Abhijeet Manay is the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario and is running to be the first Green MPP of Beaches-East York. He has constantly been a voice for decency, justice, and sustainability in Ontario politics and has been a strong advocate for affordable housing, small businesses and a guaranteed livable income.
The day 14 year old Abhijeet Manay stepped off his flight from Mumbai was the day he saw snow for the first time. It was cold and everything was new. Fast forward to today, at age 31, and Manay is the Deputy Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, has a Master’s Degree in Education from OISE, designs and teaches courses for supporting students with developmental disabilities, and is already knocking on doors in Beaches-East York for the next provincial election.
Immigrant success stories in multi-cultural Toronto aren’t new, but each is always unique. Manay has always been interested in politics, and isn't shy to put forward his own perspective, inspired by the environmental stewardship of his childhood.
However, Manay will tell you that the Green Party policy platform is not just about the environment. It encompasses everything Governments are responsible for; from the economy to health care, housing, education, national security, and more. But he says that unlike other parties, the Green Party recognizes almost everything governments do is in some way entangled with the environment. If we are going to successfully deal with the climate crisis it is going to take a clearly thought out plan of action to achieve it. If Ontario voters were to elect even just a few more Green MPPs, the Party could quite possibly hold the balance of power on these issues. Ensuring the environment and other progressive policies would be front and center.
I think collaboration has far more constructive, longer lasting effects than relentless confrontation, and that’s what we need if we are going to really deal with the climate crisis. Its urgent.
While growing up in India his personal hero was his politician grandfather, Gopal Manay. Gopal was an elected member of the Indian Parliament and a tireless fighter against India’s caste system. He was himself a Dalit - the lowest and most abused caste in the system. Despite this, Gopal was successfully elected for his first two of three campaigns. Unlike many retired Indian politicians, he didn’t retire rich, says Manay, “My Grandfather was one of those rare politicians who never took a dime from anyone”.
Manay says he’s always been interested in politics, but being the new kid at school in a new country makes the idea of running for student council seem like a non-starter. “I was too timid. I saw the people running for student president and thought who would vote for me? The immigrant kid from India who has maybe a few friends. I didn’t feel I really belonged yet”. It took until he was at university for that to change. But instead of student politics he called up his local Liberal MPP and volunteered. Quickly he learned the ropes and soon was hired to work in the local constituency office. But gradually his relationship with the Liberal Party soured.
I felt myself becoming jaded and cynical with the culture surrounding politics. I began to see [it] as a machine that minimizes people.
The breaking point came in 2017 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reneged on his promise to reform the Canadian electoral system, which critics say doesn’t properly reflect how people vote. If the number of votes each Party received in that election had determined the distribution of seats, the Liberals would not have won a majority government. The Conservatives would have had 109 seats instead of 99, the NDP 67 instead of 44, the Green Party 12 instead of 1, and the Bloc Quebecois 16 instead of 12. So Manay decided to look for a new Party. At first he considered the NDP, he says, “I liked many of its policies but didn’t like its negative tactics. Even to this day, the NDP’s approach to politics is that everything has to be done with anger and confrontation”.
So he joined the Green Party. In part because he had always been a Green without realizing it. Manay’s father was an engineer and worked for Godrej - one of India's most progressive Corporations. Godrej manufactures everything from bath soaps to jet engines but what makes it exceptional is its promotion of environmental stewardship. His parents enrolled him in the Godrej school where the curriculum is rooted in environmentalism. He and his classmates regularly went to the nearby mangrove forest for clean-up drives where they planted trees and were taught how the mangroves protected them from cyclones and soil erosion. In addition to its focus on the environment, Manay says he found that the Green Party’s inclusive approach to politics was more like his own.