Laura Mae Lindo joins UW philosophy faculty


Former Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo has officially joined the philosophy faculty at UW. 

As a member of the New Democratic Party, Lindo was elected in 2018 and served until her resignation earlier this month, which will trigger a byelection call within the next six months.

Back in January, Lindo announced her intention to resign, citing overnight childcare costs as one of the factors in her decision. She explained that these costs are not covered by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and that as a single mother of three traveling back and forth to Queen’s Park, the financial burden would be unmanageable.

Lindo also spoke about the lack of knowledge that both citizens and politicians have when it comes to these costs. After being elected, Lindo said that the party had assumed these expenses were covered, and that many members of the public were surprised as well. “[If we want] to have a democratic system that represents the nuances of being human in the world, [we have to] look at what these everyday barriers are to having those folks represent us at Queen’s Park,” she said, explaining that getting people on the ballot is not enough to “change the face of democracy”.

Before leaving office, Lindo drafted legislation which would address these childcare costs by allowing members who qualify for housing allowance to also be granted overnight childcare benefits. Lindo also worked to gain co-sponsors for other bills created while in office — such as the Seniors’ Advocate and Racial Equity in the Education System acts — so that advocacy work can continue. “I’ve always said . . . I actually don’t care whose name is on the bill. I just want the problem solved,” Lindo noted. 

Starting this month, Lindo officially became a faculty member at UW. She will teach courses in philosophy and gender and social justice, including a course on the philosophy of education in the upcoming fall semester, and a course on women and pop culture in the winter. “It’s an opportunity for me to make real on some of the thinking that was happening when I was elected,” she said of the education course. Writing the Racial Equity in the Education System Act left Lindo thinking about the role and purpose of education, as well as the barriers that exist in the system.

Lindo went on to emphasize the importance of education when it comes to gender and social justice, especially in the wake of hate-motivated violence like the June 28 stabbing at Hagey Hall. “Our campuses were meant to be spaces of resistance,” she said. “They were meant to be spaces where we take seriously [the] issues that are happening in the world, and try and find solutions to them.”

She also explained that the relationship between social justice education and safety is not new, and that those in the field have had to consistently grapple with this concept. “For a lot of practitioners like me, like I’m a Black woman doing this kind of work. We have often lived on the edge of safety . . . It’s just right now more people are coming out to recognise that it was dangerous to begin with, and it will remain dangerous,” Lindo said. 

Lindo says that it’s “crucially important” to continue teaching these topics, but that it’s just as important for the education systems to support these discussions. She explained that administrators and leaders will need to challenge the political umbrella that universities and colleges operate under, in order to support the dialogues happening in classrooms. New course content — especially that which addresses current societal issues — is often at risk of being cut, Lindo said. 

According to Lindo, the political system says that freedom of speech supersedes addressing hate, and therefore administrators must work to stand up to hate and hate speech. “Even if you took all the courses out, these topics come up,” she stated. 

Lindo also wanted to recognize those within the gender and social justice faculty, who she says helped to onboard her only days after the Hagey stabbing. She says that she’s proud and humbled to have been invited into navigating the faculty’s future, and that everyone involved has been “gracious and kind and courageous.” 

“We sometimes forget that a lot of healing can happen when you acknowledge people’s kindness and courage in the face of this level of hate,” she said.

To learn more about the courses that Lindo will be teaching, visit the faculty websites for philosophy and gender and social justice.