At age seven, my family immigrated from South Africa to Canada, rejecting the racism and inequality that had surrounded us. My parents chose Vancouver’s West Point Grey as our new home. After graduating from Lord Byng and exploring Europe and Africa for eighteen months, I started planting trees in BC’s wilderness to earn my university tuition. This opened my eyes to the critical need to sustain the natural world we all rely on.
The reforestation company my husband Dirk and I created now employs 1250 people, mostly seasonally, and will shortly plant its 1.5 billionth tree in Canada. We had the privilege of sharing our vision of restoring ecosystems while generating economic opportunities with thousands of young Canadians of all backgrounds, witnessing them ‘come of age’ through the hard work, integrity and collaboration of the wilderness tree planting experience.
Returning to graduate school as a mom, while building the business, offered insight into the critical role governments can play in creating a greener, more sustainable society, with respect and opportunities for all.
This led to me choosing to enter politics eighteen years ago. First, as BC’s environment minister, laying the foundation for our province’s leadership on climate change. I continue to champion local policy priorities on the environment, economy, social justice and good government since being elected as MP for Vancouver Quadra in 2008, and more recently, through serving in cabinet as Canada’s President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government.
Our challenges are many. Beyond accelerating our critical transition to a green economy that leaves no-one behind, they include access to affordable housing and health care, reducing poverty, countering rising populism and intolerance, and resolving trade and international tensions. I offer my experience and dedication to work with all Canadians towards a stronger, more secure and more inclusive Canada, and a better world for my grandchildren and yours.