I take solace in the words of Steve Jobs who said, “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
As it relates to my recently declared political aspirations, I’m not naïve enough nor vain enough to suggest that I could single-handedly change the world. But I find reassurance in Jobs’ statement because he affirms the value of crazy thinking. The statement gives me confidence to go on believing that, with the help of a great team, I could play a significant role in building a better community and better country.
I want to communicate a worthy vision for the people in my community whose support I will need if I am to fulfill my dream of becoming a Member of Parliament. My mind is bursting with ideas about how Canadian society could be improved. But I will focus on three key themes to explain my political goals. I’ve tried to make it easy to remember. If you are curious about Jane, here’s an explanation of why you would support HER: Health, Economy, Representation.
“H” for a Healthy and Happy Community
It should be no surprise that a family doctor would focus on a healthy community. Canadians are rightly proud of a health system that has been strong and fair. But we’ve taken the system for granted. We have not recognized the gradual erosion of commitment to the basic principles on which Canadian medicare was based. The current federal government has displayed a shocking detachment from the subject of health. They have demonstrated neither vision nor concern for the future of our health system. I would like to be in a position to ensure that an affordable, accessible health system is in place for our collective future.
My statement of core issues intentionally refers to a community that is both Healthy and Happy. The “Happy” part is essential. True health involves not just our physical well-being. I firmly believe that there is no health without mental health. We have plenty of work to do on this front. I’m convinced we can build a healthier society – where everyone can enjoy a life that is meaningful, productive and peaceful.
“E” means Economic Progress for Everyone
A healthy and happy community leads naturally to economic progress. Every level of government has to play a role in sustainable economic development. The underpinnings of this progress are job creation, fair access to opportunities and fiscal accountability. Canadians of all ages are struggling to find good jobs in this changing economy. I’ve been disappointed by the job creation plan of the current federal government. I want to work with a team that is committed to doing better.
One of the greatest economic crises of our day is the growing income gap. We must not accept a trajectory of economic growth that only brings benefits to the richest segments of society. I’ve spent my whole adult life committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable. My obligation to fairness and equality of opportunity will not stop when I get into a position of direct political influence.
Few topics stir political cynicism as much as the irresponsible management of public funds. Canadians now face the biggest deficit in our history. We need transformation in how tax dollars are collected, managed and spent. Being a steward of the public purse is a grave responsibility. It is a duty I will undertake with prudence, solemnity and transparency.
“R” stands for Responsible and Responsive Representation
This is the core of our democratic system. Politicians need to genuinely represent their constituency. Here’s where my experience as a family doctor comes in handy. I’ve spent 30 years listening to patients. For the last 15 years I’ve listened to patients in Markham and Stouffville as they share with me the deepest concerns of their lives. I’ve laughed with them and cried with them. I’ve seen them through some of their best and their worst days. I’ve done a lot of listening.
The skill of listening should help me represent my community as an elected official. I have an informed sense of what ordinary Canadians are facing. Moreover, I’ve developed the skill of advocacy. Advocacy means “influencing those who have power on behalf for those who do not”. Just as I have done as a physician, I will be prepared as a politician to advocate on behalf of the individuals, families and communities that I would represent. I am proud to live and work in one of the most culturally diverse regions of this country. Representing such diverse perspectives will be no small task. It will require much wisdom, dialogue and thoughtful reflection.
The challenge of representing my community as a federal politician is clearly a daunting vocation. But at the risk of sounding melodramatic, I believe I’ve spent my whole life preparing for this work. I also know that I would be enabled by the incredible support of family, friends and colleagues. With that support I push forward – investing myself in the task of building a better world.