Head of the House: A Sit-Down with Bardish Chagger

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

On January 15, Liberal McGill, a chapter of the Young Liberals of Canada, hosted the Honourable Bardish Chagger as the speaker of their welcome back event. Chagger, the Member of Parliament for the Waterloo region and leader of the Government in the House of Commons, took part in an engaging dialogue with students at Brutopia, a local pub on Crescent Street. The discussion focused on the importance of a democracy that is both accessible and inclusive, a point which Chagger expanded upon via her own experiences.  

Chagger went on to discuss some of the Liberals’ current progressive legislation, such as their student loan program, intended to make post-secondary education more accessible to all Canadians; putting a price on pollution, the Liberals’ plan to fight climate change by controlling emissions; and the Middle Class Tax Cut, a tax relief plan intended to ease the financial burden of the middle class. Chagger emphasized that by implementing progressive policies, all Canadians will benefit, which she reiterated by saying that “high tide lifts all boats.”

There were never people that looked like me at the front of the room… it hit a point where you stop believing that it would be a possibility

In discussing such progressive legislation, Chagger repeatedly noted the necessity of creating a more transparent and accessible democratic system and stressed the importance of government members reflecting Canada’s diverse population demographics. Chagger emphasized this point by referring to her own experience as a young politically-oriented student.

The child of Indian immigrants, Chagger was raised in the Waterloo region and became involved in politics at the young age of thirteen. With her father’s support, she utilized platforms such as her constituency association to voice her opinion, later joining the Young Liberals at the University of Waterloo.

Chagger refused to let this discourage her. Years later in 2015, she became a member of the first cabinet with gender parity, one which prioritized representation beyond just that of geographical and ethnic characteristics.  

When Prime Minister Trudeau talks about diversity as our strength, he’s not just referring to the shells that each of us occupy. He is also referring to the other characteristics that we represent. We have to have our voices heard for these reasons.

In addition to discussing the importance of representation within government, Chagger urged students to participate in Canadian democracy.  She commended the important role that the Young Liberals have played in developing generations of politicians, many of whom are now affiliated with other parties.

Through respectful debate, consultation with students, and attending politically oriented events, Chagger believes that all students can play an essential role in aiding the creation of a progressive political landscape. By voicing the opinion of the next generation, Chagger believes that further societal advancement can be achieved.

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