The federal election is coming up fast, and we’ll be spotlighting both rookie and seasoned candidates so that you can learn what they’re all about and make an informed decision on October 21

Meet Melissa Jean Baptiste Vajda. As the NDP candidate for University-Rosedale, she made the decision to run for federal politics because “people are suffering in Canada,” she says. “I have experienced first-hand the hurt and pain caused by racism and discrimination. I also understand how difficult it can be to afford to rent a home, pay for school, and support a family. Inequality is growing in Canada; we are facing a climate crisis, Indigenous communities’ rights are given lip-service and then ignored. I believe that we can do better than this, and I am committed to fighting for it. I want to invite you to fight with me. I also want to extend my support to those feeling hurt and disillusioned.”

We chatted with Jean Baptiste Vajda this week.

SDTC: Have you always been politically active?

MJBV: I have voted in every single election at every level since I was eligible to vote. I always valued and respected my right to vote.

What’s your earliest memory of getting passionate about a certain cause?

My earliest memory was asking to become a schoolyard mediator in order to help kids combat bullying because I hated to see it and always wanted to stand up for others!

What was the catalyst for getting involved as a candidate?

As a legal clinic lawyer I see first-hand the devastating impact cuts to services has on everyone, especially the marginalized. After advocating against the Ford cuts to Legal Aid and advocating for the protection of affordable housing, I decided to step up my efforts by running in this election in order to fight for all the causes that I care about.

What drew you to the NDP specifically?

The NDP is the party for the people, and they will not fold to protect the interest of big corporations or the super wealthy. They believe in investing in social services for the greater good.

Heading into this election, which issues are at top of mind for you personally?

Based on my work, affordable housing is top of mind, and in my personal life, climate action/justice has me feeling a sense of urgency in advocacy. Climate anxiety is affecting my willingness to expand my family.

How do you want to help the constituents of University-Rosedale? What do you love about this place?

University-Rosedale is a very diverse riding. The constituents have expressed concerns regarding climate action/climate justice which includes real recognition of Indigenous rights, treaties and their sovereignty. I love University-Rosedale because each neighbourhood is unique and has a real sense of pride. I want to fight to maintain its integrity and help constituents thrive.

Walk us through a typical day in your life, from getting up until going to bed.

During the campaign I wake up at around 6:30 and check news via Twitter. I also make myself some tea. I then get ready and head out to canvass a subway stop. After, I head to campaign office to prep and respond to communication requests. In the afternoon I canvass neighbourhoods with volunteers once or twice a day. I then try to make it home in time to share a late dinner with my husband in order to stay connected during the campaign season. I then take a hot bath sometimes to decompress before heading to sleep to do it all again the next day.

Why do you want to be involved in federal politics?

I want to be involved in federal politics in order to help more people than I do currently. I want to work on a different front line ensuring that legislation is enacted in a way that we can all get ahead.