Political discussions around the dinner table peaked Kathleen Mathurin’s interest in government and community service at a young age.
Her father, Joe Mathurin, played a major role in New Democratic Party (NDP) member David Warner’s election to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on three separate occasions.
The family patriarch who, along with his wife migrated from St. Lucia nearly four decades ago, is also very active in the community, serving two terms as president of the St. Lucia Association of Toronto.
“The talks at home and seeing my father’s active engagement provided me with a sense of what I can do for my community,” said Mathurin who is the Scarborough Centre NDP candidate in the October 6 provincial elections. “The political science courses I took in school and learning about different levels of government also helped.”
The married mother of two young children contested the last election, finishing third with 4,401 votes behind Liberal Brad Duguid who secured 17,714 votes and Tory Samy Appaduria with 8,313 votes.
Duguid, a former city councilor, has held the riding seat for the past eight years.
Mathurin said her first foray into politics was a learning experience and she promises to pose a formidable challenge for the riding that the NDP last held in 1995.
“I have grown as a person in the past four years,” said the longtime Scarborough resident. “I have two small children, I am recently married and I am a fairly new home owner. I have learned how to multi-task with two young kids who demand a lot of my time and I have also being exposed to the challenges that people face in getting access to child care. I had difficulty finding child care space and getting a subsidy.
“In addition, my husband and I have full-time jobs that pay above minimum wage and we still encounter problems managing our budget. The problems we face are similar to those that most of my constituents have to contend with. I understand the issues and that’s why I want to be the riding’s representative at Queen’s Park.”
In addition to her parents, Mathurin – whose campaign platform also includes increasing health care accessibility and quality and accessible transit – said late NDP federal leader Jack Layton and her recently deceased aunt Dr. Joan Lesmond were instrumental mentors in her personal development and career growth.
She met Layton for the first time four years ago at a downtown rally for former Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton.
“The one memory that stands with me of Jack was the greeting he gave me with open arms and a big smile,” recalled Mathurin who works with the Ontario College of Teachers assessing foreign credentials. “It looked like we were dancing in the street. I had a couple of friends with me and he extended the same kind of greeting to them.
“Jack was an advocate for social justice and he understood what it meant to give everybody an equal playing field. His fight was always about making the community inclusive and that is why I am with the NDP. You feel as if you are part of a family.”
An active member of the advocacy group ACORN Canada, Mathurin said her late aunt was a strong woman who cared about her community.
“She always had a smile and a kind word,” said Mathurin who graduated from York University with a Political Science degree. “She was so very supportive – especially to the female family members – and I miss not having that strength around me.”
The riding, established in 1963, has approximately 71,000 eligible voters.