Between Pauline and Brock Avenues, 1202 Bloor Street West in Toronto has become a sort of Canadian Luso / Latin American affairs office. The movement is even greater on Fridays and on weekends, as the possibility of meeting in person with Davenport’s House of Commons representative, MP Julie Dzerowicz, increases.
Juliana Roma “Julie” Dzerowicz, daughter of an immigrant couple, was born in Toronto and has lived for over 20 years in Davenport, a region of Portuguese and Latino immigrants and home to most of Canada’s Brazilian community.
In 2015, she was the first woman to be elected MP in Davenport. And in the 2019 elections, Julie Dzerowicz was re-elected by the Liberal Party with 43.6% of the vote.
A graduate of the London Business School and McGill and British Columbia Universities, she was a member of the Standing Committee on National Defense and the Environment Committee and chairs the Immigration and Refugee Policy Convention. Last year, in recognition of her contributions to strengthening Brazil-Canada bilateral relations, Julie received one of Brazil’s highest awards, the Order of the Rio Branco Medal.
Wave – After working so many years in finance and public office, how did you decide to get into politics? And why did you choose the Liberal Party?
Julie – I’ve wanted to be in politics since I was 10 years old. For me, it was a way to give back to the country that gave my family a new home. And the reason that I chose the Liberal Party is because of the Party’s values that align with my fundamental values of equality, opportunity and freedom.
Wave – Among other areas, you have been paying special attention to gender equality issues and attending numerous international meetings on the topic. What is women’s participation in Canadian society like today?
Julie – Women’s participation in Canadian society today is the best that it has ever been before. Our government has made major new investments that focus on gender equality and the full empowerment of women and girls, such as funding 50 local projects with over $18 million to support women leaders across the country through the Funding to Advance Gender Equality program, appointed Canada’s first-ever gender-balanced cabinet, introduced Bill C-75, which toughens criminal laws of domestic assault, launched the first-ever Federal Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence, and launched Canada’s first Feminist International Assistance Policy with $2 billion over five years, among others. Our work on gender equality has made us a beacon of light in the world. But we have so much more to do, especially in achieving true equality for women’s participation on executive boards, politics and in STEM.
Wave – You have been present in various activities of the Brazilian, Portuguese and Latin American communities. What is your relationship and work with immigrants like, especially undocumented workers?
Julie – I am the daughter of immigrant parents; my mother still doesn’t speak English that well, but has contributed so much to Canadian society. I have a soft spot for immigrants and I believe that they have contributed to the great country that we have today.
Wave – As one of the representatives of the Brazilian community in Ottawa, you actively participate in bilateral relations between our countries. Could you give our readers an idea of the relationship between Brazil and Canada and what can still be done?
Julie – The relationship between Canada and Brazil has always been a very deep relationship, and there is lots of room for it to grow. Canada has spent $15 million to help Brazil combat the fires in the Amazon rainforest, as well as offered the use of Canadian water bombers to fight the wildfires. We also are actively in talks with MERCOSUR about a possible free trade agreement. But it’s a relationship that needs lots of work and attention.
Wave – Canada has been, in recent years, one of the most sought after countries by Brazilians. What is your message to Brazilians who have chosen Canada for their second home?
Julie – My message to Brazilians who have chosen Canada for their second home would be that Canada is a country where no matter where you come from, what the color of your skin is, what your religion is, or how much money you have, if you dream big and work hard, Canada is a place where you can achieve your full potential and your dreams.