Graphic depicting event details for our #TSPNTalks event with Councillor Jennifer McKelvie.

#TSPNTalks: Toronto City Councillor Jennifer McKelvie talks about “The Future We Want”

On Thursday 23rd January 2020, the Toronto Science Policy Network hosted Councillor Jennifer McKelvie at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus, in a TSPN Talk titled “The Future We Want”. McKelvie is currently the City Councillor for Ward 25 (Scarborough-Rouge Park) and has a background in geology.

McKelvie’s #TSPNTalk centered around her story from scientist to politician, and illuminated some key lessons along the way. Her passion for politics started at the age of 10 when she tried to fight to protect her local green area. Although she was unsuccessful, this was just the beginning of her political career. She went on to complete a PhD in Environmental Science at the University of Toronto, and later worked at the Nuclear Waste Management Organization as a senior scientist. In 2014, she ran for municipal elections and lost. However this did not deter her, and she ran again in 2018, becoming one of two people to topple an incumbent in that election.

As a city councillor, McKelvie’s scientific background has shaped her approach to politics. Not only in fostering grit and determination — as seen in her path to City Council, but also through her evidence-based lens to policy-making. She emphasizes the importance of peer reviewing policies with other jurisdictions, and quoted Michael Bloomberg, who said that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t change it.” McKelvie pointed out that the title of her talk, “The Future We Want” is actually adapted from the C40 cities conference on how it is imperative that cities work together to mitigate the problem of climate change.

McKelvie summarised three key messages from her talk as:

1. Grit is everything.

2. We are in this together — the scientific and political community.

3. To tell compelling stories.

TSPN would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who came out to attend our #TSPNTalks, and we are incredibly thankful to have had Councillor McKelvie come and share her compelling story. In addition, this #TSPNTalks event was generously sponsored by the Graduate Students’ Association at Scarborough (GSAS).

For those who were unable to attend, you can check out our Twitter recap thread and the live stream here.

This post was written by Maegan Ong.

The Toronto Science Policy Network (TSPN) aims to provide a platform for students (graduate and undergraduate), as well as post-doctoral researchers, to learn more about and engage in science policy. Sign up for our mailing list to stay in the loop about TSPN’s upcoming events. Read about our previous events on our Medium page here.

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