B.C. politics has its own Gandhi.
The B.C. Greens announced Monday (Jan. 23) that Sanjiv Gandhi, a former children’s surgeon, as their party’s second deputy leader alongside Lisa Gunderson.
Gandhi assumed his post after having served as chief of pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at B.C. Children’s Hospital and as clinical professor of surgery at UBC School of Medicine.
Gandhi says that health care is at the forefront of people’s worries.
“I’ll fight for the people for B.C. with the same energy as I gave to sick kids and their families,” he said during an event announcing his position.
For now, Gandhi will fight from outside the legislature as a spokesperson on health care, health policy and pandemic, said B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau.
Both Gandhi and Gunderson, another doctor, will embody the approach of the party routed in evidence and expertise, while helping B.C. Greens prepare for the next election.
“What comes of that in the future comes of that in the future,” he said. “Having said that, running in the next election is a possibility, but we are not there yet.”
Gandhi said he left his previous job by his own choice, but also hinted at other factors.
“I’m now part of the B.C. Greens, but that doesn’t mean I am a politician — yet,” he said. “I loved what I do. It was the best job in the world…but medicine over the past number of years has become a more difficult profession. The work place has become less friendly. The toxicity in the work-place can become overwhelming and even for an egotistical, testosterone-driven heart surgeon, it can affect your well-being and mental health.”
Gandhi, who frequently criticizes provincial health policy on social media, also did not hold back Monday when asked.
He said he does not understand why British Columbia does not lower the barriers for physician assistants, who should be working everywhere in the province, not just rural areas.
He also called on the provincial government needs to improve its public education campaign, noting the pandemic is far from over. He also called for air filters in all schools and he does not understand why masks have become a political issue.
“I think in closed, indoor spaces, we should have mandatory masking,” he said. “People are going to say, ‘are you going to mask forever? I don’t know, but I certainly think, that during the winter season, it is something that we should consider from here on in.”
He also criticized aspects of Bill 36, the provincial bill revising regulations for health-care professionals.
“Doctors don’t want politicians making decisions about things they think physicians should be making decisions about.”
When asked whether B.C. Greens run the risk of alienating core environmental voters by speaking about Bill 36, Furstenau said the party has long shed its status as a single-issue party.
“The B.C. Green Party is much broader. But if we are fundamentally focused on one thing, it is health and well-being.”