MBE: : Mr. Chen we would like to start off by congratulating you and your party’s recently formed government. Can you please start this interview off by telling us how your first experience in the government went and how the first six months have been?
MP Shaun Chen: My first experience was when I stepped into the Parliament for my swearing-in ceremony last November. It was strong feeling of humbleness, responsibility, and a sense of direction after the campaign. I was joined by a group of supporters, volunteers and young people who had worked with me. That was most important to me, having the people that made it possible for me to be elected present with me that day. My favorite picture of that day was taken with me and a dozen youth from local high schools after I took my oath of office. For me that was a reminder of myself growing up in Scarborough, getting involved in the community and chairing the Scarborough Youth Council. Making a positive difference in the lives of others is why I chose to be in public service. My first six months as an MP has truly been a whirlwind. We have focused on the mandate that Canadians have given us. It is humbling to be part of the incredible change in our country.
MBE: Shaun as you are one of the youngest MP’s in the current government you will certainly be looked up to by the current youth that is looking to get involved in politics and government. Can you shed light on how important education is in growing up and what is your specific message for the current youth that is looking up to you as a role model?
MP Shaun Chen:I have always believed that education is a social equalizer. It allows us to achieve what perhaps the previous generation was not able to. My parents are Hakka Chinese who were born and raised in India, and they moved to Canada in the 1970’s. My parents never got the chance to go to university because when they came to Canada, building up a new life meant working hard, putting food on the table and paying the bills. They worked really hard to ensure that I had the opportunities they did not have. I experienced their struggles, and that is why I developed a strong work ethic, growing up as a child of an immigrant family. That is why I am very proud of the work our government is doing to help the next generation succeed. Too many young people are graduating and not finding work in the right fields, ending up getting contract or temporary work. Our Prime Minister is also the Minister for Youth, and that says a lot about the priorities of our government.
MBE:How is this current government going to help stimulate the economy and in particular how can we expect the government to help smaller and mid-size businesses.
MP Shaun Chen:Our government realizes that small and medium-size businesses are the bedrock of our economy. We are supporting these businesses by growing the economy. The importance of these businesses can be seen in our riding of Scarborough North, which is home to lively small businesses. As a government we have committed an additional $60 billion for infrastructure in order to stimulate the economy. We will make investments in public infrastructure, transit, affordable housing, community centres and also green initiatives. All these projects will come out of this new funding, creating many new jobs and also at the same time making a meaningful impact on our communities. Our middle-class income tax cut and new Canada Child Benefit will also help many Canadian families. When Canadians succeed, so do Canadian businesses.
MBE:Mr. Chen your government has stressed a lot of importance on the equal rights of women. This can be seen primarily in how your party has decided to make an equal number of women and men in Cabinet. Moving forward how is your party using this as example so that in all walks of life and business we have similar equality?
MP Shaun Chen:Our Prime Minister has made it a priority to promote gender equality, and I am very proud of the changes we have made. When the cabinet was announced, there were equal women and men for the first time in our history. Moving forward, we will continue to address issues concerning the rights of women. For example, the inquiry into the cases of missing aboriginal women and girls is an issue being taken very seriously by our government. I would like us to also highlight issues with respect to women in the workplace. Research shows that women more often than not are paid less than men for the same work. This is not right, and we must address this and other issues in advancing the gender equality in our country.
MBE: Mr. Chen apart from politics and work how do you like spending your time? Any hobbies or particular activities you enjoy during your time off?
MP Shaun Chen:I love to travel and experience different cultures. I enjoy different types of food. Growing up a Canadian of Hakka Chinese descent and Indian heritage in an increasingly multicultural city, my background and upbringing allowed me to experience what it is like to be a global citizen. Although I do not have much free time with my new role, I hope to be able to continue traveling and spending time with family and friends.
MBE: To finish this interview can you please give a personal message for our readers.
MP Shaun Chen: I would like to say that change is neither quick nor easy, but together with the community we can work hard to make a difference. It is by finding common ground that we can make positive changes to make Canada an even better place.