Born in St. Jamestown, the newly elected Liberal MP, reflects on her core beliefs and lived experiences.
In this episode of Regent Park TV, reporter Dimitrije Martinovic, introduces Regent Park and Toronto Centre to their new Member of Parliament. On September 17, 2020, Marci Ien was announced as the Liberal candidate for the by-election to the 43rd Canadian Parliament for Toronto Centre, following the resignation of Bill Morneau. Marci won the by-election on October 26, 2020, defeating Green Party of Canada leader Annamie Paul and NDP candidate Brian Chang.
Marci Ien is a Black Canadian of Trinidadian descent. Ien graduated with a degree in radio and television arts from Ryerson University in 1991. She began her journalism career at CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario in 1991 as a news writer and general assignment reporter. In 1995 she began reporting from Queen's Park in Toronto, with her reports appearing both on CHCH's local news and on WIC's national newscast Canada Tonight. In 1997 she moved to CTV as a reporter for CTV Atlantic, covering major stories including the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia. In 1995, Ien won a Radio Television Digital News Association Award for her news serial Journey to Freedom, a look at the Underground Railroad. In 2008, she was the recipient of the Black Business and Professional Association Harry Jerome Award in the media category. In 2014, she was granted the Planet Africa Award for excellence in media. In 2015, Ien garnered a Canadian Screen Award nomination in the Best Host category for her work on Canada AM. In 2016, she was honored with an African Canadian Achievement Award for her journalistic achievements.
It was while Marci Ien was still a professional broadcaster (CHCH-TV in Hamilton and on CTV’s The Social and Canada AM 1991 - 2020) that the idea of moving to politics slowly began to dawn her. Being a woman of colour gave her reportage a unique perspective and platform to both comment on what was happening, and to help shape an image of a positive and successful person of colour operating in the public spere.
Marci Ien’s entry into politics is precipitated by the vacancy left by the resignation of Bill Morneau (17 August 2020) the previous Liberal Member of Parliament for the riding of Toronto Centre. Born in St. Jamestown, the character of the downtown east side was all too familiar to Marci, and she knew that this was a community she could represent. In the recent interview she did with RPTV News, Marci Ien described the neighbourhood as, “diverse in every single way … there is socio-economic diversity, race, origin, ethnicity … but I would call it eclectic, diverse, beautiful.”
As the new MP for the riding Toronto Centre (which includes Moss Park, Regent Park, Cabbage Town, Church-Wellesley Village, and St. Jamestown), Marci Ien is keenly aware that the coronavirus pandemic has drawn out the systemic inequalities that underscore the lives of many low-income people, indigenous people, immigrants, homeless people and people living with mental health and substance abuse issues. Attending to these matters Marci intends to continue listening to what her constituents are saying to her, to pool the resources of many of the already existing social service providers, and to better channel initiatives that might be coming from Federal, Provincial, and Municipal coffers to the hard-hit neighbourhoods of the area.
In today’s political landscape The Black Lives Matter Movement has become a pivotal point for politicians to contend with, as a woman of colour and now MP, Marci Ien has a long history of dedication to challenging the representation of Black people in the public roles. She lists her own thirty-year career in journalism and its many firsts, such as the first Black woman to co-host a national morning show. And furthermore, it is her lived experience as a Black woman that motivates her to keep the concerns of race front and center at all times.
By Dimitrije Martinovic
Dimitrije is a staff at FOCUS MEDIA ARTS CENTRE