO POLITICS WAS PLAIN AND SIMPLY ASTONISHING. SHE CHRONICLES IT ALL IN A NEW MEMOIR. IT'S CALLED "THE QUEER EVANGELIST: A SOCIALIST CLERGY'S RADICALLY HONEST TALE." AND CHERI DiNOVO JOINS US NOW FROM PARKDALE, IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL...

Cheri is in her sixties, with short blond hair. She's wearing a black shirt with a clerical collar.
A picture of her book appears briefly on screen. The cover is yellow, with a title in hues of pink and black cut out from a picture of a march.

Steve continues SO GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN. HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Cheri says I'M FINE, STEVE. IT'S WONDERFUL TO SEE YOU AGAIN AS WELL.

Steve says WELL, LET'S START WITH THAT INTRODUCTION I GAVE. YOU'VE OBVIOUSLY MET HUNDREDS OF POLITICIANS IN YOUR TIME AS WELL. CAN YOU THINK OF ANYONE WHO COMES REMOTELY CLOSE TO THE BACKGROUND YOU BROUGHT INTO POLITICS?

The caption changes to "Cheri DiNovo. Author, 'The queer evangelist.'"

Cheri says SO THERE PROBABLY ARE. BUT I THINK WHAT'S UNUSUAL ABOUT THIS BOOK PERHAPS IS THE FACT THAT I TOLD PEOPLE ABOUT IT. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, WE'RE VERY USED TO IN POLITICS GIVING ONE VERSION OF OURSELVES TO THE PUBLIC AND ANOTHER TO EVERYONE WHO KNOWS US IN PRIVATE, AND I TRIED NOT TO DO THAT IN THIS BOOK.

Steve says WELL, OKAY. THAT'S A FAIR POINT. BUT I'M GOING TO JUST DO A LITTLE FACT-CHECKING WITH YOU HERE. BECAUSE I DON'T THINK ANYBODY HAS HAD THIS KIND OF BACKGROUND. FOR EXAMPLE, WHEN YOU WERE A KID, YOU WRITE THAT YOU CAME HOME ONE DAY TO SEE YOUR MOTHER'S LOVER PICK UP A KNIFE AND SLASH YOUR AUNT ACROSS THE THROAT. YOU SAW A MAN IN HIS BED WITH HIS HEAD BLOWN OFF BY A SHOTGUN. CHERI, WHAT KIND OF CHILDHOOD DID YOU HAVE, EXACTLY?

The caption changes to "A unique background."

Cheri says WELL, AN INCREDIBLY TRAUMATIC ONE, OBVIOUSLY. AND I THINK, LIKE A NUMBER OF QUEER KIDS BEFORE ME, YOU KNOW, IT WASN'T EASY, FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS, AND IT WAS THE REASON WHY I LEFT HOME WHEN I WAS ABOUT 15 YEARS OLD AND FOUND THE STREETS A SAFER PLACE THAN BEING IN MY OWN HOUSE. AND THAT IS THE STORY OF A LOT OF QUEER KIDS EVEN TODAY AND A LOT OF KIDS THAT EXPERIENCE TRAUMA. I MEAN, BACK THEN, WE DIDN'T KNOW THE WORDS POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, BUT NOW WE DO, AND THAT'S CLEARLY WHAT I WAS SUFFERING FROM AT THE TIME. YES, ON THE SURFACE IT WAS A NORMAL HOUSEHOLD; AND THEN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, IT WAS ANYTHING BUT.

Steve says GIVEN EVERYTHING YOU WENT THROUGH, HOW IS IT THAT YOU TURNED OUT SO PUT-TOGETHER?

Cheri says WELL, DEBATABLE, I GUESS, STEVE. BECAUSE I HAD TO? IS A VERY SIMPLE ANSWER. AGAIN, I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED TRAUMA AND GONE THROUGH IT AND COME OUT THE OTHER SIDE HAVE HAD TO DO A LOT OF WORK AND I'VE DONE THAT WORK. YOU KNOW, WE DEVELOP COMPASSION OR WE DO NOT SURVIVE. WE DEVELOP COMPASSION FOR OURSELVES OR WE DO NOT SURVIVE. AND THAT'S THE SIMPLE REALITY OF BEING A CHILD OF A TRAUMATIC BACKGROUND. AND, AGAIN, I KNOW THAT I'M SPEAKING TO A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE SURVIVED TRAUMA OUT THERE WHO ARE LISTENING TO THIS BROADCAST. SO THEY WILL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.

Steve says HERE'S AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Not of this world." The quote reads "Men, I was always taught, were a distraction or a luxury, never essential in our homes. I was also to understand this made us not 'of this world' – the world of bourgeois convention. Their world would always find us strange. The women who were my role models would have lovers, husbands, and sometimes both at the same time. I was raised in a polyandrous household with two dads. Being queer, being sexually different, wasn't so very queer on Bedford Road."
Quoted from Cheri DiNovo. "The queer evangelist." 2021.

Steve says WHICH, FOR THOSE WHO LIVE OUTSIDE TORONTO, IS A SPOT IN DOWNTOWN TORONTO. TELL US ABOUT... I MEAN, YOU DO GO INTO DETAIL HERE ABOUT COMING HOME FROM SCHOOL EVERY DAY AND HAVING BOYS YELL AT YOU DIKE OR LESBO OR THAT KIND OF THING. YOU CLEARLY HAD AN UNCONVENTIONAL CHILDHOOD. WERE YOU DEPRESSED AND MISERABLE THROUGHOUT IT?

The caption changes to "Cheri DiNovo, @cheridinovo."

Cheri says NOT AT ALL. AND NOT, YOU KNOW, UNCONVENTIONAL IN TERMS OF QUEER KIDS. I MEAN, BACK THEN I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW... WHEN BOYS WOULD CHASE ME HOME FROM SCHOOL, I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT DIKE MEANT. I JUST KNEW IT WAS SOMETHING NEGATIVE. AND REALLY LOOKING BACK AT THE LITTLE GIRL, I KIND OF JUST LOOKED LIKE A LITTLE GIRL, YOU KNOW, I HAD SHORT HAIR OR LONG HAIR, WHATEVER, BUT IT WAS CLEARLY A PEJORATIVE AND I LEARNED WHAT THAT PEJORATIVE MEANT, OF COURSE, MUCH LATER. BUT AGAIN I JUST WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT MY BACKGROUND SOUNDS STARK, BUT IT'S NOT AN UNUSUAL BACKGROUND FOR A QUEER KID. THIS IS WHAT A LOT OF QUEER CHILDREN EXPERIENCE IN SCHOOL, AND THEY EXPERIENCE IT BEFORE THEY EVEN UNDERSTAND WHO THEY ARE OR WHAT IT ALL MEANS. SO THERE WERE LOTS OF HAPPY TIMES IN MY CHILDHOOD TOO, AND I DON'T WANT TO DISMISS THAT. BUT I DO WANT TO TELL THE TRUTH. AND I DID WANT TO TELL THE TRUTH IN THIS BOOK BECAUSE I THINK THE TRUTH SETS YOU FREE AND I THINK IT ALSO GIVES HOPE TO CHILDREN WHO ARE GOING THROUGH THAT RIGHT NOW.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says WELL, IS THAT A PICTURE OF YOU BEHIND YOU THAT I'M SEEING RIGHT NOW? BECAUSE YOU LOOK KIND OF HAPPY IN THAT SHOT.

Behind Cheri appears a black and white picture of a march, the same seen on the cover of her book.

Cheri says IT IS. THAT'S A PICTURE BEHIND ME AT TORONTO'S VERY FIRST PRIDE EVENT. AS YOU CAN SEE I'VE AGED INTO BLOND. AND THAT WAS ME WITH MY GIRLFRIEND BACK THEN IN 1971. SO TORONTO'S FIRST HAPPY PRIDE EVENT. THAT WAS TAKEN ON HANLON'S POINT. THERE'S A COUPLE OF LUMINARIES BEHIND ME, I THINK JAMES IS OVER ONE SHOULDER THERE TOO. BUT AT ANY RATE THAT'S ALSO THE COVER OF THE BOOK SO, YEAH.

Steve says OKAY. CHERI, DON'T TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY BUT YOUR LAST NAME IS DiNOVO BUT YOU JUST DO NOT PRESENT IN A VERY ITALIAN WAY. WHY IS THAT?

Cheri says OKAY. SO MY FATHER WAS BORN IN TORONTO. HIS FAMILY CAME OVER AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY FROM SICILY. AND MY MOTHER'S FAMILY CAME OVER NOT LONG AFTER FROM ENGLAND. I WAS RAISED ACTUALLY IN A PRETTY ENGLISH HOUSEHOLD. MY DAD DID NOT EVEN SPEAK ITALIAN. CERTAINLY IN THOSE DAYS, THE IDEA OF MOVING TO CANADA WAS THAT YOU LOST YOUR LANGUAGE, THAT YOU, IN A SENSE, DENIED YOUR CULTURE AND YOU TRIED TO FIT IN WITH THE MAJORITY. SO I WAS RAISED REALLY IN A MATRIARCHAL FAMILY, AS I SAID IN THE BOOK. MY GRANDMOTHER ORIGINALLY OWNED THE HOUSE WE HAD ON BEDFORD ROAD, RAN IT AS A ROOMING HOUSE. SHE WAS FROM ENGLAND. SHE WAS FIRST GENERATION HERE. SO IT WAS KIND OF AN INTERESTING HOUSEHOLD IN THAT SENSE. I DO HAVE ITALIAN RELATIVES THAT MADE IT AN ISSUE TO MAINTAIN THE LANGUAGE OR TO LEARN THEIR LANGUAGE. BUT THAT WASN'T THE GENERAL RULE BACK THEN IN TORONTO OR, QUITE FRANKLY, IN CANADA GENERALLY. YOU KIND OF, YOU KNOW, TRIED TO FIT IN. AND FITTING IN MEANT BECOMING AS WASP AS YOU COULD.

[SPEAKING IN ITALIAN]

Cheri says YES, SI.

Steve says I WANT TO DO ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK HERE. OH, MY GOODNESS, THIS ONE IS STARK. YOU WRITE...

Another quote from Cheri's book appears on screen, under the title "Drugs and God." The quote reads "I fed myself by selling LSD, at the time under the Food and Drug Act not criminalized, that was imported from California in hollowed-out Bibles. Yes, I get the irony."

Steve says THAT'S A GREAT LINE, CHERI. YOU ARE VERY CANDID ABOUT THE DRUGS THAT YOU USED BACK IN THE DAY. YOU DROPPED OUT OF SCHOOL AFTER GRADE 10. YOU USED TO GO DAYS WITHOUT EATING OR SLEEPING. YOU WERE LIVING IN THE STREETS. YOU WERE TAKING DRUGS. SERIOUS QUESTION HERE: HOW COME YOU AREN'T DEAD?

Cheri says WELL, MANY OF THE FOLKS THAT I KNEW BACK THEN ARE DEAD, SADLY, AND THEN THERE ARE A FEW THAT ARE REALLY GOOD FRIENDS THAT SURVIVED AND THRIVED ON NOT A LOT. TO BE A QUEER KID ON THE STREETS OF TORONTO, NOW AS THEN, IS A DANGEROUS PLACE TO BE. THERE'S NOT A LOT OF THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE A LIVING. THAT'S WHY MOST OF THE FOLK I KNEW WERE INVOLVED IN THE DRUG TRADE. AGAIN, YOU KNOW, HOW DO YOU LIVE? I MEAN, YOU SLEEP ROUGH. YOU KNOW, IF YOU CAN, YOU FIND A COUCH. IF YOU CAN, YOU ALL PILE INTO A BACHELOR APARTMENT SOMEWHERE. IF YOU CAN, YOU SLEEP, BECAUSE THE WEATHER'S NICE, OUTSIDE. IN FACT, I USED TO TELL THE STORY AT QUEEN'S PARK THAT I WAS IN AN OFFICE AT QUEEN'S PARK OVERLOOKING WHERE I USED TO SLEEP WHICH WAS IN QUEEN'S PARK. SO THAT IS A BIT OF AN UNUSUAL BACKGROUND FOR A MEMBER OF PROVINCIAL PARLIAMENT. I HAVE TO SAY I NEVER HID THAT STORY OF DRUG USE AND DRUG ABUSE, NEVER. IT WAS USED AGAINST ME IN MY FIRST RUN FOR OFFICE, AND THAT WAS A SAD... SAD REALITY BECAUSE, QUITE FRANKLY, THOSE IN MY CHURCH WHO HAD MENTAL HEALTH OR ADDICTION ISSUES, THEY SAW SURVIVING THE STREETS AS A MESSAGE OF HOPE. AND I HOPE THE PEOPLE THAT READ THIS BOOK SEE IT AS A MESSAGE OF HOPE AS WELL.

Steve says NO, I THINK IT BACKFIRED AGAINST THE PEOPLE WHO USED IT BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY YOU WON.

Cheri says I DID. AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. YEAH.

Steve says YES, YOU DID. ALL RIGHT. ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK HERE BECAUSE, EVENTUALLY YOU DID A VERY CONVENTIONAL THING. YOU GOT MARRIED. YOU GOT MARRIED TO A GUY NAMED DON AND YOU HAD TWO KIDS WITH DON AND HERE'S ANOTHER QUOTE FROM THE BOOK.

Another quote from Cheri's book appears on screen, under the title "The joys of parenthood." The quote reads "By that point in my life I'd been traumatized, addicted, raped, and homeless on the streets, but nothing prepared me for the horrors of parenting a colicky infant. 'Horrors' is not an exaggeration."

Steve says REALLY?

Cheri says UH, YEAH. AND AGAIN I'M GOING TO SPEAK... YOU KNOW, THIS IS NOT A HALLMARK CARD. THIS IS AN EXPERIENCE OF MOTHERHOOD THAT WILL RING WITH MANY WOMEN OUT THERE, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION, WHICH AGAIN IS NOT A TERM THAT WAS USED VERY MUCH IN THOSE DAYS. WHEN YOU HAVE AN INFANT WHO IS CRYING, DOES NOT SLEEP, AND YOU GO DAY IN, DAY OUT LIKE THAT, THAT IS A KIND OF TORTURE. AND IN MY PARTICULAR HOUSEHOLD, THERE WASN'T A LOT OF HELP. WE DIDN'T HAVE IN-LAWS AROUND. MY HUSBAND, THE KIDS' DAD, DON AT THE TIME, HIS PARENTS WERE IN CHICAGO. MINE WERE DEAD. THERE WASN'T HELP. AND I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT OF COURSE IT REALLY SHATTERS ANY KIND OF MENTAL HEALTH THAT YOU HAVE. AND PARTICULARLY BECAUSE YOU LOVE THE CHILD, RIGHT? AND SO I DIDN'T SLEEP FOR MONTHS AT A TIME. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. AND NOW, OF COURSE, THERE'S HELP. THERE'S MORE HELP. BUT AT THE TIME THERE WASN'T. I WAS VERY ISOLATED, FELT VERY ALONE, AND OF COURSE PRETTY TRAUMATIZED. NOW, OF COURSE I'M KIND OF EXAGGERATING THERE. BUT, I MEAN, BUT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU'RE LIVING THROUGH T IT'S NOT AN EXAGGERATION. AGAIN, I HOPE THIS GIVES HOPE TO WOMEN WHO ARE EXPERIENCING THAT RIGHT NOW. THERE ARE FEW THINGS WORSE IN THIS WORLD THAN POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION. THERE ARE FEW THINGS WORSE THAN HAVING A CHILD WITH ISSUES THAT DOES NOT SLEEP AND CRIES AND THERE'S NO COMFORT. SO YOU KNOW WHO I'M SPEAKING TO OUT THERE. AND, AGAIN, I HOPE THIS BOOK SHOWS THAT YOU CAN SURVIVE THAT. BY THE WAY, SHE IS AN ADULT NOW. SHE IS WONDERFUL. SHE IS ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS IN THE WORLD. AND THAT PASSED.

Steve says AND SHE OWES YOU BIGTIME.

Cheri says YES.

Steve says THAT'S NICE. CHERI, AS IF ALL THE THINGS YOU'VE BEEN TELLING US AREN'T ENOUGH, YOUR HUSBAND DON WAS KILLED IN A MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT AND YOUR KIDS WERE ONLY 14 AND 9 WHEN THAT HAPPENED. HOW IN HEAVEN'S NAME DID YOU GET THROUGH ALL OF THAT?

Cheri says AGAIN, I'M NOT ALONE IN SURVIVING THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE AND CERTAINLY MY CHILDREN ARE NOT ALONE IN SURVIVING THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE. I REALLY WOULD LIKE TO GIVE A SHOUTOUT TO BEREAVED FAMILIES OF ONTARIO BECAUSE WE FINALLY FOUND HELP WITH THEM. IT'S A WONDERFUL NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, AND THEY PROVIDE THE KIND OF COUNSELLING THAT MY SON REALLY NEEDED AND RECEIVED. AND THAT WE REALLY NEEDED. WHILE HE WAS GETTING HIS COUNSELLING, I WAS MEETING WITH OTHERS LIKE MYSELF WHO LOST THEIR SPOUSE. DON WAS MY BEST FRIEND. HE WAS A WONDERFUL FATHER. SO, OF COURSE, IT WAS, YES, TRAUMATIC. BUT WE'RE HERE. WE'RE ALL SURVIVORS. AND AS SO MANY ARE. BUT, AGAIN, I HOPE THE BOOK SHOWS FOLK HOW TO NAVIGATE THAT, BECAUSE YOU CAN.

Steve says IT DEFINITELY DOES DO THAT. BUT AT SOME POINT I PRESUME YOU HAD TO HAVE SAID TO YOURSELF, YOU KNOW, MAYBE LOOKING UPWARD AT THE HEAVENS, I MEAN, GOD, ENOUGH ALREADY. I'VE BEEN THROUGH IT. YES, YOU TELL US YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH THINGS THAT OTHER PEOPLE HAVE BEEN THROUGH TOO, BUT MY GOODNESS, WHAT A LOAD YOU'VE HAD, CHERI.

Cheri says I SUPPOSE, YES. I MEAN, I PREFER TO KIND OF LOOK AT THE JOY OF HAVING TWO CHILDREN, THE INCREDIBLE HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE OF BEING ABLE TO HAVE SERVED AT QUEEN'S PARK FOR AS LONG AS I DID, FOR THE... YOU KNOW, FOR THE BILLS THAT I GOT PASSED INTO LAW THAT HAVE CHANGED LIVES. AND, AGAIN, LIVES OF PEOPLE WHO WERE MARGINALIZED AND ARE MARGINALIZED TOO. SO I HAVE SO MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR AND SO MUCH TO BE GRATEFUL FOR. AND, YES, OF COURSE ITS7è ALSO K ME INTO CHURCH. IT ALSO GOT ME SEEKING AND, YOU KNOW, EXPLORING SPIRITUALITY BECAUSE I NEEDED SUPPORT, AND THAT ALSO IS A BLESSING. AND THAT I'M ALSO GRATEFUL FOR. SO WHATEVER TOOK ME TO THE POINTS THAT I REACHED AND WHATEVER HAS BROUGHT ME HERE, STEVE, YOU KNOW, THERE'S NOTHING BUT A BIG THANK YOU IN ALL OF THAT FROM ME.

Steve says OKAY. SINCE YOU MENTION POLITICS, LET'S GO THERE NEXT. BECAUSE... HERE'S ONE THING I'M REALLY TRYING TO FIGURE OUT. YOU KNOW THAT WHEN PARTIES GO OUT AND LOOK FOR CANDIDATES OR WHEN POTENTIAL CANDIDATES COME FORWARD AND APPROACH PARTIES, YOU KNOW, THE FIRST THING BOTH SIDES PRESUMABLY WANT, OR I GUESS TRADITIONALLY WANT, THE PARTIES WANT THOSE POTENTIAL CANDIDATES TO BE AS MILQUETOAST IN THEIR BACKGROUND AS POSSIBLE. THEY WANT THE WIFE, THE TWO SMILING KIDS, THE DOG, THE PICKET FENCE, THE WHOLE THING. THAT'S NOT YOU. I'M TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW YOU AND THE NDP GOT TOGETHER IN A WAY WHERE SOMEBODY SAID, IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, YES, WE THINK YOU CAN BE A GREAT MPP AND WIN?

The caption changes to "A time for politics."

Cheri says WELL, PARTLY THEY PROBABLY JUST DIDN'T DO THEIR RESEARCH VERY WELL, RIGHT?
[LAUGHTER]
I NEVER FIT IN ANYTHING. IN MY FIRST QUEER EVANGELISM I TALK ABOUT MY BACKGROUND A BIT AS WELL. BUT ALSO PARTIES WANT SOMEONE WHO ALREADY HAS A PROFILE IN THAT COMMUNITY, AND QUITE FRANKLY, THAT'S WHY THE NDP CAME LOOKING FOR ME BECAUSE AT THAT POINT I HAD PERFORMED CANADA'S FIRST LEGALIZED SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND GOT QUITE A BIT OF PUBLICITY. I ALSO WAS THE MINISTER IN A CHURCH THAT HAD GROWN SUBSTANTIALLY AND THAT WAS WELL-KNOWN IN THE AREA FOR DEALING WITH PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF. HAVING AN EVENING SERVICE OF FOLK THAT HAD MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION ISSUES AND WHERE THEY WERE WELCOMED INTO THE PEWS JUST AS THEY WERE. SO THAT GAVE ME A PROFILE IN THE COMMUNITY AND THAT'S WHY THE NDP CAME LOOKING FOR ME, BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT I COULD WIN, VERY SIMPLY.

Steve says WELL, AND YOU DID. YOU ALSO WRITE SOME VERY CANDID THINGS IN THIS BOOK ABOUT YOUR TIME WITH THE NDP AND IN POLITICS, AND LET'S START WITH THIS. ALL LEGISLATURES, YOU TELL US, RUN ON A MIX OF FEAR AND SELF-IMPORTANCE THAT EVERY WORD SAID WHEN WE'RE ON OUR HIND LEGS IS OF NOTE. I GET THE SELF IMPORTANCE. WE RUN INTO THAT ALL THE TIME WITH POLITICIANS. BUT THE FEARFUL PART OF THE JOB. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

Cheri says CERTAINLY. FIRST OF ALL, THERE'S THE CONSTANT FEAR, AND YOU'RE REMINDED OF THIS, WILL YOU BE REELECTED? SO YOU'RE CONSTANTLY TRYING TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT... YOU KNOW, THAT THAT DOES HAPPEN, THAT YOU ARE REELECTED. AND ALSO OF COURSE WHEN YOU'RE STANDING ON YOUR HIND LEGS IN THE HOUSE, IT'S A PRETTY PUBLIC PLACE TO BE, AND WHAT COMES OUT OF YOUR MOUTH COUNTS. NOW, IT COUNTS LESS THAN YOU THINK IT DOES BECAUSE, QUITE FRANKLY, NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE TUNE IN TO CPAC AND WATCH THE DAY-BY-DAY OCCURRENCES AT QUEEN'S PARK OR ON THE HILL, FOR THAT MATTER. BUT IT'S NOT AN EASY THING TO STAND UP AND SPEAK, ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE BEING HECKLED AT EVERY SECOND WORD YOU SAY. AND SO THERE'S THAT. AND ALSO, OF COURSE, IF YOU DON'T HAVE A WHOLE MINISTRY BEHIND YOU, AS THOSE IN OPPOSITION DO NOT, YOU'RE DOING A LOT OF RESEARCH, YOU'RE DOING IT WITH YOUR STAFF, BUT YOU'RE ASKED TO SPEAK REALLY, YOU KNOW, WITHOUT A LOT OF BACKGROUND AND WORK, YOU KNOW, ON THE SPUR OF THE MOMENT SOMETIMES IN A WAY THAT NOT MOST PEOPLE ARE IN THEIR JOBS. SO THERE'S A LOT THAT MAKES IT A PRETTY, YOU KNOW, NAIL-BITING EXPERIENCE. AND THEN OF COURSE THERE'S THE PRESSURE FROM YOUR OWN PARTY. I MEAN, PUT ALL OF THAT TOGETHER AND IT'S NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.

Steve says I'M GOING TO PICK UP ON THE PRESSURE FROM YOUR OWN PARTY IN JUST A SECOND. I WILL COME BACK TO THAT. BUT I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY THAT THE NDP PRESENTS ITSELF AS A PARTY THAT IS... THAT IS LESSEN COUPLE BETTERED BY THINGS LIKE MALE DOMINATION OR HAVE LESS LGBTQ PERSONS INSIDE OF IT. I WANT TO KNOW FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE AFTER BEING IN THE PARTY FOR SO LONG WHETHER THAT IS TRUE?

Cheri says I DO THINK THAT IT'S TRUE BUT I DON'T THINK IT'S WITHOUT BIAS AND I DON'T THINK IT'S WITHOUT ELEMENTS OF A PATRIARCHY IN IT, AND I DO DOCUMENT THOSE IN MY BOOK. SO, YES. AND THIS IS SOMETHING THAT, YOU KNOW, EVERY QUEER MPP AND MLA AND EVERY FEMALE MPP OR MLA OR MP FOR THAT MATTER WORKS, YOU KNOW, AGAINST IN THEIR OWN PARTY. AND I SIMPLY TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT IT. I MEAN, I'VE TALKED TO OTHERS FROM OTHER PARTIES. WE ALL WRESTLE WITH THE SAME ISSUES. AND EVEN IN THE NDP, WHICH I THINK IS STILL THE LABOUR PARTY OF CANADA, WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, WHY I STILL VOTE NDP, BUT WE STILL HAVE THAT ISSUE AND WE HAVE IT IN THE LABOUR MOVEMENT TOO. SO I THINK TO DENY THAT WE HAVE IT IS UNREASONABLE AND IT'S NOT TRUTHFUL. SO I CHOSE TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES, ABSOLUTELY.

Steve says WELL, TRUTH-TELLING IS NOT WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE AND I WANT TO TAKE YOU BACK TO THE 2014 ELECTION. THE NDP WENT INTO THAT PROVINCIAL CAMPAIGN WITH 21 SEATS AND THEY EMERGED FROM IT WITH 21 SEATS AND WERE BASICALLY WIPED OUT IN THE CITY OF TORONTO WHICH OF COURSE IS YOUR HOME TURF, AND YOU MADE SOME VERY BLUNT POST MORTEM COMMENTS AND, SHELDON, IF YOU WOULD, LET'S BRING THIS UP AND HERE'S ONE OF THEM. THIS WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE AFTER THAT ELECTION.

Another quote from Cheri's book appears on screen under the title "Accusations and invectives." The quote reads "One day I was literally screamed at across a crowded cafeteria in the basement, in the presence of all sort of visitors, party folk of all stripes and employees. One of our bully boy Members yelled accusations and invectives in a public space. Mostly, I just avoided my own party and surrounded myself with people who wouldn't be abusive and with my own brave staff. My new policy was to record all conversations with leadership and to take my E.A. with me if at all possible. As a friend said, I'd have the basis for a lawsuit or charges but only if it became physical."

Steve says WE REMIND EVERYBODY, THIS IS TREATMENT FROM YOUR OWN PARTY. THIS IS YOUR OWN FOLKS. NOT PEOPLE YOU ARE RUNNING AGAINST. DO YOU THINK YOU DESERVED THAT KIND OF TREATMENT?

Cheri says ABSOLUTELY NOT. AND ALL I DID IS TO TELL THE TRUTH, AS I AM DOING WITH YOU NOW, STEVE, AND I TOLD THE TRUTH TO THE PRESS AND ALSO LISTENED TO THE RANK AND FILE OF MY OWN PARTY AND TOLD THEIR TRUTH AND LISTENED TO THE TRUTH OF THE ELECTORATE WHO ELECTED ME AND TOLD THEIR TRUTH TOO, WHICH IS WHAT I THINK WE'RE ALL ELECTED TO DO. SO AGAIN I'M NOT ALONE IN HAVING THIS EXPERIENCE. I MAY BE A LITTLE UNIQUE IN TELLING IT IN A BOOK. BUT CERTAINLY THIS IS THE EXPERIENCE THAT I'VE HEARD FROM OTHER PEOPLE IN ELECTED OFFICE IN ALL PARTIES. SO THE NDP IS NOT UNIQUE IN THAT. BUT WHAT I DID WAS I TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT A TERRIBLE ELECTION CAMPAIGN, AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN WHERE WE RAN TO THE CENTRE, AND OF COURSE, AS LIBERALS TEND TO DO, THEY RAN TO THE LEFT OF US, GOT ELECTED AND THEN, YOU KNOW, GOVERNED TO THE RIGHT OF US. BUT I TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT THAT. AND I SAID THAT THE ONLY REASON I WON THAT ELECTION... REMEMBER, THERE WERE ONLY TWO OF US THAT DID EITHER FEDERALLY OR PROVINCIALLY AFTER THAT DATE, WAS PETER TABUNS AND MYSELF.

Steve says THE 416.

Cheri says I ONLY WON BY 500 VOTES. AND THE WAY I WON THOSE 500 VOTES WAS TELLING PEOPLE AT THE DOOR THAT I WOULD TAKE THEIR CONCERNS ABOUT OUR PARTY AND ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN WE RAN TO THE PRESS AND TO THE PARTY, AND I DID. SO I HAVE NO REGRETS ABOUT IT WHATSOEVER. AND THAT'S THE SIMPLE REALITY THAT, AGAIN, IF FOLK TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE IN THEIR OWN CABINETS AND CAUCUSES, THEY WOULD TELL YOU. YEAH, I TOLD THE TRUTH IN PUBLIC, WHICH NORMALLY IS ONLY SUPPOSED TO BE TOLD AROUND THE CAUCUS TABLE.

Steve says WELL, THAT'S IT. AND LET ME PLAY DEVIL'S ADVOCATE IN HERE AND SAY... I MEAN, IT'S NOT CALLED THE CHERI DiNOVO PARTY, IT'S CALLED THE NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY, AND THERE'S AN EXPECTATION THAT PEOPLE LIKE YOU WILL, YOU KNOW, HOLD YOUR TRUTH A LITTLE CLOSER TO YOUR VEST AND BE GOOD TEAM PLAYERS. WHY DID YOU FIND THAT YOU COULDN'T DO THAT?

Cheri says I FOUND THAT I COULDN'T DO THAT BECAUSE, NUMBER ONE, IT WASN'T THE TRUTH. AND I THINK THAT... I MEAN, I'M SITTING HERE WITH A COLLAR ON FOR A REASON. I DON'T THINK I OWE MY TRUE ALLEGIANCE TO ANY PARTY. I WILL STAND BEFORE THE GOD OF MY LIFE, AS WE ALL WILL AND I HOPE THAT WE ALL DO, AND TELL THE TRUTH. I THINK, YOU KNOW, THAT PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR. IT WAS THE TRUTH, QUITE FRANKLY, OF THE MAJORITY OF THE PEOPLE, RANK AND FILE THAT I HEARD IN THE PARTY THAT WEREN'T BEING LISTENED TO, AND ALSO THOSE PEOPLE IN THE PUBLIC THAT WEREN'T BEING LISTENED TO. AND THE PEOPLE ON THE MARGINS THAT WEREN'T BEING LISTENED TO. AND I THINK THEIR VOICES ARE IMPORTANT. AND IT WAS ALSO THE TRUTH OF MY EXPERIENCE. AND I'M NOT GOING TO SAY THE EMPEROR'S GOT CLOTHES ON WHEN THE EMPEROR DOES NOT. AND I THINK IF WE ALL DID THIS IN ELECTED OFFICE, PEOPLE WOULD HAVE A LITTLE BIT HIGHER ESTEEM FOR POLITICIANS. I DON'T THINK PEOPLE LIKE, YOU KNOW, SO-CALLED PARTY HACKS. I THINK THEY LIKE PEOPLE WHO TELL, YOU KNOW, THE TRUTH AS THEY SEE IT AND AS THEY WERE TOLD TO TELL IT.L AND, AGAIN, I WAS ELECTED BY THOSE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR ME ONLY IF I TOLD THE TRUTH. SO I RUN FOR THEM. AND BY THE WAY, THEY'RE THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT CAN FIRE YOU. MY ADVICE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE IN ELECTED OFFICE IS, YOU KNOW WHAT? YOUR PARTY LEADERSHIP CANNOT FIRE YOU. THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO CAN ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ELECTED YOU. NOW, THEY CAN KICK YOU OUT AND YOU CAN SIT AS AN INDEPENDENT. ALL SORTS OF THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO MAKE YOUR LIFE LESS THAN HUNKY DORY IN YOUR JOB, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY WHO DO YOU REPRESENT THERE? YOU REPRESENT THE PEOPLE WHO SENT YOU. LISTEN TO THEM. AND OF COURSE LISTEN TO THE MARGINS, THE PEOPLE WHO REALLY NEED YOU TO BE THERE. AND I DON'T REGRET TELLING THE TRUTH ON BEHALF OF THOSE FOLK EVER.

Steve says LET'S DO A LITTLE MORE TRUTH-TELLING HERE. THERE'S GOING TO BE AN ELECTION IN JUNE 2022. CAN ANDREA HORWATH WIN THAT ELECTION?

Cheri says I HOPE SO. AGAIN, I THINK THE NDP IS THE BEST BET WE HAVE IN TERMS OF TAKING DOWN WHAT HAS BEEN A VERY, VERY DANGEROUS GOVERNMENT. WE ARE OF COURSE TALKING IN THE MIDST OF A THIRD WAVE OF THE PANDEMIC. SO WHAT DO WE NEED? YES, WE NEED AN ALTERNATIVE. AND I HOPE OF COURSE THAT THAT ALTERNATIVE COMES TO PASS. I ALSO HOPE THAT THOSE FOLK WHO ARE SITTING AROUND THE CAUCUS TABLE FEEL THAT THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE EXPERIENCING, AND I HOPE THAT THEY ALWAYS FEEL THAT THEY'VE GOT, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, THE ABILITY TO STAND ON PRINCIPLE, EVEN IF THAT MEANS SPEAKING OUT AGAINST LEADERSHIP. THIS GOES FOR ALL PARTIES, NOT JUST THE NDP. BUT CERTAINLY ABSOLUTELY WE NEED A CHANGE FROM OUR CURRENT ONTARIO GOVERNMENT. YES.

Steve says CHERI, IN OUR REMAINING MOMENTS HERE, I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT SOMETHING THAT WE NOW HAVE IN THE PROVINCE OF ONTARIO CALLED TOBY'S LAW. WHAT IS THAT?

The caption changes to "Accomplishments of note."

Cheri says TOBY'S LAW WAS THE VERY FIRST LGBTQ PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT I FOUGHT FOR AND FINALLY WON, AND THAT ADDED TRANS RIGHTS TO THE ONTARIO HUMAN RIGHTS CODE. AND WE WERE THE FIRST JURISDICTION IN NORTH AMERICA TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN OF ANY SIZE AT ALL, IN ONTARIO, AND THAT WAS A DRAMATIC SUCCESS. IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO GET IT. I TABLED IT AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. UNTIL FINALLY WE GOT IT DONE, AND I WANT TO THANK THE MEMBERS OF THE OTHER TWO PARTIES WHO SIGNED ONTO THAT BILL FOR ME. IT WAS ONE OF MANY. I MEAN, BANNING CONVERSION THERAPY, ALSO GOT THAT PASSED. ALSO GOT TRANS DAY REMEMBRANCE PASSED. GOT PARENT EQUALITY DONE. SO THERE WERE A NUMBER OF LGBTQ BILLS, IN FACT MORE THAN ANYBODY OF ANY LEGISLATURE IN CANADIAN HISTORY. AND A LOT OF THAT WAS BY WORKING WITH OTHERS AROUND QUEEN'S PARK. SO, AGAIN, ANOTHER PIECE OF ADVICE: DO THAT. BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY WHAT PEOPLE NEED WHO NEED YOU TO BE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR ROLE AS AN ELECTED REPRESENTATIVE IS TO GET THINGS DONE, TO GET SOMETHING ACCOMPLISHED.

Steve says AND LET'S FINISH UP ON THIS. HOW IS IT THAT YOU, A ONE-TIME ATHEIST, ENDED UP WITH THAT COLLAR ON?

The caption changes to "An Atheist walks into a church."

Cheri says WELL, FIRST OF ALL, AND, STEVE, YOU TOUCHED ON THIS EARLIER, BEING A CHILD OF TRAUMA, UNDERSTANDING THAT I'VE HAD A DIFFICULT LIFE. AT THE TIME THAT I WALKED INTO CHURCH FOR THE FIRST TIME, IT WAS WHEN I WAS DOING REALLY WELL. I ACTUALLY HAD MY OWN BUSINESS. I WAS MAKING MORE MONEY THAN I'VE EVER MADE SINCE. AND I REALIZED AT THAT POINT THAT MY MOODS WERE DEPENDENT ON MY COMPANY'S BILLINGS AND THAT WAS NOT A WAY TO LIVE. AND CERTAINLY I UNDERSTOOD THAT THE RECESSION OF THE EARLY '90s GAVE ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAYBE, YOU KNOW, DIVEST FROM MY BUSINESS AND GO BACK TO SCHOOL, AND I REALLY WANTED TO STUDY SOMETHING THAT WASN'T, YOU KNOW, ABOUT POLITICS, QUITE FRANKLY, THAT WASN'T... WASN'T GEARED TO MAKING MONEY, THAT WAS ACTUALLY FOCUSED ON GOD. AND WHAT DO I MEAN BY GOD? THE SOURCE OF ALL LOVE. IN THE BIBLE LOVE LIVES IN GOD AND GOD LIVES IN THEM. I WENT BACK TO SEMINARY. I DIDN'T KNOW AT THAT TIME THAT I WANTED TO BE ORDAINED BUT CERTAINLY WITH DON'S DEATH AND OTHER OCCURRENCES IN MY LIFE, THE PATH BECAME VERY CLEAR TO DO JUST THAT AND I'VE NEVER REGRETTED IT. IT'S THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD.

The caption changes to "Produced by: Steve Paikin, @spaikin. Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Steve says WELL, IT'S AN INCREDIBLE STORY, INCREDIBLY WELL-TOLD. SO CONGRATULATIONS ON GETTING THE BOOK WRITTEN AND OUT THERE FOR OTHERS. THANKS, CHERI DiNOVO, FOR COMING ONTO TVO TONIGHT.

Cheri says AND THANK YOU, STEVE, FOR HAVING ME.

Watch: Cheri DiNovo's Radically Honest Tale