20 questions with newly minted NDP leader Marit Stiles

The NDP’s newly elected leader is positioning her party to drive Ford from Queen’s Park, but first we need to get to know her. We asked the MPP and Toronto mom about her favourite local restaurant, greatest regret, prized possession and why the two people she most admires are her kids.

What’s your daily ritual?

Reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee.

We’re talking an actual newspaper?

Yes, an actual copy of a newspaper. And I alternate which one every year. 

What was your first job?

Probably babysitter.

What’s the worst piece of career advice you’ve received?

Wait your turn.

What’s your fave T.O. restaurant?

Oh, my gosh, there’s so many. But I would say, if you haven’t tried Donna’s on Lansdowne, then you’re really missing something.

Where’s the best view in the city?

I think one of the best views in the city is from Ontario Place looking back at the skyline, which is why it’s so important that we keep it public and accessible.

What one thing do you have multiple versions of? 

Right now, I have an extraordinary number of blazers, in all colours. I can’t believe how many I have. Marilyn Churley, who used to be an MPP, told me many years ago that in a sea of navy suits a woman has the advantage of wearing a bright blazer.

What is your greatest regret?

Probably not being able to enjoy that time I had with my kids when they were little as much as I wish. I always regret that.

What book have you read the most?

 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

What living person do you most admire?

I’d say I have to pick two — my two daughters. They’re both young adults now. It’s been a really rough time in the last few years for a lot of those people of their generation, so I’m pretty blown away by them.

What Torontonian would you most like to hang out with?

I’d love to hang out with Rick Mercer. I don’t really know him very well, and I think we should know each other. 

What is your prized possession?

All my photos, family photos. 

What talent would you like to have?

Oh, I wish I could either play the piano or the guitar because I’d like to have an instrument I could play that people could sing along with. 

How do you get away from it all?

Any place there’s a lake and a hammock.

What is your greatest fear?

To lose the people closest to me. 

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

That hammock and that lake but with all my family and friends.

Why are you the best choice to topple the Doug Ford government?

I have the energy and I have the vision for how this province can be stronger and better for everyone.  

What went wrong last time around when the NDP actually lost ground last year?

The question I ask myself all the time is why did so few people actually vote? I think it’s on people like me to remind people that they can expect more.

The public is focused on corruption in the Ford government. Will that strategy resonate at election time?

I think there’s a lot of really big questions. Something definitely smells pretty fishy around some of what’s happened with the Greenbelt in particular.  

Is there any room for health-care innovation in terms of privatization for you?

I think that there are innovations possible within the public health-care system that this government refuses to explore. I mean, they sat on a billion dollars in the last year alone. A billion dollars of money that was allocated to health care they’ve never used. So they’ve been undermining the system, causing this crisis. And now we have a situation where — guess what? — they find the solution is not just private health care, but for-profit health care.