A hotly contested nomination race is shaping up in B.C., after the recent announcement that long-time MLA Shane Simpson will not be running for re-election in the riding of Vancouver-Hastings.
In a post-Trump environment, there is a growing need to have politicians who are vocal on human rights and social justice to defeat the challenges of right-wing populism.
Niki Sharma, who is seeking NDP nomination for the riding, has led a tireless fight against racism, making her an asset for a progressive government in Victoria. As a woman of colour, she has not only faced racism herself, but has developed a deeper understanding of the issue, which has become a major menace not only across the border, but here in Canada.
A lawyer and vice-chair of Vancity Credit Union, Niki previously served as chair of the Vancouver Park Board. She therefore brings the experience of an elected representative. She has also been part of the climate justice movement as a senior campaigner with Stand.earth and is known for her advocacy for battered women.
As a journalist, I have also seen her marching on the streets in support of Syrian refugees and Indigenous communities.
But there is another reason why she should be elected. As a Hindu she will bring more diversity within the South Asian NDP caucus, which is filled mainly by people of Sikh heritage. The caucus needs members from the Hindu and Muslim communities, each of which have a sizable population in certain ridings. Their representation is important.
As of now Niki has endorsements from at least three NDP MLAs, David Eby, George Heyman and Katrina Chen, in addition to the support of Vancouver city councillor Christine Boyle and Squamish Nation councillor Khelsilem Tl’aḵwasiḵ̓an Sxwchálten. She has served with Chen in the past and helped her deliver the Childcare BC plan as the blueprint for universal child care in the province.
The current political climate, which is becoming increasingly toxic, needs to be fixed — and for that we need fewer career politicians and more passionate people like Sharma in politics.