VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – He spent a lifetime fighting for progressive change and social justice. Now, Ian Waddell wants to pass on the lessons he’s learned to the next generation of activists in the new book, Take the Torch, A Political Memoir.
By his own admission, the 75-year-old has led a charmed life, arriving in this country as a Scottish immigrant. “I came [to Canada] when I was aged five,” he says. “Fourteen years later, I was I driving a car to pick up Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson!”
“It’s amazing the opportunity I had [in] that post war Canada. I’m hoping that some little girl from Somalia or something gets the same opportunity I got when they immigrate to Canada. That’s the kind of country we want to create.”
Waddell started his career as a storefront lawyer in Vancouver in the 1970s before entering federal and then provincial politics. He served as a New Democrat MP in the Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney eras and then served in the cabinets of BC Premiers Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh.
One of his proudest accomplishments was helping enshrine Indigenous rights in the constitution. He calls reconciliation our country’s great unfinished business.
“It’s going to be a rocky road, but in the end, I’m convinced that we will end up with equality,” Waddell feels. “I’m pretty positive on the fact that you’re going to see a generation, and we’re seeing it, of Aboriginal leadership emerge, and it’s going to help the country.”
Waddell also hopes to see a true national energy plan that includes buy-in from all Canadians, which the Trans Mountain pipeline debate shows we clearly don’t have.
Since leaving politics, he has worked on increasing engagement in public life, producing the film The Drop, Why Young People Don’t Vote. “It’s not the fault of young people,” he says. “It’s the fault of politicians, they’re not relating to them!”
Take The Torch is published by Nightwood Editions.
A book launch is planned for Wednesday, Nov. 14 at the Vancouver Art Gallery.