A Grenadian-born entrepreneur is first out of the blocks as a contender to fill the seat left vacant following the death of Conservative Member of Parliament and Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty.
Last week, Celina Rayonne Caesar-Chavannes was acclaimed the Liberal candidate to fill the Whitby-Oshawa seat in a by-election.
Flaherty represented the riding in Ottawa for eight years prior to his death last April.
“This campaign has been a journey and tonight’s nomination is the first milestone on the road to our ultimate goal of electing a Liberal to represent our great community,” said Caesar-Chavannes. “Although I did not grow up here, my husband and I made the decision to raise our family here. This is our home.”
A graduate of the University of Toronto and the University of Phoenix, Caesar-Chavannes is a former research assistant with the Rotman Research Institute and research co-ordinator with the University Health Network and the University of Toronto.
The Rotman School of Management Executive Master of Business Administration candidate lectures widely on the inclusion of marginalized populations in clinical research.
Failing to secure full-time employment after graduating with a Master of Business Administration degree inspired Caesar-Chavannes to launch ReSolve Research Solutions (RRS) 10 years ago. It’s a site management and clinical research consulting firm whose clients include pharmaceutical companies, private firms and non-governmental organizations.
The company employs a novel approach to research management that provides clients with innovative strategies for meeting deadlines through regulatory and ethical compliance and also collaboration and stakeholder education.
“I have been truly blessed by the success of my firm and the opportunities it has provided me and my family,” said Caesar-Chavannes. “However, while the work was exciting, I wanted an opportunity to give back to the country that has given us so much. I started volunteering with the Congress of Black Women and other organizations and last March I e-mailed the Whitby riding association president indicating I was interested in running as the Liberal candidate. Five days later, I received a response from the party as part of their ‘Invite her to Run’ campaign. At that point, the seed was planted.”
Caesar-Chavannes also said she was inspired by Justin Trudeau when he spoke eloquently in his Liberal Party leadership acceptance speech of his love for Canada and his commitment to public service.
“When I started this journey, I was inspired by his commitment of hope and hard work,” she said. “The residents of Whitby-Oshawa are tired of hearing of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s senate appointments that offer no sober second thought. On the other hand, they are excited about Trudeau’s plan to reform the institution and take politics out of the appointment process. They are also tired of a government that talks about helping sell business only to raise employment taxes on the engines of our economy and also of a government that talks about reducing wait times in our health care system. We need a government that’s prepared to lead.”
The married mother of three and Canadian resident for the last 38 years thanked her family for their encouragement and support and the Whitby-Oshawa riding association for their mentorship.
Created 11 years ago, the Whitby-Oshawa riding was held by Liberal Judi Longfield, who Flaherty defeated in the 2006 federal election.
By RON FANFAIR