Q&A- Chrystia Freeland

Member of parliament for Toronto Centre,

Canada

Recently elected Toronto MP Chrystia Freeland spent much of her career as a journalist editing for major news outlets such as the Financial Times and Reuters outside Canada. She tells us why she’s switching to public service and about her hopes for the city.

Q: What made you decide to run for MP in Toronto?
A: It’s the next logical step from my book on the stagnation of the middle class in western industralised countries. I met Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau at a book party in Toronto last year. He had put the very same problem at the centre of the Liberal agenda and invited me to join his team. So I competed for the Liberal nomination and then the by-election.

Q: Where do you fit in as a federal MP in municipal affairs?
A: Toronto needs a political champion. Besides being an advocate and representative to my constituents, I want to express a vision for Toronto in the city, the country and the rest of the world.

Q: How can Toronto improve itself this year?
A: We have three different things going on: a city bursting at the seams, a desperate need for more jobs and a glut of capital in an environment of unprecedentedly low long-term interest rates. Put them together and what do you see? Infrastructure projects! Fix the infrastructure problem, create more jobs and the capital is there at very low rates. So this is a very solvable problem.

Q: Youth unemployment, even for graduates, is becoming worse.
A: Yes, that youth employment stands at 18 per cent is a real rallying cry for me to act. Their career path will be different from their parents; they are less likely to stay in the same job, city or even country their whole lives. One of the things we must do is provide public infrastructure and tools for them to become entrepreneurs. One encouraging thing in Toronto right now is the Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University, a technology company incubator. We need to double down on spaces like that.

Q: What are your hopes for Toronto in 2014?
A: That Toronto is not just the butt of late-night jokes by comedians. It’s an exciting, multicultural city which 100,000 people are moving to every year with good reason. I really hope people get engaged in the conversation we’re having on city issues.

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