• Paul De­war’s pas­sion con­tin­ues

Ottawa Magazine - - CONTENTS -

He’s fac­ing the end of his life, but Paul De­war doesn’t seem to have lost any of his cheer­ful ide­al­ism or op­ti­mism. “It’s why I get up ev­ery day,” he says. De­war, 55, is the former NDP MP for Ot­tawa Cen­tre. He won the rid­ing twice with con­vinc­ing mar­gins and is well re­spected across party lines.

Last February, De­war re­vealed he has stage 4 glioblas­toma, the same form of brain can­cer that claimed the life of Trag­i­cally Hip singer Gord Downie.

“It’s a mat­ter, for me, of sur­vival. Well, you know, Downie it’s 14 months. And I’m do­ing the [med­i­cal] trial. That, hope­fully, will ben­e­fit those who come af­ter me, but there is no cure.”

It’s that kind of think­ing — plac­ing im­por­tance on those who come af­ter him — that lie be­hind De­war’s lat­est project. In light of be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer, he had con­sid­ered devot­ing his time solely to fam­ily and friends. He changed his mind af­ter the shoot­ing in Park­land, Florida, and the out­spo­ken na­ture of the sur­vivors’ re­sponse. He says those stu­dents are giv­ing him hope for the fu­ture.

“While that sounds very sac­cha­rine, I con­nected very deeply and strongly with what they were do­ing, these young peo­ple.”

De­war is now us­ing his lo­cal star power and po­lit­i­cal in­sights to cre­ate Youth Ac­tion Now; at the June launch, an event that drew hun­dreds of sup­port­ers, De­war de­scribed his con­vic­tion that in­spir­ing youth will lead to a bet­ter fu­ture.

“There is a huge ap­petite for young peo­ple to not just get framed up to do some­thing but ac­tu­ally do some­thing,” he says. — Si­mon Gard­ner

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