Representation is important right? I got to thinking about this somehow the other day and came up with a question the internet had no answer to. How many politicians in Canada grew up on welfare? How many were poor in Canada and rose to the level they did? I don’t care how they did it… I don’t care if it’s part of their bootstrap success story and they use it to cut welfare rates for kids like me. I don’t care why. I just care that it’s possible.
So I looked at around 300 MPs wikipedia pages and garnered little to no information. I’ll admit that I stopped at 300 and didn’t finish the rest of the 38 because I was just so tired of it. I was at the time also sending them all an email to ask if they had experienced child poverty in Canada as a child and if so, for how long?
There’s a politician that dropped out of 9th grade, educated himself and rose to the position of MP for the shady side of Hamilton.
There’s a politician that grew up in said shady side of Hamilton. But it isn’t clear as to whether he was poor or he was just surrounded by poor people.
We have almost the same number of people who immigrated to Canada from conflict areas as First Nations politicians and neither group perfectly fits my research paradigms. I likely can’t even begin to imagine what they’ve experienced. I would never want to denigrate that or dismiss the weight of it or to say that the weight of my experience is like theirs. But I am looking for politicians who might conceivably have a nuanced understanding of my experiences spending much of my childhood on welfare.
And there’s a lot of women and minorities which pleases me. But little info on what their parents do.
If there WAS info on parents it was almost always for a politician under the age of 40: parents were lawyers, parents were politicians, parents were political volunteers, parents were cops, parents were teachers, there were a few working class backgrounds but not many.
From my emailed question:
I gotta say I absolutely shit the bed on politicians with last names A-B. They got a weird email with no real details on why I wanted the information. One has since responded openly but I don’t expect a lot of super warm responses. Politicians with last names C-Z got this email:
Greetings and hello, I’m trying to answer a question for myself that I have not found any research on. Thus I am conducting my own. Contacting you is only part of my research but could circumvent a monumental task for me trying to find the answers to.
The question is if any current Canadian MPs or MLAs have personally experienced child poverty in Canada.
It would help me greatly if you were able to tell me if during your childhood your family spent any time on welfare, and if so, how much time?
I am defining my research by considering a person whose parents were collecting welfare during their childhood as having had an experience of child poverty in Canada. I realize there are other experiences of child poverty and if you feel you have one, please elaborate.
Lack of response will indicate to me that you have not personally experienced child poverty in Canada.
Thank you for your time.
One politician experienced child poverty such that they knew their family was accepting help from social programs and this was until sometime in their teen years. This is enough a part of their identity that their aide knew of this.
One politician knew that their family was having rough times during a time when they moved a lot and doesn’t know the specifics of how the food got to their table but recognizes it may have been difficult.
Alex Nuttall: Has publicly gone on record about his childhood on welfare: https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/07/29/rookie-mp-owes-his-rise-to-barrie-delacourt.html
I’ll update this as I go along.