From Politics to Pride: A Politician's Perspective on Marginalized Communities
As the world continues to evolve, it has become more important than ever to stand up for marginalized communities, which rings especially true for the Liberal party Member of Parliament, Mr. Yasir Naqvi.
Yasir has been involved in politics since 2007, when he ran in the provincial elections and won in the riding of Ottawa Centre. Most recently, he served as a Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and resigned earlier this month as he focuses on potentially running in the next Ontario Liberal Party leadership election. He has also been actively involved in securing funding for the expansion and renovation of Centretown Community Health Centre and ensuring affordable housing for Ontarians.
“If elected representatives don't stand up and advocate for those issues [within marginalized communities] so that we can have true equality in our system, who will?” Yasir responded when asked why it is crucial for political leaders to advocate for 2SLGBTQIA+ issues. Currently, he says the Liberal party has done a lot for the community, specifically the transgender community regarding healthcare, however there is still more to be done to make it more accessible, safe, and expert. It’s a goal for healthcare to these individuals to be covered by OHIP to prevent out of pocket costs while also being confidential and secure. Despite there being noticeable improvements on these fronts, there are still barriers especially for those living in remote areas, where they not only are more removed from urban centers, but living among the stigma in smaller communities.
Yasir also addresses how there is a high degree of risk of homelessness particularly within trans youth and believes a key factor into solving this is making bigger investments into affordable housing. Partnering with NGOs that work on the grassroot level is a way to directly help the vulnerable. “We are far more impactful if federal, provincial and municipal governments work together. If there's one level missing, it's that much harder to achieve goals,” Yasir says, calling on other elected officials to come together.
As Yasir is aiming to run for the leader of the Ontario Liberal party, when asked about his goals and priorities, he responded almost immediately with healthcare. He acknowledges the lack of accessibility to healthcare and the lack of family doctors, and to that he says; “There's massive privatization going on but the size of your wallet –in our community in Canada– shouldn’t matter”. He also plans on expanding 2SLGBTQIA+ visibility within the party through intentional moves to make it reflective of our society. Including members that are representative of the society ensures all voices are part of decision making.
As students, we also play a part in advocacy and change, specifically with the bringing in of new and fresh ideas. In particular, in the era of technology when social media reigns, student activism is even more crucial. Yasir stresses the importance of perspectives and how politicians often do not have access to all ideas and points of view, therefore engagement is essential in bringing our unique voices and lived experiences to the table.
In order to contact elected officials, Yasir recommends setting up meetings with them, and bringing a briefing document to discuss ideas. He draws attention to how having a ‘back and forth’, debating, and exploring complex ideas are a step in the right direction of true advocacy and tangible solutions.