While their political affiliations vary, three of the four Peterborough-Kawartha candidates for the next federal election share one thing in common: the Trent University experience.
Liberal MP Maryam Monsef ’03, Conservative challenger Michelle Ferreri ’97 and Green Party nominee Chanté White ’12 are preparing to show local voters why they are worthy of their vote (along with NDP candidate Joy Lachica). Ms. Ferreri and Ms. White secured their respective party nominations on August 4, while Ms. Lachica got the nod in April. Incumbent MP Monsef is seeking her third term in Ottawa and has once again been declared the local Liberal candidate.
A pivotal moment for women in politics
Also noteworthy is the fact that the local riding race will, for the first time, be contested exclusively by women.
“I’m the first women this community sent to Ottawa but I will not be the last. The real test of just how far we’ve come will be how many of those women who ran in the last (Peterborough municipal election) will seek re-election (in 2022) and how many more will join them,” says Ms. Monsef who graduated from Trent with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and is currently the federal minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development. “That’ll be a test of how sustainable this progress is.”
“We’ve come a long way, not just as women, but in politics,” says Ms. White, a Trent Environmental Studies graduate. “I also believe I’m the first black women to run in Peterborough-Kawartha under the Green Party banner; though I consider myself a community activist who happens to be black. I want to represent all of Peterborough. Doing that through the lens of a person of colour, especially as the child of immigrants, that’s a really big accomplishment.”
While agreeing that the all-women slate of candidates represents a welcome development, Ms. Ferreri says: “The point of what we are doing is to create opportunity and equity. I think it has a lot more power when you show people who you are rather than tell them. I have immense respect for anyone who puts their name on the ballot.”
Inspiration to carry through careers as leaders
Reflecting on their Trent experience, all three candidates say their time at the University continues to influence them today.
“Much of my success can be attributed to the encouraging professors I had… They all made me look inward and see what I could do to help create a better future,” says Ms. White.
Ms. Ferreri, who graduated with a degree in Anthropology and Biology, recalls her time at Trent was “a tremendous experience. The last few months before graduating – the crunch of exams, assignments, papers, labs – gave me a skillset that set me up for life. You had to learn to manage time. But what I really learned at Trent was how to learn.”
Noting the Trent presence on the ballot, Ms. Monsef observes that it “says a couple of things. First, that Trent matters. Second, that a certain kind of person gets attracted to politics and Trent both attracts and produces this certain kind of people. Trent taught me that, as an individual, I have the power to make a difference. Trent allowed me to flex some of my muscles and gave me a confidence I still have today.”