Libby Davies retires from politics but not from activism

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: Libby Davies

Former New Democratic Party deputy leader Libby Davies bid farewell to public life but not to activism at her celebration of 18 years as a member of Parliament Thursday.

She helped open Canada's first legal injection clinic and proposed the unanimously supported motion to compensate thalidomide victims.

"I'll always be an activist. I'll always be someone who works on issues that I care deeply about. But I can do it without being a member of Parliament," she said in an interview after her address.

Over 100 people piled into the basement room of the Mount Pleasant Royal Canadian Legion, a veterans' centre turned bingo hall, to say goodbye. The sentiment seemed to be happy for her retirement but sad to see her leave politics.

Sharon van Volkinburgh, a social worker, met Davies close to 40 years ago when they worked together for the Downtown Eastside Residents' Association. 

"The fact that she's stood up for people that are drug users or [sex workers] really helps me because I'm working with them too," van Volkinburgh said.

Katrina Pacey of Pivot Legal also thanked Davies for helping with her law firm's work with Vancouver's sex workers. Pacey read out statements from sex workers thanking Davies for listening and believing in them. 

Davies used her time at the podium, decorated with coloured lights and orange balloons, to direct attention to another disenfranchised group: refugees. She announced that Unifor had sponsored a Syrian refugee family in her name.

Davies announced she would not seek reelection in December. She has been the MP for Vancouver East for the past 18 years as well as Vancouver city councillor, bringing her total tenure as a public servant close to 40 years. 

Despite losing such a longtime MP, the NDP managed to keep the Vancouver East riding in the October 19 general election. First-time MP Jenny Kwan will step into Davies' seat in the new government.

"I think we're both activist politicians," Kwan said. "We're both fighters and we're very much inspired by the people in our community." 

Kwan said she'll be focusing on affordable housing and addressing poverty in her riding, issues that Davies says still need to be fought for.

"Number one is housing," Davies said. "It's probably the single biggest issue facing people. Not just people who are poor but students, young families and working people who feel they're priced out of the city." 

Megan Devlin was rabble's news intern for summer 2015. She's pursuing her Masters of Journalism at the University of British Columbia. 


Further Reading

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.