Changing the place where you live -- some ideas for smaller cities

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Keanan Alywin by the Barrie Waterfront

If you look at maps of electoral riding across the country and which politicians represent them, it’s pretty evident that most of the progressive politicians are elected from large urban centres. Not exclusively, but mostly. 

rabble podcast executive producer Victoria Fenner lives in one of those conservative places that has a track record of electing politicians who don’t seem to understand a lot of basic issues like poverty, human rights, and issues of inclusion, among others.

Barrie isn't a lot different from many other smaller communities across Canada. Except that Barrie is a bit more special in that regards, having been the only place east of Manitoba to have ever elected a Reform party candidate to Ottawa. That was back in 1993 when another guy named Harper (Ed Harper - no relation to Stephen) was elected for one term.

Victoria moved to Barrie three years ago after living most of my life in big cities. She decided to do this interview because, she says. "It was pretty easy in Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton to seek out and be with people who pretty much shared my values.  It's frustrating in many ways to live here, but frustration hasn’t worked very well for me. I’m not planning to move, so I’ve been actively exploring what I can do to have an effect on my community?"

So she's making an effort to connect with the progressive people who do live here, rather than lament that there are not as many of them as she would like.

Keenan Alywin one of those people. Keenan was born in Barrie, went away to school and came back. He’s one of the most visible workers for human rights and a just and fair society in Barrie. He’s young, has a lot of energy, lots of skills and abilities and good ideas. He also ran locally in the last provincial election for the Green Party. He didn’t win but is trying again, running for City Council in Barrie in the October municipal elections.

Victoria and Keenan got together down at the Barrie waterfront to share some thoughts about the small city where they live, and also what people in other places like theirs can do to be the change they want to see.

Image: Keenan Aylwin. Photo by Victoria Fenner

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