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Laura Mae Lindo plans to ‘keep rabble rousing’ after stepping down as Kitchener Centre MPP | CBC News

Laura Mae Lindo is no longer the MPP for Kitchener Centre.

Thursday was her last official day in office. She’s been the MPP since being elected in June 2018. She announced in January of this year she was stepping down from the role for various reasons, including citing the difficulty in finding and paying for child care, as well as a desire to be closer to home for her family.

Lindo sat down for an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition, on Friday to talk about what’s next for her. 

The full audio of the interview is at the bottom of this story.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Craig Norris: What’s in your heart? What’s on your mind this morning?

Laura Mae Lindo: I’m feeling all the feels. Serving the people of Kitchener Centre for the last five years has literally been one of the biggest honours that I’ve had.

There are so many issues that we still have to face and it’s unfortunate that a systemic barrier that I was fighting outside of the system ended up being the reason that I had to leave. But you know, I’ll just keep rabble rousing from outside. It’s how I roll.

Norris: You announced in January that you were stepping down. What has it been like in this role since you made that announcement?

Lindo: It was tough, but it was also, there were some good moments.

Part of why I had announced early was because I didn’t feel comfortable knowing that this was the choice that I was making and not telling the public. But I chose to wait until the end of the session because I was handing bills over.

So I was able to hand over, for instance, a guaranteed basic income bill, hand that over to one of my colleagues so that they could keep that fight up. Ensuring that the seniors advocate work that we were doing prior was also happening and just sort of making sure that there was a bit of a transition so that some of the voices and key advocacy areas for the people of Kitchener Centre were still on the docket.

Two people wearing masks on a tour of an office
Laura Mae Lindo is seen here in 2022 with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. (James Chaarani/CBC)

Norris: Now it is important to note and you mentioned that systemic reason you left was centred around daycare and the prohibitive cost of of daycare and availability of it. What have you heard from the community about your decision to move on?

Lindo: Well, it was interesting because there were a lot of people that were worried about me being honest about childcare being the reason that I couldn’t keep going. But because I was open with the full story. Childcare, we already knew, was expensive and that was one of the fights that we had.

A lot of the advocates that were talking about the need for accessible childcare were actually really, really happy that I was open with that because it demonstrated that it didn’t matter where you were or what you were trying to do, childcare impacts women that are just trying to be in the workforce, and every story that you have of how it has impacted us is important for the bigger movement.

There have been some people that have asked for clarity around what it is that I was asking for, and so I keep just reminding people that before and after care, your regular daycare cost, wasn’t the issue. It was that I was a member living outside of Toronto. And so when I’m at Queens Park from Sunday, sometimes to start on Monday morning until Thursday, the cost of childcare that’s overnight, the person that’s stepping in, like that’s a different kind of cost.

And the flip side of it was that it allowed me to remind people that there were a lot of single parents that were thinking about running and that literally chose not to because they didn’t know what would happen.

So if there is a silver lining, I think recognizing that the actual issue is that childcare isn’t considered an eligible expense at Queens Park, it reminds us of who the democratic system was actually made for … what kinds of issues they thought somebody would face to try and be an elected official. Childcare wasn’t even mentioned and so now that means that the fix is just as easy.

So I’ve drafted the legislation and have it ready for anybody who’s willing to table it. And in fact, the Leader of the Official Opposition, Marit Stiles, just messaged me yesterday on my last day and she was asking for a copy of it. So I will send that over to her and see what happens.

Norris: What do we lose when single parents decide they’re not going to run for office?

Lindo: There are many different things like lived experiences that I brought to the table. I did not realize that being a single parent was one that people outside recognized.

I had single parents throughout the years that I was in office actually say to me that it allowed for their voice to be at the table when it came to what affordability meant, because when you are the sole parent and you do have even one child — in my case it was three — people don’t realize that that cost of living, like it’s all on your shoulders.

That is one of those voices that you lose because there’s nuance to talk about affordability. There’s a nuance to how close you are to losing your home or not being able to pay your rent that month or that kind of stuff. But in my particular case, it’s sort of like a double whammy because there were already only a small amount of Black elected officials, and I’m also one of those Black elected officials.

So you’ve lost a single parent. You’ve lost another Black member at Queen’s Park. So there are questions about who this system was created for, who would have easier access to that system, and what can we do.

If we want our democracy to reflect the people, then you’ve got to make sure that you address some of these systemic barriers and it doesn’t have to be like a partisan fight. It just has to be a question that we ask ourselves in a decision that we make to change the way that we create that system.

Two women standing side-by-side answering questions by the media
NDP MPPs Catherine Fife, right, and Lindo are seen in this 2020 file photo when they were calling on the provincial government to make changes to long-term care. (Julianne Hazlewood/CBC)

Norris: What’s next for you?

Lindo: I’m at the University of Waterloo in the philosophy department and at this particular time, entering that department after the violence on campus in the gender and social justice program, there’s a lot in store for me because that’s a lot of sort of the root of why I was doing social justice work in the first place.

So I will be there. I’ll still be in community and now I can take what I’ve learned from how the system operates in my time in office out into the world and sort of teach that out to people.

Norris: We have no idea when the byelection will be for your seat. Premier Doug Ford has six months before he has to set a date. There are some candidates already in place. What’s your advice to whomever will be the next MPP?

Lindo: My advice is to stay tethered to community. I think that one of the reasons why people saw me as an effective elected official was that I always created a space to hear from community whether that was positive or not.

When I tabled Bill 67, the racial equity and the education systems act, I had a lot of people that were upset about that bill. A lot of hate coming to the office. I was calling people if they were leaving me messages and they were mean spirited, I was calling to find out why.

A lot of those conversations allowed me to understand that sometimes in the messaging that we have, when we’re trying to do something that we feel is on the right side of history, the messaging and the way that we communicate that out is really something that we have to work on. And so I would have conversations with community members and things started to shift.

I think it’s important for us to make sure that we are reminded daily that we aren’t there because of anything other than the people asking us to be their voice. So we’ve got to stay connected to community.

Norris: Is this it for politics for you? 

Lindo: I haven’t a clue because I said no to [Waterloo MPP] Catherine Fife so many times before I put my name on that ballot and so it’s difficult for me to say, ‘Oh no, I’m done. I’m never coming back.’

I’m not leaving because I chose to leave. I’m leaving because the system didn’t allow me to stay. And so I don’t know what will happen, but I do know that whatever happens, I’m going to take the advice from my daddy, who I lost in November, and I’m going to just make sure that I put my heart into whatever it is that I’m doing, use my position of influence and privilege wherever I am to fight for community and just keep doing good work in the world.

Premier Doug Ford has six months from the day the seat is vacated to call a byelection in Kitchener Centre, which means it needs to be set on or before Jan. 14, 2024.

Under the Election Act, elections must be called on a Wednesday, then held the fifth Thursday after the date of the issue of the writ.

LISTEN | Laura Mae Lindo on leaving her seat as an MPP, lessons learned and what’s next:


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