Marci Ien is getting ‘social’ with voters in Toronto Centre

By Stephen Weir

Marci Ien

Marci Ien has left the world of television and if the voters in Toronto Centre agree, is on her way to starring in the Big Show in Ottawa.

Caribbean Canadian journalist, TV personality and soon-to-be author is the 51-year old Liberal candidate for a federal byelection that  will  be held on October 26 in downtown Toronto.

Ien has been a fixture on morning television in Canada for almost 30-years. The Ryerson graduate has been an anchor on CTV’s Canada AM and for the past five years as a panelist on the mid-morning talk show, The Social.

Ien in Cabbagetown

Ien is up against nine other candidates from both established and fringe parties who are running in Toronto Centre.. Of note is the newly minted Green Party leader, Caribbean Canadian lawyer Annamie Paul who  is also  a candidate in the same densely populated  downtown riding.

A single mother, Ien lives just north of the riding with her two school-aged children, Blaize and Dash.  She has no plans to move back into Toronto South  -at least not until after her children  are finished school.

Rich. poor. gay. funky and  the neighbourhoods of Bay Street, Ryerson University, Regent Park, Cabbagetown and Rosedale,are all are part of the Toronto South riding.  Her parents – well known educator Joel Ien and accountant Vilna Ien – immigrated to Canada in the 1960s and settled on Ontario Street in  Toronto South

“ Sixty years ago, this was the place that they landed in. I was born right here,”Ien told The Caribbean Camera,. “ Canadian yes, but, I had a Trini upbringing.  What is happening in the Caribbean has not been lost on me.”

“ Relations between Canada and the Caribbean is different since my parents came here,” she continued. “ So, I want to look at the issues (immigration, visas, trade and aid) and bring them with me to Ottawa.”

Ien cites the Black Lives Matter movement as one of the major reasons she has stepped away from her high profile TV show to run for politicaloffcers  office.

She says she is used to change. “ Five years ago, when The Social was launched, it was suddenly a different realm for me.  With the Social it isn’t about (story) neutrality, it is about opinion and lifestyle.  After George Floyd, we were able to put together specials talking how all of us can stand in solidarity as allies of marginalized communities, including Black Canadians.”

Marci Ien with Rev Brent Hawkes

“ I talk about being the mother of a Black boy. I  talk about Black Lives Matter (and my own experiences). I want people  to understand.  I continue talk about my  own police stop incident and I have even talked about my 80-year old dad being stopped by police too! “

“There are many wonderful police officers out there – but this has been going on a long time.  I believe we must take action, through government and leadership, (to bring change). Of course I am  going to talk about it because I can.”

In any other time, Marci Ien and her army of volunteers would be out in the streets waving at commuters, shaking hands, kissing babies and talking politics.  Not now.

During these COVID times, Ien is working the phones and attending as many small community meetings as she can. As well, thanks to her huge public profile, she has a large following online.  She estimates that she has over 80,000 friends and followers watching and interacting with her on Instagram, Facebook and other Social Media platforms.

Although most of her social media postings these days have a political message, now and then she does mention Off-Script, her soon-to-be published diary-style book. 

The book might need a new chapter  on the day it hits the streets. Publisher HarperCollins Canada is releasing the autobiography on October 27, the day after the by-election