Oct 26, 2018

The power of ideas and research: A note from CCPA-BC’s incoming Director


I first encountered the CCPA when I was a university student trying to make sense of the world and my place in it. I’d moved out to Vancouver at 19 with a longing to explore this beautiful coast, a passionate if somewhat disorganized commitment to social justice, my cat, and not a whole lot else.

As a student, I was exposed to a world of ideas I hadn’t even realized existed. I was also drawn into activism. One of the movements I got involved with was the mass organizing happening at the time against then-Finance Minister Paul Martin’s 1995 federal budget. The budget mandated deep spending cuts in the name of deficit reduction, kicking off an era of deep austerity in Canada (despite the Liberals having been elected a couple years earlier on the promise of major investments in social programs like a national child care plan).

An important moment during that time was the day I came across a collection of CCPA publications at the SFU library — papers I poured over in great detail (yes, this is how we rolled before the internet was really a thing).

Those papers helped me understand the political moment I was part of. And they showed me how ideas, paired with rigorous facts and research, could be a powerful tool in the hands of activists and others involved in social justice struggles.

The CCPA’s work showed me how ideas, paired with rigorous facts and research, could be a powerful tool in the hands of activists and others involved in social justice struggles.

When the chance to work at the CCPA came along a couple years later, I jumped at it with everything I had. I was lucky to be hired as the second staff person tasked with establishing the CCPA-BC Office, working alongside Seth Klein. We were joined soon after by our Marc Lee, and many other incredible staff since, along with an impressive team of research associates and volunteers. Together with them, I’ve been incredibly proud to help grow this organization from a scrappy DIY outfit to an established and widely recognized source of progressive research and policy ideas.

Along the way, we’ve taken on right-wing think tanks and business groups. We challenged the relentless push for spending and tax cuts by previous provincial governments and documented their harmful impacts (on women, immigrants, seniors, youth, and many other marginalized groups). We helped seed important new organizations and coalitions (like the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the Living Wage for Families Campaign, among others). We’ve worked in close partnership with our allies in social justice, labour, environmental, and (increasingly) Indigenous movements. We led the way on climate and energy policy, and challenged the fossil fuel industry’s grip on our democracy. We’ve experimented with new ways of reaching people, as the technology, communication and media landscape transformed around us. We’ve trained dozens of students and young leaders.

And most importantly, I believe the CCPA-BC is playing a role in turning back the tide of neoliberalism — challenging over and over the idea that a grossly unequal society, where wealth and privilege are concentrated in the hands of the few, is the best we can do.

Today I’m excited to take on a new challenge at CCPA — stepping into the role of BC Office Director. These are big shoes to fill, as our founding Director Seth Klein moves on to the next phase of his career (though still affiliated with the CCPA-BC).

Having worked in a more behind-the-scenes role over the years, I know the CCPA-BC has been built by many hands — and shaped by many smart, strategic brains. That won’t change as we move into this next phase of growth.

In the years since the CCPA-BC was founded, we’ve had the privilege of being supported by thousands of people and organizations who share our belief that facts and ideas matter, and that public policy should be made by and for the many.

I look forward to my new role leading this fabulous team as together with all of you, we take this project to the next level.

An announcement about CCPA-BC’s leadership change from our board chair Mary Childs can be found here.

Our job posting for a new Associate Director can be found here.