Anjali Appadurai wants government to engage more with grassroots organizations and focus less on private interests if elected leader of the BC NDP.
Appadurai joined the BC NDP leadership race after David Eby, MLA for UBC and West Point Grey and former attorney general and minister responsible for housing, announced his bid to replace departing leader and BC Premier John Horgan. Eby is the presumed front runner with the support of many high-profile MLAs. Appadurai ran as a federal NDP candidate in the Vancouver-Granville riding in 2021, losing narrowly to Liberal Taleeb Noorhmohamed.
In an interview with The Ubyssey, Appadurai criticized what she saw as an “austerity type of approach to public wellness” that BC governments have taken by not investing enough in a public safety net to address crises.
A central theme of her platform is moving away from private interests on issues like health care, housing and the climate crisis.
“When you create a system that produces private interest, it never produces good outcomes for the people who need those systems the most,” she said.
Appadurai said a key factor in her decision to run was not seeing the government planning to "tackle the climate crisis at scale." She has worked as a climate advocate in international and Canadian organizations.
If elected leader, Appadurai said she would work to gain grassroots policy input beyond the traditional party structure, which would include engagement with youth-led groups.
“We need to restructure our democracy so that there’s more participation from social movements … young people are a huge piece of that, especially when it comes to climate issues,” she said.
To tackle the toxic drug crisis, Appadurai said a safe supply is an essential first step. She said current safe supply programs are “nowhere near adequate.”
Once safe supply is in place, she said student groups have a role to play in supporting those struggling with substance use by engaging community members, particularly those in the Downtown Eastside (DTES).
“There is so much potential for community activity, for events and for things that bring the community together … that sends a signal that [DTES residents] haven’t just been abandoned.”
On affordability of higher education, Appadurai believes the current system needs reform to better serve students. While she did not cite any specific policies she would change, she said her end goal would be universal, free public education.
There is a review currently underway examining how the province funds universities, which some have called a potential step to improving affordability.
“I believe that our policy direction on [education] should always be moving towards that, towards as low barrier as we can achieve … It’s a huge issue that tuition costs are going up the way they are,” she said.
On September 8, the BC NPD announced Appadurai was under investigation for a possible breach of the BC Election Act after appearing on an Instagram live where Atiya Jaffar offered to pay for others' NDP membership fees. Appadurai said Jaffar misspoke and that she is cooperating with the investigation.
BC NDP members can vote in the leadership election starting November 13.