|Jermaine Chambers Photo contributed|
By Neil Armstrong
A Jamaican banker hopes to be nominated the candidate of the Ontario Progressive Conservative (PC) Party for Brampton West, an area with a large concentration of Jamaicans.
Although the next provincial general election is not expected until June 7, 2018, the Tories are ensuring that their candidates are in place and Jermaine Chambers, 35, thinks he is ready for representational politics.
Chambers grew up in Troy, Trelawny with his mother, grandparents, sister, two brothers and a cousin.
He attended Knox College in Clarendon and graduated in 1998, then went on to do sixth form at Manchester High School in Mandeville, graduating in 2000.
His search for work took him to Montego Bay in 2001 where he didn’t know anyone but he decided to walk along the streets to familiarize himself with the businesses.
Standing in front of each, he wrote application letters and hand-delivered them with his resume for an entire day.
Three days later, Scotiabank invited him to an interview and made an offer which he couldn’t refuse.
Shortly after this, Northern Caribbean University opened a campus in the city so Chambers enrolled in its evening college to do a bachelor’s degree in management studies program.
“I was able to work and send myself to school which is one of my great achievements,” he says, noting that he graduated in 2006.
He worked in different positions in several branches of Scotiabank and immigrated to Canada in August 2010 to join his wife, Nickiesha. Their son, Josiah, is three years old.
Since living here, Chambers has worked with CIBC and has been a financial advisor with TD Canada Trust. From 2010 to 2015, he ran his own logistics business focused on helping people relocate from one part of the country to another.
As early as sixth form, he was involved in Generation 2000, the young professional arm of the Jamaica Labour Party, and became the vice president of its western chapter in 2003 while living in Montego Bay. He also served as the president of the Rotaract Club.
Chambers says he had been visiting Canada since 2007 when his father lived here and was always observant of the political process.
“ I realized from a community point of view that the Black community was not as involved in the political process. So, being someone who was so involved politically in Jamaica, I right away saw that there was a need for greater involvement from our community to be in politics.”
Before moving to Canada in 2010, he had already made up his mind that he would become involved.
Chambers says he did not run in the last municipal elections because he did not gain his citizenship yet and thus was not eligible to run.
He says with the election of Patrick Brown as the leader of the Ontario PC Party, he observed Brown’s ability to reach out to different ethnic groups and create a space for them within the party.
“The intervention sparked my interest, then I was able to have a conversation with him. He made it clear to me that there is room in the party for individuals from different ethnic groups, that he has also a personal desire to see a member of the Black Canadian community involved in the Ontario Conservative Party.”
Chambers says the opportunity in Brampton West presented itself, noting that, “this constituency has a great big Black Canadian population, is a very multicultural constituency as well.”
“Given my political background, given my involvement in various community organizations and civic organizations, and experience that I have, I believe that it would now prepare me to take on this role to be a representative here in Brampton West at the provincial level.”
He has helped former Brampton city councillor, Garnett Manning, with his campaign and has spoken to Toronto city councillor, Michael Thompson, and Ontario Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, with plans to reach out to others.
Chambers wants people to know that he is a grounded Christian who was born and raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church which guides his honesty and fairness.