Waterloo: Get to know this riding and its candidates

Learn more about the people who live in Waterloo, and the candidates running to represent the riding in the upcoming federal election.

Learn more about the political priorities of candidates in Waterloo

The riding of Waterloo mainly consists of the City of Waterloo, plus a small chunk of Kitchener. (Elections Canada)

CBC Kitchener-Waterloo is profiling different local ridings in advance of the federal election, set for Sept. 20, 2021. Read our earlier coverage of the Kitchener Centre and Cambridge ridings. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the riding of Waterloo is largely made up of the City of Waterloo. It also includes a chunk of the City of Kitchener, north of the Canadian National Railway tracks and northeast of Conestoga Parkway. 

Candidates running in Waterloo this year are Liberal incumbent Bardish Chagger, Conservative Meghan Shannon, NDP candidate Jonathan Cassels, Green candidate Karla Villagomez Fajardo and People's party candidate Patrick Doucette

Learn more about the riding and the candidates running this year.  

Who lives in Waterloo?

The Waterloo riding includes 110,134 people, 85,704 of which are eligible to vote, according to Elections Canada. 

It's a relatively young riding. According to the latest census, the average age in Waterloo was 39 and the median age was 37.7 — both below the provincial average of 41 and provincial median of 41.3 

The most common language spoken in Waterloo is English, but more than a quarter of people in the riding told Statistics Canada they spoke a non-official language as their mother tongue. Some common languages include Mandarin, German, Arabic, Spanish and Farsi. 

As of 2016, roughly a quarter of people in Waterloo identified as part of a visible minority group. 

The Chinese, South Asian and Black communities are some of the largest in the Waterloo riding. 

The median total income among recipients was just under $36,000. The median household income was just under $84,000, well above the provincial median of roughly $74,000. 

There are 42,200 private households in Waterloo. The average census family size is three with 2,600 families listed as having five or more people. 

Meghan Shannon - Conservative Party of Canada

Meghan Shannon is the Conservative candidate in the Waterloo riding. (KW Headshots)

Political priorities

  • Cost of living and housing crisis.
  • Mental health and addictions.
  • Economic recovery and jobs.
  • Supports for seniors and people living with disabilities.
  • Environment and climate change.
  • Fiscal responsibility.

Meghan Shannon wasn't available for an interview this week, but emailed a written profile to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. 

In it, Shannon said she moved to Waterloo region 20 years ago for school and never left. Shannon has a master's degree and a PhD from the University of Waterloo. She's worked with a local non-profit youth shelter and, for the last two years, as a policy director and advisor with the provincial government. 

Shannon said she's volunteered at a local hospital and with vulnerable populations. 

"My biggest passion is helping people with addictions — an often misunderstood population," she wrote. 

Shannon said she believes the country needs less partisanship, and hopes to be a unifying voice in parliament. 

Karla Villagomez Fajardo - Green Party of Canada

Karla Villagomez Fajardo is running for the Green Party in Waterloo. (Submitted by Karla Villagomez Fajardo)

Political priorities: 

  • Climate change. 
  • A green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Housing affordability. 

Karla Villagomez Fajardo is a third-year political science student at Wilfrid Laurier University. Affordable housing is a major issue this election, she said, as she's noticed home ownership becoming less and less attainable for regular people. 

Climate change is also a main area of focus for the first-time candidate. 

"We need to take some bold actions this decade, arguably one of the most pivotal moments in the battle against the climate crisis," she said. 

"As of now, none of the Canadian political parties have a concrete, comprehensive plan to address the scale of this crisis — and my party has a plan."  

Bardish Chagger - Liberal Party of Canada

Bardish Chagger is the Liberal incumbent in Waterloo. (CBC News)

Political priorities: 

  • The environment. 
  • Economic security. 
  • Affordable daycare and housing. 
  • Reconciliation. 
  • Addressing racism and discrimination. 
  • Fighting COVID-19. 

Liberal incumbent Bardish Chagger was first elected in 2015, when she captured 49.7 of the vote. She was re-elected in 2019 and received 48.8 per cent of the vote. 

While in parliament, Chagger has served as government House leader, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and, most recently, as Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. 

Chagger was born and raised in Waterloo region. Prior to being elected, she worked in the office of then-MP Andrew Telegdi and as a coordinator with the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre. Her first job at age 15 was at Tim Hortons, she told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. 

"I am committed to this community," Chagger said. 

"I will always have Waterloo as my priority, my number one reason to be elected, and that will always remain my focus. I will always be available to have conversations, including with people with different perspectives."

Jonathan Cassels - New Democratic Party

Jonathan Cassels is running for the NDP in Waterloo. (Submitted by Jonathan Cassels)

Political priorities: 

  • Pharmacare. 
  • Affordable housing. 
  • Climate action. 
  • Election reform. 
  • Student debt relief. 

Jonathan Cassels describes himself as an activist and organizer who has led campaigns on election reform, and has about a decade of experience in financial services. 

Cassels told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo he wanted to run for office to get things done. 

"There's a lot of appetite and need for things like Pharmacare, affordable housing, climate action, election reform, student debt, and we have a government that's done a lot of talking about those things and not a lot of delivery," said Cassels. 

"I think it's time that we get people who've shown they believe in those things, shown that they want to take action and are willing to act on their own, whether they're in parliament or not, in every way they can." 

Patrick Doucette - People's Party of Canada 

Patrick Doucette is running in Waterloo for the People's Party of Canada. (Submitted by Patrick Doucette)

Political priorities: 

  • Ending "small business lockdowns."
  • Freedom of speech. 
  • Mobility rights. 

Patrick Doucette spent most of his career marketing and selling computers. He later changed careers and became a real estate agent, first working in Toronto, then moving to Kitchener-Waterloo. Doucette and his wife also ran a bed and breakfast in Kitchener. 

Doucette said he's concerned that, at different points of the pandemic, small businesses were forced to lock down while big box stores remained open. 

Although shutdown measures were decided by the province, Doucette said the federal government also has a role to play. 

"I think there's no doubt that there's a direct relation between what happens with Justin Trudeau and what happens on a provincial level with Doug Ford," said Doucette. 

When it comes to mobility rights, Doucette said he believes Canadians should have the right to "unhindered travel between the provinces." 

Vaccination status

Both Chagger and Cassels said they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Asked whether she'd been vaccinated, a spokesperson for Shannon said: "Meghan made the personal choice to get vaccinated, and believes that it is up to every individual to make that decision for themself."

Villagomez Fajardo said she doesn't believe it's necessary to share her medical history.

"I do believe that anyone who can get a vaccine, really should get a vaccine," said Villagomez Fajardo. 

Doucette also declined to answer the question, saying he also prefers to keep his medical history private.