A 22-year-old Canadian Filipino is running to become a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in British Columbia. Jane Spitz, a political science major at the University of British Columbia (UBC),was acclaimed as the B.C. Liberal Party candidate for Vancouver-Hastings.
“I’ve spent years on campus empowering the youth to participate in our democracy. I’m excited to be a voice for them in this election,” Spitz said.
Born in Samar, an island in central Philippines, Spitz, along with her parents and two older brothers, moved to Coquitlam, B.C. in 2001. “When I was seven, my parents decided they wanted to give us a brighter future, so we migrated to Canada,” she said.
At an early age, Spitz willingly volunteered her time for different causes: from athletics to student organizations to teaching children to read. She regularly offered her services at the Ronald McDonald House, a facility for seriously ill children.
Spitz finished high school at the Centennial Secondary in 2012, and grade school at the R.C. McDonald Elementary School in Coquitlam.
Spitz found her passion for politics as a UBC student leader when she became an advocate for sustainable development and conservation. She minored in environment and society at UBC.
The campus politician is the outgoing president of a student-led organization that empowers youth in politics. She has likewise served on UBC’s official campus newspaper, The Ubyssey, as a member of the board of directors.
During the 2015 federal election, she volunteered locally and interned for a B.C. Member of Parliament in Ottawa, Cathy Mcleod. “I am eager to continue this momentum into the 2017 BC provincial election,” she said.
“I’m running because I think this election is a really important choice – we have to choose if we want a strong, growing province where people can achieve their dreams and get ahead by working hard. Also, as a young person, I support the party’s efforts to help more people buy a home, keep more of their paycheck, and build a strong economy that creates good jobs," she posted on her Facebook page.
One of the challenges in this campaign, according to Spitz, is people’s perception of young individuals wanting to run in politics.
“Running as a youth can be viewed as bittersweet in regard to associating age with inexperience. I believe I possess the drive and work ethic necessary to do the job to the best of my abilities," she said.
She finds inspiration in her family and the incredible women in her party who can take the lead and be in politics. Spitz is excited to give a voice to the Canadian-Filipino community and to bring to the table the issues close to the hearts of Filipino immigrants like her.
“I’m very much immersed in Filipino culture,” she claimed. She said she doesn’t get to visit the Philippines as much but wants to spend time there once she graduates.
Spitz’s long-term plans include working in sustainable politics and traveling to developing countries and working in development and aid.