|When Paul Dewars university
friends used to tell him hed run for political office one
day, he kept mum on the subject.
But now, the 42-year-old former schoolteacher who insists he
doesnt plan things in advance is the NDP candidate
in Ottawa Centre, seeking to fill the shoes of retiring MP Ed
Dewar was born and raised in Ottawa, part of a family with a
long history in community, church and local politics.
I was socialized as a Catholic, but believe in social democratic
values, NDP values, Dewar says during an interview in his
As a self-described progressive Catholic, Dewar says he has concerns
about the churchs position on same sex marriage, womens
rights and birth control. He has attended the First United Church
for the past four years.
Dewar says his mother former Ottawa mayor and federal
MP Marion Dewar has been the inspiration for some of the
core values and interests he holds dear. But he also credits
his father Ken Dewar with shaping his formative years.
Dewars parents were well known to the local priest, who
sent people in need to the Dewar household for food and protection.
The family gave sanctuary to U.S. draft dodgers during the Vietnam
War and also took in aboriginal citizens in need of help and
hungry children. For several years, Dewars family cared
for a malnourished child from a farming family.
Dewars mother, a former public health nurse, taught her
son that politicians should bring more than politics to
politics, he says. In fact, Dewar says his mother taught
him more in her role as a public health nurse than she did as
Dewar, now a vice-president at the Ottawa-Carleton School Board
and a board member of an immigrant services organization, says
as an MP he would carry on with the kind of work he did as a
student representative and community activist. I see my
past role to be similar to my role as an MP, he says.
Dewar earned a degree in political science from Carleton University,
then worked and travelled in Central America.
I wanted to learn more than what I was taught in my textbooks,
It was during this first trip outside Canada that Dewar had the
biggest scare of his life.
On a flight to Managua, Nicaragua, the plane had to land in San
Salvador for repairs. The airline offered to put passengers in
a hotel 25 minutes from the airport. At the time, there were
anti-government peace marches going on in El Salvador. On the
way to the hotel, Dewar heard gunshots and threw himself to the
floor of the bus.
People were surprised when I did that, Dewar says.
But the gunshots continued and everyone was soon seeking cover.
Dewar says he hasnt been so frightened since, except
for being a father, that is, he says.
Dewars wife Julia Snewd is an elementary school teacher,
whose uncle John Sewell was mayor of Toronto while Dewars
mom held office .
They have two sons, Nathaniel, 9 and Jordan, 7. Dewar gleefully
describes his two boys as completely opposite personalities.
The older one is linear and more serious while Jordan is
a seize the day kind of guy. Dewar says he
loves talking with the boys and learning from them. They
are constantly probing the 13 layers of why.
Dewar says he sometimes finds it difficult to balance his life
as a father and husband with his political ambitions but says
he tries to spend as much time with his wife and children as
he can. I always make it a point of making it home for