CANDIDATE PROFILE: Liberal Lois Nantais aims to bring ethics back to politics

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth in a series of six federal election candidate profiles, appearing daily in alphabetical order.

Tara Jeffrey

Lois Nantais says she inherited her Liberal roots from her grandmother.

Lois Nantais

“Growing up sitting around the table, my whole family was conservative, except my grandmother. She was very quiet and introverted, but also a complete rock. She never changed or deviated from her liberal roots; she just represented,” said the longtime Lambton College professor and first-time federal Liberal candidate for Sarnia-Lambton.

“People who know me know that I’m quiet, but I’m assertive. I’m the kind of person that sits in the back and listens to everything before I jump in.

“And so the inclusion and respect for diversity, empowerment of individuals traditionally from minority groups — I really like that stuff — it’s part of who I am.”

Nantais says being adopted through the Children’s Aid Society at six-weeks old and raised on the family farm near Wyoming gave her a “profound sense of gratitude.”

“I know life could have turned out a whole lot different for me,” she said. “I was raised with the notion that I was loved and accepted, and so I naturally moved into the helping profession.”

After starting out in the social service worker program at Lambton, Nantais earned a BA in Psychology and Masters in Ethics before returning to the college where she’s spent more than 20 years teaching ethics and critical theory, and established the student-led Centre for Academic Integrity.

“People laugh when they find out that I have an ethics background and I want to be a politician,” she said. “For me, this is the time in my life to become a public servant. I know that there’s so much mistrust and misunderstanding about the government and how things actually work, so the teacher in me wants people to understand better, what’s happening and why.

“And of course leadership needs ethics — it absolutely does,” she added. “I don’t think anybody should talk about things they don’t know about. I think integrity matters in politics.”

As a teen, Nantais was a gifted athlete, but was struck by a car in the LCCVI parking lot on the last day of Grade 10, and sidelined with months of surgeries.

“I just became more introspective, more thoughtful and more academic focused,” said Nantais. “That’s what shaped me into the academic context.”

She began reading and writing poetry, which she calls “a gift to myself.”

“Every single morning I read Mary Oliver’s ‘Devotion.’ That gives you a really good idea as to what kind of person I am,” said Nantais, who for years has been involved in local writers groups and the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.

“When I first took the [candidacy], there were people who questioned whether or not I would be tough enough for the job, and you know what? I don’t think anybody would ask that of a man,” Nantais said. “And if they can’t see the toughness in me, they’re not looking close enough.”