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ELECTION: NDP’s Adam Kilner involved in community, social justice

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Editor’s note: This is the third in a series profiling the five known Sarnia-Lambton candidates in the Oct. 21 federal election. Each attended a get-to-know-you meeting at the Sarnia-Lambton Golden K Kiwanis Club, and they appear in alphabetical order.

Cathy Dobson

The first question NDP candidate Adam Kilner fielded at a recent campaign stop was whether he planned to write a book about his remarkable childhood.

“Great question,” Kilner replied. “I have no plans for a book but I should think about it.”

Kilner’s personal story draws attention because it’s so unusual. And it helps explain his political leanings.

Born in Windsor, he was fostered for his first 20 months by a big-hearted woman with whom he has never lost touch.

“She was the definition of what any society should look like; the door always open and a meal always offered. The idea of public service, whether political or anything else, is deeply ingrained in my experience of what it means to live,” said Kilner.

At 20 months, he was adopted by a Sarnia couple with three children of their own and 10 more adopted. Kilner was the second youngest.

He went to the University of Toronto and earned a Master of Divinity degree. At the age of 36, he has been the minister at Dunlop United Church the past six years.

He is single, with no kids, and volunteers as chaplain for Sarnia’s firefighters. He said he is heavily involved in the community as a Seaway Kiwanis Club member, a Big Brother, and a board member with the Sarnia Pride and Transgender Association.

When invited to the NDP’s Sarnia-Lambton riding nomination meeting for the federal election, he said he decided to go to discuss the local association’s future. Instead, he was acclaimed the party’s candidate in July.

Kilner was invited to introduce himself with a 15-minute speech at a recent Golden K Kiwanis Club meeting.  That same morning, the club heard from Brian Everaert, the local People’s Party of Canada candidate.

The two men met for the first time in the hallway after the meeting and shook hands.

“We want to be cordial and not stir up the community. I don’t think mudslinging is the way to go,” Everaert said to Kilner.

“I intend to talk in the debates about facts and the party’s platform,” replied Kilner.  “For me, a clean campaign means we can call people to account for what they say, and not attack them.”

Yet even before the election campaign officially began, Kilner had been verbally attack on social media after he voiced his support for transgender issues.

“We need to build a Sarnia-Lambton especially for marginalized people,” Kilner said.

The attack on social media was serious enough to take to police, he said. No charges were laid but police warned the perpetrator.

“The experience helped me clarify that when you advocate for your riding, you have a responsibility to make sure it’s safe for everybody,” Kilner said.  “It shifted the way I view leadership.

“I came away thinking I handled that issue the right way.”

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