Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Ontario politician resigns to take up academic role

Published:Saturday | January 21, 2023 | 12:23 AMNeil Armstrong/Gleaner Writer

Laura Mae Lindo, the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) member of Provincial Parliament for Kitchener Centre, who is of Jamaican parentage, has resigned and will return to a university career in the summer.

In 2018, she was elected MPP and re-elected in 2022, after working as director of diversity and equity at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce that I will be moving into a new role in community as of July 2023 at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Philosophy,” Lindo posted on Twitter this week.

The chair of the NDP Black Caucus and member of the Official Opposition said her decision was “due to a number of systemic factors and a need to be more present for my family as we continue our healing after a challenging 2022”.

Her father, Gerald Winston Lindo, 83, born in Black River, St Elizabeth on October 24, 1939, died on November 12, 2022 in Ontario, and a cousin also passed away days later.

She also noted that one of the reasons behind her decision is the high cost of childcare. Lindo, who is a single parent of three, does not live in Toronto but is required to be at Queen’s Park regularly when the legislature is in session. This meant she pays more for childcare than she would if she were a parent with a local job.

A decision was made to try to help her with the additional costs, but she was told that every year she would have to find $6,000-$8,000 to cover her taxes, because of the way the benefit operates. It is taxable for MPPs.

Influence legislation

She said every decision about allowances that MPPs have is legislated at Queen’s Park, which means to solve the problem requires legislating the solution.

She believes the current system discourages prospective candidates in similar circumstances.

“When it comes to women putting their name forward, they often have to be asked two, three, four, five times before they will even seriously consider it. You add a racialised person to it, it’s even more time,” said Lindo when asked what political parties should do to retain MPPs who are single parents.

She feels, however, there are positives to her move.

“But I also feel like there is an opportunity for me to do what I like to call teaching out. So I’ve been inside the system and have a much better sense of how that system operates, and now have a different idea of what advocacy can look like to be more effective.”

In an academic role, she will also be able to do research where she can “build reports that can influence legislation that can help our communities”, and now she will have a better sense of where to send them.

Jill Andrew, NDP MPP for Toronto – St Paul’s, says Lindo will be remembered as one of the most transparent, community-driven, effective elected officials in Ontario.

“As a staunch proponent of inclusive, accessible, and equity-cantered leadership, she encouraged every one of the 124 members sitting in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to strive for the same.

“Her departure is an incredible loss for the Official Opposition Ontario NDP, the governing PCs, as well as the independent Liberal and Green members because she demonstrated how politics could be done differently within a hyper-partisan space without its traditional cannibalising tendencies.”

“Dr Lindo was a single black parent before she entered politics; this was not a secret. Regardless of party, the impact of inequity and systemic discrimination cannot be an afterthought. In order to ensure the active participation of all members, but especially those who come from groups woefully under-represented in politics, parties must make full commitments not only to get people elected but to fully support their success while elected, so they can represent their communities without reservation.”

“For women, especially BIPOC women and those without certain class privileges, the lack of affordable childcare will continue to keep many out of politics. Political parties and the legislature must see this as a priority otherwise the loss of outstanding elected leadership, like Dr Lindo’s, will remain the status quo. As legislators, we should be aiming to change the status quo not uphold it,” said Andrew.