Melina Laboucan-Massimo, fellow at the David Suzuki Foundation

THE ISSUE: Climate change

THE REASON: “It’s the biggest issue of our time, really, for all people on this planet. We have climate scientists around the world saying that we literally have 10 to 12 years to act. When I started working on climate issues a decade ago, people weren’t as aware, but now we’re seeing weather that we’ve never seen before, and that’s quite concerning. Building the Trans Mountain Pipeline locks us into a fossil-fuel future, which climate scientists have said we can’t continue to do. It’s just exacerbating the issue.”

Cicely Blain, CEO, Cicely Blain Consulting, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Vancouver

THE ISSUE: The protection of marginalized communities

THE REASON: “For me, it’s important that the government focuses more on how to keep communities safe. How do we train police officers so they know de-escalation techniques and don’t resort to violence? How can we make sure that the report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is honoured? There’s lots of room for change, and I think Canada has an opportunity to be a leader in reconciliation, making reparations and supporting communities that have been marginalized in different ways.”

Harsha Walia, writer and activist

THE ISSUE: Anti-immigration sentiment

THE REASON: “This is a wedge issue that we’re seeing in the United States, Europe and, increasingly, Canada. We think we’re immune to it, but there’s been an increase of white supremacist groups here, and there is an increased sentiment to deport, or not take in more, refugees. People [are beginning to] think that access to housing and health care is somehow contingent on expelling immigrants and refugees. So rather than advocating for adequate public services that are being gutted by deliberate policies of austerity, there’s an increasing movement to scape-goat migrants.”

Arlene Dickinson, entrepreneur

THE ISSUE: Support for business owners

THE REASON: “Entrepreneurs are driving jobs, creating economic growth and building stronger communities. At the end of the day, I think the government has to be on the lookout for how to make that easier and how to support them, whether it’s with favourable tax regimes, support for accelerators that help grow business or reducing red tape. It’s a critical component of economic growth and empowerment.”†

Rosemarie Powell, executive director, Toronto Community Benefits Network

THE ISSUE: Opportunities for young people

THE REASON: “I’m looking at inclusion in the labour market and at the historic and systemic racism and discrimination in employment. Bringing to light the situation and working with different stakeholders to address these issues is really important. We’re missing out on a pool of talent, and we need better outcomes for people who have been systematically discriminated against in the labour market.”

A version of this article originally appeared in the October 2019 issue of ELLE Canada.