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Nickel Belt and Sudbury NDP candidates launch joint office

Both Nadia Verrelli, (Sudbury) and Andréane Chénier (Nickel Belt) say running came after events that were the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’
Though it was an event tinged with sadness because it coincided with the 10th anniversary of former federal NDP leader Jack Layton’s death, there was also hope for the future at the Sunday launch of the local NDP campaign headquarters.

Home to the teams of both Nadia Verrelli, the candidate for Sudbury, and Andréane Chénier, the Nickel Belt candidate, the location at 1486 Lasalle formerly housed the clothes store Addition-Elle, and the candidates have had some fun with the remaining signage

A large sticker high on the wall promises “Fashion Democracy, brought to you by…” with an orange NDP sticker below. 

Attended by approximately 25 volunteers and guests, the location allowed for social distancing and both COVID screening and vaccination requirements were in place. 

The event opened with a smudge and song by Will Morin, former Indigenous Studies professor at Laurentian. 

Speeches from both candidates were impassioned and both spoke to a frustration with those currently in power. 

“We're done with Ottawa ignoring us, we're done with MPs who don't show up,” said Verrelli. “We're done with MPs who make excuses. We can and we will change that.”

Verrelli is a former political science professor at Laurentian University who lost her job in the round of “Black Monday” layoffs, when Laurentian University filed for insolvency, and said Sudbury needs a representative who “shows up when Laurentian is being dismantled when workers rights are being ignored.”

Verrelli said, “When homelessness and the opiate crisis are at an all time high, when we're facing a climate emergency, we need a representative that sees Sudbury's potential and helps us realize it.”

In her speech, Nickel Belt candidate Chénier noted a question she is commonly asked: “why run for office?” 

Chénier said her answer is simple. “I'm tired. I'm tired of decisions that don't make sense to me, that benefit the very few while those who need and deserve acknowledgement, respect and support are left unheard, dismissed and to fend for themselves.” 

In an interview after the event, both Chénier and Verrelli spoke about the choice to run for office. Both as first time federal candidates, and as people who faced “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” 

“I’m a health and safety specialist, I've been fighting for safe workplace safe communities for the last 10 years,” said Chénier.  “This pandemic, I think for me, was ‘the straw that broke the camel's back’.” 

Chénier said she had trouble understanding the government protection plans for workers.”

There are different standards of protection, whether you’re at the federal level or at the provincial level, there was so much disinformation that was allowed, misinformation that was allowed, simply because we lacked leadership.”

She said that was the moment she knew she needed to stand up. “I needed something different, I needed somebody to actually stand up for us, to know that we needed to have somebody who was going to call people out on decisions that weren't based on evidence. So for me, that was when I thought, ‘I can't do this anymore’.” 

Chénier said her mother, who raised her on her own, had a quote for times like that.  “You can complain all you like, but at some point, you have to work the problem,” she said.  “And so now I'm going to work the problem and I'm going to try something different. I've tried talking about it from the outside and it hasn't worked for me. So now I'm going to try working it from the inside.”

Verrelli said her parents were convinced she would be a politician from a young age. For her, the choice to run was down to timing.

She said she knew it was a family decision, not just because she lives with Multiple Sclerosis, but because she said she knew it’s not just a “me thing.”

“My partner and I had started talking about it in November and December, because we fully appreciate that this is not a ‘me’ thing,” she said. “Our family has to come to a decision.”

But then, the straw that broke the camel’s back: Laurentian University filing for insolvency. Verrelli lost her position, as did more than 100 others, and she felt Sudbury’s representatives were unhelpful. 

“We hadn’t heard from our MPs, and that upset me,” said Verrelli.  They should have been there for us.” 

Verrelli wrote an opinion piece to share her belief that Sudbury MP Paul Lefevbre, who put forth a private member’s bill to prevent creditor protection act from being used in a similar fashion in future, “didn’t go far enough.” 

As these things do, her article began to make the rounds on social media, and not only did she feel she was unheard, but had someone question her credentials.  

“Someone shared it on Facebook, and referred to me as ‘that woman who claims to have a PhD’,” said Verrelli. “And I was like, you know what? I'm done with us being undermined. I'm done with this. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, the constant questioning of women's credentials, the cost of the constant undermining of what Sudbury needs.” 

“I felt like I could do this. And here I am.”



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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with Sudbury.com. She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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