Québec Solidaire leaders Amir Khadir and Françoise David

Amir Khadir, social activist, physician, and Québec Solidaire co-leader, is the province's most outspoken and controversial politician.
Québec Solidaire co-leader Amir Khadir is the party's only member to have been elected at the national assembly. (Canadian Press)

Québec Solidaire co-leader Amir Khadir, a principled social activist and physician, is the province’s most outspoken and controversial politician.

As the first and only elected member of the left-leaning sovereigntist party, Khadir has in his four years at the national assembly shown Quebecers he is a man who lives by his convictions, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

Khadir is co-leader of the party along with Françoise David.

Khadir is articulate and passionate, and committed to Québec Solidaire’s vision of a society grounded in feminist principles of equality, justice, environmental health, peace, and sovereignty.

But his track record at the legislature and beyond raise questions about whether Québec Solidaire can build on his political momentum.

Can he draw left-leaning sovereigntists outside his riding to the party? Or is Khadir a one-man show?

He’s made headlines time and again for taking on hot topics and blurring the line dividing political service and social activism.

When arrested during student protests in June, Khadir was rebuked for saying his actions were modeled on Martin Luther King and Gandhi. 

He encouraged Quebecers to disobey Bill 78, the special law enacted during the student tuition crisis, and compared the legislation to US racial segregation before the civil rights movement.

In 2010 he joined a public boycott protest of a family-owned Montreal shoe store that sold a line of Israeli-made shoes, and was panned for targeting an independent store that broke no laws.

And he penned a public essay defending Hezbollah’s right to resist oppression.

He called the British royal couple Kate and William parasites on the eve of their 2011 Canadian visit.

There is no doubting where Khadir stands on issues that engage him. He’s crafted an enviable public profile during his inaugural term at the national assembly.

Physician, social activist

Khadir is a physician and specialist in infectious microbiology who was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1961.

He immigrated to Quebec at the age of 10 with his family.

He has more than two decades of humanitarian work experience and has served projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe and India.

Khadir ran unsuccessfully as a Bloc Québécois candidate in Outremont in 2000. He became co-leader of Québec Solidaire in 2006.

He beat PQ incumbent Daniel Turp in the 2008 provincial election, earning Quebec Solidaire its first, and so far, only seat at the national assembly.

Khadir lives in Montreal’s Plateau-Mont-Royal district with his wife and three daughters.

Co-leader David has strong community roots

In contrast, his co-party leader, Françoise David, is much more low key.

She is a prominent community activist who has worked on various social justice issues in Quebec over the last 20 years.

David ran the Quebec Federation of Women from 1994 to 2001.

She also helped found the feminist political movement Option Citoyenne (Citizen Option) before assisting in the creation of Québec Solidaire in 2006.

David ran as a Quebec Solidaire candidate in 2007, finishing second, behind the PQ. She ran unsuccessfully in Gouin in the 2008 election.

Born in Montreal in 1948, David is the daughter of the late Paul David, founder of the Montreal Heart Institute and former Conservative senator.

David studied community organization at the University of Montreal.

She was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1999.