Maryam Monsef is the Member of Parliament for Peterborough—Kawartha, and Canada’s Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development.
Maryam has called Peterborough home since 1996. She takes pride in doing politics differently and serving the community that has supported her and her family. When she is not hard at work for the people of Peterborough—Kawartha and Canada, you can find Maryam spending time with her family and enjoying all that our area has to offer, including its natural beauty and vibrant communities and businesses.
Maryam has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Trent University. She has worked at Trent, as well as Fleming College. She ran for mayor of Peterborough in 2014 and has worked with local organizations including the YWCA of Peterborough and Halliburton Board of Directors, the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, and the New Canadians Centre. Maryam is multilingual, speaking English, Farsi and Dari, and continues to work on her French.
Maryam was elected to represent the riding as a Liberal member of the House of Commons in October 2015. The first Afghan-Canadian in Canadian parliamentary history, she was named Minister of Democratic Institutions, becoming one of the youngest Canadians to ever be appointed to a Ministry, and the first Muslim to serve in Cabinet.
Throughout her term as Peterborough—Kawartha’s Member of Parliament, Maryam has made tangible progress on a number of local priorities. She has secured nearly a half a billion dollars in federal funding investments towards key initiatives such as 1,700+ units of housing, Trent University’s Bata Library and Cleantech Commons, and the Canadian Canoe Museum. She has also announced $600 million for upgrades to the Trent-Severn Waterway, secured millions of dollars in funding for major transit upgrades, and has led the way in connecting thousands of local households to high-speed internet. She has been a strong advocate for the return of passenger rail service to Peterborough, and now, VIA Rail is on track to bringing a stop to Peterborough as part of the proposed Toronto to Quebec City high frequency rail line.
In line with her commitment to do politics differently, she has hosted more than 40 roundtables and town halls with people in the community.
As a member of Cabinet, Maryam has made her mark on Canada-wide policy change. Among her early work as a Minister included being at the forefront of changing how Canadians become a part of the Senate, announcing the establishment of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. To date, the Advisory Board has led to more than 60 independent, merit-based appointments of distinguished Canadians.
After Maryam was sworn in as Minister of Status of Women in January 2017, she introduced Canada’s first-ever Strategy to Prevent Gender-Based Violence. She led the transformation of the Status of Women from a federal agency to a full-fledged government department, the Department for Women and Gender Equality (WAGE), for the first time since it was created more than 40 years ago. That means more support for women’s groups and organizations than ever before. In addition, she worked with the Finance Minister on Budget 2018 which was the first ever to go through a full gender-based analysis. Maryam has served as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Reconciliation, as well as the Cabinet Committee on Growing the Middle Class and Inclusion. She also served on the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee that worked to welcome more than 50,000 Syrians fleeing civil war to Canada.
In addition to her role as Minister for Women and Gender Equality, she briefly served as Minister of International Development from March to October 2019. In December of that year, she was appointed Canada’s Minister of Rural Economic Development. In November 2020, she launched the Universal Broadband Fund that is helping to connect Canadians across the country to high-speed internet. She is working tirelessly towards realizing the goal of connecting 98 per cent of Canadians by 2026, and all Canadians by 2030.
Peterborough—Kawartha was first formed and contested in 2015. It is made up of five rural townships: Douro-Dummer, Selwyn, Trent Lakes, North Kawartha, and Havelock-Belmont-Methuen, the City of Peterborough, and Curve Lake First Nation. Peterborough—Kawartha is a special place for many reasons.
Peterborough and the Kawarthas have a long history. Indigenous Peoples, including the Michi Saggig Anishinaabe, have inhabited and taken care of Nogojiwanong for thousands of years. Today, Peterborough is a city with immense talent, vibrance, and diversity, with people from over 50% of the world's countries calling it home. Our two world class educational institutions, Fleming College and Trent University, attract talent from around the world, and are at the forefront of excellence in science, research, and innovation. Additionally, we are home to many startups, established local businesses, and vital community organizations.
The Kawarthas is known for its natural beauty, having become a favourite destination of tourists from across Canada and around the world. Our region is home to numerous dining experiences, accommodations, events and festivals, and more. In addition, we have a robust agriculture sector that supports many local jobs, drives tourism, and provides locally-grown food.
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