Ben Isitt

Ben Isitt

Ben Isitt (born ca. 1978) is a Canadian historian and community activist, best known for his 2002 and 2005 campaigns for mayor of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Early life

Isitt's interest in politics was sparked by a high school history class in which he was one of only two students to argue from the left. A backpacking trip through the United States further radicalized him; the grade 12 student saw "glaring poverty." He entered the University of Victoria in 1996 and became a campus activist, joining the International Socialists and becoming news editor of "The Martlet". In a break after his first year, he took a 28-country trip through Europe and the Middle East, including a time working on an Israeli kibbutz. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in history and professional writing in 2001.

First mayoral run

While a Master's degree student at UVic, he sought support of the local New Democratic Party to run for mayor. The Victoria Civic Electors, the municipal party of the NDP, chose not to endorse his campaign because they agreed with Isitt that a proper search had not been conducted. The Victoria Civic Electors announced they would search for anyone capable of challenging the heavily favoured incumbent Alan Lowe. No other candidate was willing and the Victoria Civic Electors refused to reconvene as previously decided to endorse Isitt's candidacy. After this inaction by the Victoria Civic Electors Isitt entered the contest for Mayor as an independent candidate.

Isitt's platform advocated for "a Cooperative & Green Victoria." David Turner, a New Democrat and Victoria's mayor from 1990 to 1993, endorsed Isitt for mayor for "his energy, vision and commitment to a more just distribution of resources." [] With about 40 volunteers and $9 000, Isitt won more than five thousand votes, nearly a third of the total.

Graduate work and 2005 election

In 2003, Isitt finished his Master of Arts in history with a thesis on the origins of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in British Columbia. The same year, he was elected to the executive of the New Democratic Youth of Canada as policy director, and endorsed Joe Comartin for leader of the NDP.

For a time Isitt lived in New Brunswick, pursuing a doctorate in Canadian labour history; he was active in the NDP there, and wrote for "The Brunswickan".

Having built his name recognition in the 2002 election, Isitt chose to once again run for mayor, winning the nomination of the NDP-affiliated Victoria Civil Electors and capturing 43.6% of the votes cast, compared to Lowe's 51.9%.

Recent developments

In early 2008, Isitt successfully defended his PhD dissertation on the topic "Tug-of-War: The Working Class and Political Change in British Columbia, 1948-1972." His research has been published in journals including the "Canadian Historical Review", "Canadian Journal of Political Science", "Labour/Le Travail", and "International Labor and Working Class History". After working as a research officer for the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, Isitt was appointed as a postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor of history at the University of Victoria.

He travelled across Russia in spring 2008 completing research for a book on Canada's Siberian Expedition of 1918-1919, which saw 4200 Canadians serve in the Allied Intervention during the Russian Civil War. Isitt crossed 11 countries and 10 times zones, in 24-day overland journey along the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Vladivostok to London.

Ben Isitt lives with his wife and daughter in the Victoria neighbourhood of Fernwood.

External links

* [ Ben Isitt's Siberian Expedition website]
* [ Ben Isitt, "Mutiny from Victoria to Vladivostok, December 1918," "Canadian Historical Review", 87:2 (June 2006)]
* [ Ben Isitt and Melissa Moroz, "The Hospital Employees' Union Strike and the Privatization of Medicare in British Columbia, Canada," International Labor and Working-Class History, 71 (Spring 2007)]
* [ Ben Isitt, "Langford's Bear Mountain Interchange: Urbanization on the Western Frontier and the Blurring of Public and Private Interests" (Victoria, 2007)]
* [ Ben Isitt links]

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