Green Party candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu shares her views on climate change, her Danforth roots, and female strengthby Vanessa Pinto
Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu is passionate about human rights, climate change, and her family. Both in conversation, and from her online presence, Mugnatto-Hamu’s motivation for entering Green politics is clear: realizing that her children needed “a liveable world to inherit.” In her interview with On the Danforth, Mugnatto-Hamu’s voice is one of strength and activism, and she expresses a respect for humanity that is inherently connected to the environment. Here is her story.
OTD: Can you tell the On the Danforth readers about your political life?
AMH: I never imagined I would be a politician, and I was never especially partisan. I admired Green Parties around the world for their long-term focus, but I didn’t vote Green until the 2004 election. By that time it was clear to me that none of the other parties had any plan for meeting targets to reduce carbon emissions. I joined the Green Party because I respect science and I’ve fought for human rights all my life. I could no longer sit back and vote for the best of the bad. Our children deserve voices in Parliament that will speak clearly for their future as well, and only the Green Party is providing those voices. I helped to build the coalition that fought the gas power plant on our Portlands. I spearheaded an initiative to facilitate reporting on air quality issues. I was also involved in fighting big-box development to protect local business and in demanding a naturalized rehabilitation for the mouth of the Don. I’ve joined in residents initiatives of all kinds to make streets safer and calmer. I’ve been the Climate Change Critic on the Green Party of Canada’s cabinet for the last three years. As a part of this group, I’ve been involved in platform development for the party so I’m very well aware of the process of making budgetary tradeoffs to develop a balanced platform.
OTD: What is one thing that stands out to you about the Danforth neighbourhood?
AMH: It exemplifies green values. It’s compact and accessible by transit, walking and bicycle. It has an abundance of fresh, local foods grown without pesticides. It is welcoming to newcomers and celebrates the diversity of the world within its borders. The people here are actively working to promote healthy and safe communities. I’ve been fighting for community issues for years. I realized soon after I moved here that my newly adopted baby had developed a rasp in his chest. I was horrified to discover that this area has one of the highest asthma rates in the country, primarily because of the winds blowing Don Valley smog our way. It’s frustrating because, like many people who live here, we moved into the area because of its outstanding transit connections. So a lot of the things I’ve been working on locally have to do with safety and health, and with cleaning up our air, water and soils. Toronto-Danforth residents live well, but are overcoming the toxic legacy of a long industrial history. The Portlands, which could be a waterfront gem, have instead become the dumping ground for unwanted development.
OTD: If elected, what is one thing you would change to benefit the riding?
AMH: I would engage with the community. I’ve knocked on every door at least twice already and if elected I would continue with close civic engagement, meeting regularly with residents, bringing their concerns to Parliament and changing policies and laws to address their needs. As a Green MP, I would have more freedom in Parliament than the members of any other party to vote with the wishes of my constituents. The Green party doesn’t function like most other parties. This is just a by-election; there is only one seat at play so the balance of parliament won’t shift. The question becomes “what can we do with that one seat?” What is the voice we can give in parliament that will most benefit Canada and Toronto-Danforth? Any other party will elect someone who will be thrown into the back benches, [and] told to […] vote strictly along party lines and nothing will change. As Elizabeth May’s Climate Change Critic, if I am elected, I will be encouraged to speak out as loud, clear and strong as I possibly can. So I will be the best possible representative for this community.
OTD: What is your vision for Toronto-Danforth?
AMH: I would like to see kids swimming in the Don again. I’d like asthmatic kids to breathe easy. I’d like to see the Don Mouth restored to a wetland filled with birds. I’d like caregivers to have the dignity of a guaranteed income. I’d like the streets to be safer. I’d also like to nurture a lot of the good things we already have — the exciting diversity of stores, the walk-ability and easy transit access, the inspiring creative hubs and the multitude of things to do.
OTD: How do you feel about running in the late Jack Layton’s riding?
AMH: It’s my riding. I chose to plant my roots here for myself and my family, and I’m committed to making it as wonderful as it can be. I’ve lived here for nearly a decade now and I want to grow with my community and the families within it. This is the greenest riding in Toronto and it deserves a Green MP.
OTD: What are your thoughts on being the only female candidate? What advice do you have for young female leaders?
AMH: What led me into politics is a fierce protective interest for my children; that seems very female, though I’ve met some men who share it. Most of the climate activists that work most closely with me outside elections are also women. I think this differs from the motivations of the other candidates. As an educated mom with a very scant career history, I initially could not imagine myself as a candidate, even after I had committed to working on climate change both within and outside of the Green Party. As a CEO of the local Green Party riding association, one of my responsibilities was to help the party find qualified candidates. I have had a repeated experience of approaching very qualified women candidates who were too timid to run, while much less qualified men were willing to jump-in to the race. My advice to women would be to have more confidence in themselves. We need more women’s voices speaking out, and women are generally more powerful and capable than they believe themselves to be. I am very proud that this time, the nomination for the Green Party candidate in Toronto-Danforth became a race between three very strong women contestants. While the slate of [other] candidates in this election is all male, no matter whom the Green Party chose the Green candidate would have been a woman. Elizabeth May jokes that if I am elected, I will do nothing to restore gender parity to the party, as our representation in Parliament will remain 100% female.
Disclaimer: On the Danforth Online is a neutral magazine, dedicated to providing information. The political views mentioned or discussed do not reflect the opinions or preferences of the staff or the magazine as a whole.