"I'm often asked the question, "What got you into politics?"
I always think back to a cold October night in 2000, when I stood on a makeshift barricade on the Adams Mine Road. Across the road, police were lining up for mass arrests. But the people who were holding the line weren't radicals, they were my neighbours - many of them senior citizens and farmers. Up until that moment, I had never considered a life in politics... as I stood on that barricade, I realized that the people who should have been there to protect the public interest had sold us out."
- Charlie Angus, from his book Unlikely Radicals
Watch Charlie's Express BIOGRAPHY
Charlie Angus has been the Federal Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Timmins-James Bay since 2004. He is a member of the New Democratic Party and currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics and is the NDP Critic for Indigenous and Northern Affairs (Youth). Charlie ran as a candidate in the 2017 NDP Federal Leadership Race. Charlie lives in Cobalt, Ontario with his wife, Brit. They have three daughters and a dog named Attila.
Charlie was born in Timmins, Ontario on November 14, 1962. His father, son of a miner, dropped out of school to get a job but in his 40s went to university to become a professor of economics. His mother took care of the family while taking night courses to further her education. Growing up, the Angus home was full of music and debate. After hearing The Clash's first album, Charlie began to imagine how a kid from Nowhere could get active in politics and maybe help change the world.
While growing up in Scarborough in the early 80s, Charlie and childhood friend Andrew Cash formed the punk rock band L'Étranger, holding music rallies to encourage others to get active in political change. At the age of 25, inspired by a biography on Dorothy Day, Charlie and his wife opened a Catholic Worker House for the homeless, refugees and men coming out of prison in downtown Toronto. After leaving L'Étranger, Charlie started the folk-rock band Grievous Angels.
Charlie and his young family moved north to the historic mining town of Cobalt, Ontario. He and his wife ran a publication dedicated to northern culture and politics known as HighGrader Magazine. Charlie became increasingly involved in politics, especially at the local level, through his organizing efforts in opposition to the Adams Mine garbage dump proposal.
During the fight to stop toxic waste imports to the north, Charlie worked with Jack Layton who encouraged him to run for office. In 2004, Charlie won as the NDP MP candidate in Timmins - James Bay. He was re-elected in the 2006 and 2008 federal elections.
After his first election, Charlie met a young girl from Attawapiskat First Nation, Shannen Koostachin. The children of her community were fighting for a new elementary school and Charlie fought right beside them all the way to Parliament Hill. Following Shannen's death in 2010, and urged by her best friend Chelsea Edwards, Charlie co-founded the campaign Shannen's Dream calling on the federal government to end the underfunding of First Nations schools across Canada. This remains the largest youth-driven, human rights campaign in Canadian history.