It started in high school.
As an immigrant, Anjali Appadurai says she was trying to “make my story of the world make sense.” And so, she ended up starting a Global Issues Club while at Gleneagle Secondary.
They were high school kids talking about international humanitarian crises.
“That’s kind of where my activism started,” Appadurai says.
At the time, she says she didn’t think much about the climate, focusing instead on what she held to be more press humanitarian issues. But while in college, she came to view climate change as, “the ultimate humanitarian issue.”
Appadurai was in college when she spoke at a U.N. climate change conference. Her speech, which was followed with chants of “Get it done!” was largely an argument that what was seen as radical was necessary and that what was seen as politically possible would result in irreversible damage.
At the outset of her UN speech, she said she was speaking on behalf of youth delegates as well as what she called the “silent majority.”
More than a decade later, Appadurai is still trying to speak for what she views as the under-represented.
Discussing her reasons for running, she cited the Coastal GasLink pipeline and what she called: “a very large number of British Columbians who don’t feel represented by the direction of the current government.”
B.C. attorney general David Eby announced his candidacy for the NDP leadership in July, with some observers suggesting he holds a “commanding position.”
Appadurai has been criticized for running for NDP leadership despite not having held office. She lost the Vancouver Granville riding in the 2021 federal election by 258 votes.
While years in office aid a candidate’s understanding of the political machine, that shouldn’t be the only consideration, according to Appadurai.
“The people with a lot of political experience haven’t really gotten us to a very good place,” she said.
There are fundamental problems with the decision-making priorities of many of B.C.’s elected officials, particularly when it comes to climate change, according to Appadurai.
“They view climate as one issue alongside other issues of equal importance,” she said. “There’s no sign from this current administration that they actually intend to do anything serious about it.”
Climate change should be viewed as the “overarching framework” within which all government decisions are made, she said, noting the death toll from last year’s heat dome.
While Appadurai said she and party frontrunner David Eby agree that urgent action is needed to address the housing crisis, Appadurai puts a greater emphasis on public housing.
Appadurai has previously described public ownership as a key policy tool.
Speaking at a Just Transition event earlier this year that envisioned lower emissions, reduce inequality and create jobs, Appadurai focused her remarks on public ownership.
“When a corporation is publicly owned, you don’t see the price gouging, serial layoffs and relentless quest for profit above all that you see with private monopolies,” she said.
While observers have questioned both her chances and her qualifications, Appadurai is adamant that she’s not running to change the conversation but to win the nomination.
“It’s good for the party and good for democracy as a whole to have [the leadership campaign] not be a coronation but have it be an actual race.”
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