In the June (2004) federal elections,
Don Valley East was one of the closely watched
contests. Yasmin Ratansi won as Liberal Party
candidates Don Valley East in Toronto, Ontario
Yasmin Ratansi, 53, remembers when her detractors
wrote her off as 'Muslim', 'woman', 'immigrant'.
She says, "To people who like to label
others I say: Canada is a land of opportunities.
So work hard and make things work for yourself.
I took things as a challenge. I always remembered
what my father used to say - 'Struggle is the
meaning of life, victory is not in your hands'."
Ratansi came to Canada in 1974 as a university
graduate from England. Born in Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania, she is a third generation South Asian
living out of Asia. Her grandparents migrated
to Africa from the Kutch region in Gujarat,
India. She says, "When I came to Canada,
I realized this is a country which offers rich
diversity. I fit in well. I was an Asian born
in Africa who went to study in former colonialist
England, and was a Muslim. With such diversity
inside me, Canada was a natural place to settle
and since my move here I have never considered
myself as anything but Canadian." The 53-year-old
MP, who has never married, says the young people
she met through her volunteer work have
become her family.
Fourteen years after coming to Canada, Ratansi
stood for federal elections but lost. She persevered
for 15 more years to run again from the same
constituency of Don Valley East in Toronto,
Ontario. The fight was tough with the Conservative
Party having fielded a heavyweight former Cabinet
minister, David Johnson. But Ratansi emerged
She was Vice-Chair on the Clarke Institute
of Psychiatry Foundation, Treasurer on the National
Council of Ethnic Business and Professional
Association, and Treasurer for the Institute
of Certified Management Consultants of Ontario.
She has served as a consultant to community-based
programs on economic planning, international
trade and financing of micro-based businesses.
A Certified General Accountant and Management
Consultant, Ms. Ratansi worked in the private
sector with public accounting firms, Laventhol
and Venture Edge Consulting. She joined the
Ontario public sector in 1995 and has managed
billions of dollars in public funds ensuring
accountability and proper management of tax
dollars. Ratansi comes across as a confident
person. She asserts, "I have never looked
at politics as a male domain and have never
considered my fight different because I am a
woman. I have taken things as a challenge. As
an MP, I feel that I am sensitive to certain
issues because I am a woman.
Inspired by the late Right Hon. Pierre Trudeau,
Ms. Ratansi joined the Liberal Party and volunteered
in many election campaigns at the federal and