As far as Rita Jethi is concerned, sport is the key to bringing people together and keeping them engaged in the community.
Jethi is the Progressive Conservative candidate for Toronto-Danforth in this Thursday’s provincial election. She says she uses cricket, the sport she grew up with in India, to get to know the members of her community and keep them engaged.
“I enjoy encouraging youth and families to get involved in sports,” she said. “I see women, men and children developing their personalities and the skills it takes to succeed in life.”
After immigrating to Canada in September 1999, Jethi worked hard to obtain her financial service licence. Her goal was to start up a small financial consulting business. Several months later, her husband, Anil, brought over their two sons. They both currently work as a husband and wife realtor team for Century 21.
Jethi launched the Cricket Development program in 2009. She currently facilitates weekly tournaments throughout the city. She believes the program is an effective way for women to adopt active lifestyles and develop self-esteem.
Her ambition and strong sense of community are grounded in her upbringing. As a youth, Jethi went against her mother’s wishes and threw herself on the pitch with other young cricket players, both male and female. The feisty young woman believed she could do anything her two older brothers did.
And having a father as a national defence officer meant a lot of travel for Jethi and her family. Her unsheltered lifestyle exposed her to the disparities within her own country.
“If I came across somebody that needed help, I would lay in bed at night thinking about them,” she said. “My father was a big influence in my life; he encouraged me to do good things.”
The values instilled by her family are woven into Jethi’s political life. She says the idea of getting young people and families back on their feet is what motivates her. She plans to get rid of ‘red tape’ to give all members of the community an equal chance at finding employment. She also says her party plans to reduce income tax by up to 75 per cent, introduce income-splitting and remove the HST from hydro bills.
“I have faced the same challenges that most Ontario families do,” she said. “We are going to bring relief to families and allow them to share their income up to $50,000.”
Jethi says the diversity of the Toronto-Danforth riding makes her feel right at home. Speaking four different languages, including Sunni, allows her to communicate effectively with the riding’s large Muslim population.
“I truly love the diversity of the Muslim community in the Toronto-Danforth riding,” she said. “It’s probably one of the only neighbourhoods where you’ll find Indian, Afghan, Pakistani and Arabic Muslims living in harmony.”