Meeting with Majid Jowhari, MP Richmond Hill to discuss a Just Recovery
Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Meeting held on July 29, 2020
Majid Jowhari, MP Richmond Hill
Trisha Kershaw, Constituency Assistant
one observer (in preparation for his own MP meeting)
On joining the meeting, MP Majid Jowhari quickly set the tone by saying his answer to all our questions was “Yes”. This immediately brought a sense of warmth and comfortableness to the meeting.
Everyone introduced themselves. We represented a number of different groups including Neighbours for the Planet (NftP), Everything Matters Movement (youth group under NftP), Drawdown Richmond Hill, Blue Dot York Region, Richmond Hill United Church, St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Conscious Minds Co-op and Leadnow.
Carrie expressed her excitement that the group had so many youth including 3 high school students and how important it was for them to have their voices heard as it is their future at stake. Majid agreed and was also pleased to see the young adults, and was happy to see the different groups coming together.
Haley gave a beautiful, moving and heart-warming Land Acknowledgement. Majid was impressed and said it was the best Land Acknowledgement he had yet heard and asked for a copy.
Nikki and Sarah, both students, introduced themselves and then each read 3 of the 6 Principles for a Just Recovery.
Carrie then acknowledged that Majid has already shown support for many of these principles; his advocacy for mental health, ongoing support on Climate Change initiatives at the local level including attending the NftP climate strike last September, and advocating for human rights and equality. Majid appreciated the acknowledgement.
Aimee, another student, then asked the first question about supporting the Just Recovery Principles: Majid said we have a responsibility to the youth and to bring awareness. People now understand climate change and the impact. They internalize that we are in a crisis. He mentioned Drawdown actions, and the need to balance economy and environment, and that there are steps that individuals can take. He mentioned that we need a “pilot project” for the community and then go national with it. He believes we all have a part to play. The short answer to this question was Yes.
James then asked the second question about having stimulus injection to fund programs for a net-zero 2050: Majid spoke about rolled out Green Economy Act, emissions funds for wells cleanup and that the Liberals ran on climate change policy and the focus has not changed. His answer again is a Yes.
Kathleen asked the question about committing to working with other parties for a Just Recovery: She pointed out how Canada had and continues to have a united front for the handling of COVID-19 and how that has resulted in successfully containing the virus. Majid stated that this is the principle of the Liberal party, to work with everyone, as the “middle of the pack”, explaining how his government has already demonstrated hard work and respect on this by working with transparency and cooperation with all levels of govt to deal with COVID-19.
Monica then asked about meeting again in the fall to check in with the progress of the Just Recovery: Majid said yes. Majid then invited everyone to Ottawa and offered to give our group a tour, and introduce us as he mentions the groups that are working on climate change, in his Member’s statement (after Sept 21, follow up required).
Monica stated that we may never get another chance to “build back better” and that she is at the meeting because of her grand children’s future. Majid responded that “we have lost our way”.... and that covid has made us reflect, reconnect, and care for humanity. We could use some re-grounding and use this approach for climate change. Holding government accountable will come from committees and much conversation has happened. Majid stated that when he was elected, his goal was to create 4 councils – one of which is an Environmental Council, but COVID happened just as they were going to start it up. Some of our groups – NftP, Blue Dot and DDRH are already on the invite list for the Environmental Council and he extended the invitation to all who attended. Majid also invited the youth in the meeting to join his youth council (they deal with education, mental health, and environment among other things). Majid hoped to get the councils going in September.
Liz asked Majid to put his name and support to one project (to reflect back to his comment on becoming involved in a pilot project). Majid said there could be multiple projects going at the same time, but we need to design and support them (to be followed up on).
James then expressed the need for commitment to becoming an anti-racist society. Wellness calls (by police) often do not go well. James thanked Majid for his Private Members’ Bill on Emancipation Day and said that Indigenous leaders need to be involved in Just Recovery talks. Majid replied by asking that any Indigenous stakeholder be brought to his attention in the future. James also specifically asked Majid to commit to talking to his colleagues about Indigenous inclusion in all Just Recovery plans/talks. Majid agreed and committed to doing that.
Aimee then talked about the Climate Action Committee she started at her school and how they wanted to do a climate strike but the School Vice Principal said no. Aimee felt that youth are limited and that in order to take more action they need government, and offered to join the Youth Council (to be followed up). She also mentioned that she is excited about the next federal election because she will finally get to vote! Majid offered to reach out to get space (eg in a community centre) if needed, invite everyone (including MP, MPP, Councillors, school Trustee), so the youth can have their voices heard. He even offered that the youth can meet at his office (holds 20 people).
Sarah talked about how COVID-19 and the need to isolate was very hard on her grandmother. It made her more aware of how fragile mental health is and that we need to check in on those we care about. She asked what Richmond Hill has done to help seniors during this time. Majid mentioned the “New Horizons” program, for seniors has considered covid support.
Nikki, also part of the Climate Action Committee with Aimee, mentioned that they were planning a campaign to plant trees but it got interrupted due to COVID. She wanted to “collaborate to bring this initiative alive”. Majid suggested starting with a “virtual tree planting” that, when COVID is over, can transition to planting real trees.
In response to previous comments about defunding the police and training the police, Monica commented that the issue is about the depth of systemic institutional discrimination. Certain institutions and systems were deliberately set up to treat certain groups e.g indigenous peoples and black differently. Groups affected imagine that only a “restart” in many instances will make a difference.
Monica and Carrie thanked Majid for all his efforts, and especially thanked the youth for their energy, passion and their contributions for a better future, and implored Majid to “be our voice in Ottawa”.
Notes by Liz Couture
Edits by Monica Woodley and Carrie Tai