I’ve been an Ontario Liberal my entire adult life. I’ve volunteered on local campaigns, worked at Queen’s Park, and worked on central campaigns. The choice the party has to make on November 25 and 26 is an important one for me, for many reasons.
For me, the biggest reason is personal. Twenty years ago, when I got my first job at Queen’s Park shortly after we won the 2003 election, I was in a staff meeting of about 100 Liberal MPPs' staff. I looked around the room, and apart from me, there was one other person of colour.
Over time, that number went up. We’ve seen more minorities elected and promoted to cabinet, and more minorities take on senior positions as political and campaign staff. We haven’t seen an immigrant and visible minority as leader of a major political party in Ontario.
It’s time to break that barrier. It’s time to elect a leader who represents all of Ontario — the one in three of us born outside this country, the many of us who speak a language other than English at home, and the millions of us who have never seen someone who looks like them in a position of power.
I’ve known Yasir for years. Like me and so many others who look like me, he’s had to work three times as hard as anyone else to get to where he is. Like me, he’s heard the subtle comments about his funny-sounding name and about how surprisingly good his English is. Like me, he’s been consistently underestimated — whether he was running for MPP in 2007 and the party establishment wanted someone else, or when he was running to be an MP in 2021 and the party establishment was calling for him to move aside for higher profile options.
Leaving aside how much representation matters, that drive is why I think Yasir is the best leader for the Ontario Liberal Party right now: only he has the political instincts, the experience, the grit, the integrity and the work ethic to transform our party so we are ready to defeat Doug Ford in 2026.
Yasir has never been shy about challenging the status quo or pushing through the establishment’s expectations. Throughout this campaign, he has championed bold, pragmatic Liberal solutions. He’s called for universal coverage for mental health and addictions care; he’s promised to phase out dirty natural gas-powered electricity generation; he’s promised to accredit internationally trained professionals like doctors and nurses faster so they can build their lives here and provide much-needed relief to our health-care system; he’s pledged to implement hard classroom caps and implement free tuition for modest income households; and he’s promised to take big money and influence out of our politics.
I believe Yasir can lead our party to form a government that can actually get big things done because he’s not afraid to stand up for what’s right and work hard to do it. Perhaps that’s why some in the establishment are so opposed to his success.
When the party establishment tries to tell us that the outcome is inevitable they are saying that the more than 31,000 members signed up by Yasir’s campaign don't know what's good for us. We shouldn't have a say in who wins. That is offensive. And it is especially offensive to immigrants, to women, to religious minorities, and young people who are constantly being told to stay in our place.
Yasir represents an important moment for our province and our party. He doesn’t look like the leaders that have come before him. Our party membership has broken barriers before, and so I’m asking you to do that again. To join with us in marking Yasir as your first choice and make history. To say we will not sit down and roll over because the establishment wishes it to be so.
Voting for Yasir is voting against the status quo. It’s voting for the change our party and our province so desperately need. Underestimating him is underestimating every immigrant kid who looks like us, who knows what it means to work three times as hard, as we always have, just to get a fair shake.
I’m asking you to do that again: to join us and make history. To choose a leader who will break the status quo instead of reinforcing it. Who will work harder and longer for you, for our party and for everyone in Ontario.
Vote Yasir. Let’s make history, Ontario.
Fahim Kaderdina is deputy director of the Yasir Naqvi campaign for Ontario Liberal Party leadership. He served as chief of staff to former Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa and in many senior roles at Queen’s Park from 2003 to 2014.