When I was young, economic instability caused mortgage rates to spike and my dad became unemployed. My family went bankrupt and lost everything -- including our home. The experience affected me deeply and established how I view the world.
I moved to Vancouver from Nova Scotia in 1989 to find work with $100 in my pocket. Back then it was possible for me to do jobs like delivering beer, running a printing press, or playing in rock bands while still renting a decent apartment.
But that’s all in the past. People living in Vancouver now don’t have the same opportunities I had to make their lives in the city. This needs to change.
I am running for mayor of Vancouver as I want to bring people together to tackle our affordability crisis. As your mayor, that would be my top priority. And I am confident I can do this because I know cities.
A few years after I moved to Vancouver, I found work with the City of Vancouver and Park Board -- and fell in love with how cities work. I went on to study urban politics and policy as part of my Masters right here at Simon Fraser University, moving on to complete a PhD on world cities at the London School of Economics in the U.K.
I moved back to Vancouver in 2002 to take a position at SFU’s School of Public Policy where as a tenured professor I wrote, taught, and provided advice to governments and the United Nations about cities and housing. I also fell in love and married my wife Jeanette Ashe, who chairs the Department of Political Science at Douglas College.
The question that is always on my mind is: What makes a city great? Vancouver in the early 2000s held a lot of promise. A new COPE civic government had been elected on a progressive agenda that focused on people.
But it didn’t last. The Vancouver I know was disappearing, particularly when it comes to affordable housing. Homelessness was on the rise, renters were struggling, and the vision of owning a family home was spiralling out of sight.
Spurred by the changes I saw around me, I took a break from my job at the university and ran for the NDP with Jack Layton. Elected as a Member of Parliament in 2011 as part of the Orange Wave, I joined the fight against Stephen Harper in Ottawa. Two themes came to dominate my parliamentary work: stopping Kinder Morgan and pushing for affordable housing.
Which brings me to today.
Now I want to be Vancouver’s mayor. With your support on October 20, together I know we can take on our big challenges and once again make this a city for everyone.