This interview was conducted via email during the election campaign of 2015, when Dr. Jane Philpott, PC MP was running for the riding of Markham-Stouffville.
So you started off as a family physician and have been working at Markham-Stouffville hospital for fifteen years. What got you interested in medicine?
I have always wanted to help those around me and help build a better society. I chose to be a doctor because I wanted to serve my community and help improve people’s lives.
You’ve done a lot of charity work and helped set-up the Markham Family Medicine Teaching Unit amongst other things. Is becoming an MP just a logical progression of all the work you’ve done?
Yes! I’ve learned so much from my work as a family doctor and community member. However, I’ve realized that medicine is just one part of what makes a healthy person and a healthy community. As an MP, I would be able to influence policies that complete that picture – things like housing, the environment, the economy, jobs, increased support for home care for seniors, and many others. I would be taking much of what I’ve learned with me to Ottawa to support our community here in Markham-Stouffville.
This should be considered especially noting the lead you’ve taken in some polls ahead of Conservative incumbent Paul Calandra. Do you pay attention to these?
While the polls are exciting to watch, I try to keep focused on what our campaign is doing. Our team is meeting hundreds of citizens every day to ask what issues matter to them, and let them know many of the elements of the Liberal Party platform, including my goals should I be elected as MP.
This campaign has been one of the longest in history. Since the election is so long, has that affected how you campaigned?
To some degree it has had an impact. Because of the new election laws put in place by Stephen Harper we’ve known that October 19th was set as election day for a while now. Our team has been hard at work since my nomination in 2014, all building up to Election Day. The official election period is longer (August 2 until now) than we have had for many years. We have set a good pace and used every day to reach out to the community.
Whilst we are talking about campaigning, I must ask about the policy in placing signs?
There are a variety of rules around elections signs regarding placement location and when they can be put up. The municipalities determine much of this, which is why you see different signs on regional roads and household lawns. We cannot place signs up until the municipality allows, and they must come down shortly after the election.
What do you feel you get out of all the signs, are they merely for name recognition?
The signs are important for recognition and to let residents know who their candidates are for each of the parties in our riding. They also allow residents to show their support to their neighbours with lawn signs as well.
You talk about in your website how your life long career of helping people lead you to politics, saying: “Now I have become engaged in politics with the goal of helping to build a healthier society.” Could you explain what you mean by a healthier society?
It takes more than medicine to make people healthy. I have studied a great deal about the social determinants of health. For people to be healthy, we need a strong economy, good jobs, social support networks, healthy child development, a wholesome environment and more. As an MP I would have the privilege of helping to shape policies that affect so many areas of our lives.
“For people to be healthy, we need a strong economy, good jobs, social support networks, healthy child development, a wholesome environment and more.” – Jane Philpott
You talk about how adept you are at listening to the concerns of people with your experience as a physician, what are people saying to you now?
Many residents tell me they want a change in our federal government, and that they are not happy with the direction our country is headed. They do not like the fear tactics used, and the pitting of Canadians against Canadians in the current campaign. On the local level, residents are tired of gridlock and lack of public transit options. We have had a good response to our positive platform to create jobs and boost the economy.
Now, nationally Justin Trudeau has seen a rise in the polls, making the race for PM practically a three-way tie, with Trudeau ahead in some cases. What can you attribute to Trudeau’s rise?
I am very proud to be a part of the Liberal team lead by Justin Trudeau. People have responded to the Liberal leader because of his optimism and positive outlook for a better Canada. Many of the Liberal announcements focus on how Canadians can work together to improve our country. We have a bold and ambitious plan to invest in Canada’s future, create jobs and build a strong economy that works for all Canadians.