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Halton MP proud of her time in office, but not seeking re-election due to abuse, threats

Damoff was first elected in 2015, and has since been subjected to repeated abuse and harassment that she said is present in both parliament and public
Oakville North-Burlington MP Pam Damoff doesn't know what she'll do next, but it isn't politics

Pam Damoff is getting out of politics, and won't be running for re-election as Oakville North-Burlington MP. 

Damoff was elected in 2015 in less-than-ideal circumstances, after the Liberal party candidate and Oakville Ward 6 councillor Max Khan passed away a few months prior to the election, leaving a vacancy that had to be filled quickly. Since winning her seat, Damoff says, she has been subjected to harassment, abuse and threats that have led her decision to leave politics behind. 

“There’s been a change of tone in Parliament, and in public,” Damoff said. “It’s changed for the worse over the last eight years, and especially since the pandemic.”

She added the staff in her office receive so many threats through email and phone that they require their own dedicated folder. 

“We have to hang up on some people, and the amount that we get now is through the roof compared to the first four years,” Damoff said. 

Damoff did not make the decision after one specific incident, she says, but rather after years of continued abuse. After speaking with the Prime Minister and her family, she felt it was time to announce her decision publicly a few weeks ago. 

MP urges people to call out harassment wherever they see it

She hopes that people will continue to call out harassment in public. 

“The vast majority of Canadians are good and decent people who don’t act like this,” Damoff said. “I think there’s a lot of intimidation and bullying that happens, and people ignore it when they see it happening. That includes when a cashier is being yelled at because someone didn’t get service quick enough, or you’re in the hospital and an emergency room nurse is being assaulted.”

Despite the continued challenges, Damoff has been busy, launching the Young Women in Leadership Program in Oakville and Burlington, which partners students with mentors to get job experience. 

In Ottawa, she has been helping with charitable initiatives for cancer research and domestic violence. 

“Some of these things wouldn’t have happened if I were not involved,” Damoff said. “There’s lots of things that I’m really proud of that the government has done.”

Specifically, Damoff mentioned helping to fund the Terry Fox Research Institute’s Marathon of Hope, providing $150 million in funding in 2019, and aiding in passing Keira’s Law, which came into effect following the death of four-year-old Keira Kagan. Damoff added the law, which requires judges to be educated on course of control and domestic violence is a highlight of her political career. 

There are things that she didn’t accomplish that Damoff looks back on and wishes would have panned out more, however. 

“I wish we’d put more money in the Canada Disability Benefit, I won’t lie,” Damoff said. “We got funding in the budget, it was the single largest item in the budget, but it is still only $200 a month, which is not very much for people who are living in poverty.”

With a few years left until she leaves office, Damoff has yet to decide where she’ll go or what she’ll do, nor does she have any indication of who is expected to take over as the Oakville North-Burlington Liberal candidate. 

In the nine years – so far – that she’s been MP, Damoff acknowledges it has been hard but she knows she has helped people. 

“I’ve loved being able to do this and know that I’ve made a difference for people, particularly young women,” she said. “Not only those who come up to me to thank me for something I’ve done like the youth council. Some members have stayed in touch, and watching what they’ve been up to, the notes they’ve sent since I announced I’m not running, it sounds corny – but it's a privilege to do this job and I have loved being the MP.”

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Chris Arnold

About the Author: Chris Arnold

Chris Arnold has worked as a journalist for half a decade, covering national news, entertainment, arts, education, and local features
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