Julia Riddell hopes to win Winnipeg South Centre for the New Democratic Party of Canada on Sept. 20.
The mental health advocate, clinical psychologist, professor and environmentalist hasn’t been too heavily involved in politics, but felt compelled to put her name on the ballot this time around.
"I want to make sure everyone’s needs are met," Riddell, 32, said. "I advocate for patients and Indigenous communities, so running for federal office as an MP is another way to serve the community, advocate for better mental health care, (and) reconciliation."
Riddell has been drawn to community activism from a young age, and joined local organizations focusing on the environment and social justice issues while earning her degree in neuroscience with a minor in peace studies from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
She joined the Hamilton Centre for Teaching Peace, where she helped organize the Youth Peace Education Conference where she co-ordinated free classes for the community.
Riddell went on to earn her master’s and PhD in clinical psychology from York University in Toronto, Ont. She worked as a teaching assistant, course co-ordinator and course director before moving to Winnipeg in 2018 to do her residency.
Riddell fell in the love with the city, and decided to make it her home.
"I bought a house here in the Earl Grey neighbourhood, I just couldn’t imagine living anywhere else," she said.
Riddell is currently a practising clinical psychologist with Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority. She is also an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba in the medical school.
Mental health is one concern that motivated her to run for office.
"I’ve worked in mental health throughout the pandemic providing direct patient care," Riddell said. "Prior to COVID-19 there were clear gaps in terms of who had access to mental health care in Canada and who did not, but the pandemic has just really widened those gaps and put so much stress on a system that was already not sufficient."
Aside from mental health, Riddell said her priorities are aligned with the federal NPD platform and include Indigenous issues, climate change and seniors’ care.
"I think a lot of the frustration that I hear from many people in my community is that those making decisions have never done the jobs in those sectors," Riddell said. "As someone who works in health care and education, I think I have a really good understanding of not only the day-to-day, but also the big picture."
If the NDP are elected, Riddell said, there will be dental coverage for all Canadians, more affordable homes, and the internet will be made an essential utility with a cap on what providers can charge.
Other candidates for Winnipeg South Centre are Jim Carr (Liberal), Joyce Bateman (CPC) and Douglas Hemmerling (Green).