Ontario MPP Dipika Damerla says she finds it fascinating that when most people talk about democracy, they talk about the right to vote, as though democracy begins and ends with that. “They don’t think about the right to run for office, which in many so-called democracies around the world is still restricted to a privileged few. The concept of primaries in North America is a wonderful thing. You are not handpicked. To become a candidate, you have to win a contest. This gives the average person like me the opportunity to participate. It gives newcomers the chance to be politically engaged.”
Canadian citizenship is much-prized. But, says Damerla, citizenship is much more than a plastic card – citizenship involves democratic engagement.
The chartered accountant who became a banker who became a television personality is now an Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament.
“We all came here with a dream. This country allows you to achieve that dream, no matter how outlandish it might seem.”
She recently completed one year as Ontario’s Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.