Dec. 8, 2015
By Glenn Harrop Journalist Student
Most Sens fans might overlook the man selling 50/50 tickets at hockey games but little do they know that man is more than just another hockey fan. In the case of John Redins, that man is an avid charity advocate, Green Party candidate and leader in the Ottawa community.
John Redins was born in the small township of Schreiber, Ont. on Mar. 31, 1965 and since a young age he has always been interested in the world around him. After completing secondary school Redins attended Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ont. for business administration. Redins quickly joined student government where he climbed the ranks from a student representative to vice-president of the student union of the school during his three years at Confederation College.
After completing his diploma program in 1987 he returned to his hometown of Schreiber where he found employment in the auto sector. Redins worked at Spadoni Motor Ltd. as a parts and service clerk for 14 years. In this time, Redins was an active member in his community as the president of the local curling club and volunteering in municipal council committees. Redins was also the co-chair of local summer festivals for a number of years.
Unfortunately, Redins was facing a laid-off in 2001 from Spadoni Motors Ltd. due to the economic recession when the pulp and paper industry was affected by the recession so there were few options left for him in Schreiber.
Redins then decided to move to Ottawa, Ont. in 2003 where his brother attended school and was working prior to his brother’s cancer diagnosis. He then very quickly found employment as an automotive parts manager at a local Saturn car dealership. Redins also entered into a relationship with Susan Barr, 57, now his long-time girlfriend.
Upon taking up residence in Ottawa, Redins continued his activism for his new community in Ottawa and became more active in politics.
“I’m a real politics nut,” John Redins said after explaining his love for the news.
Redins first became an active members in Canadian politics during the 2011 Ontario provincial election for the Party for People with Special Needs, representing the Ottawa South. This was far from Redins’ first political party affiliation. In his youth, Redins was a supporter for the New Democratic Party along with Jack Stokes, a fellow Schreiber resident who served as both speaker of the legislature and as a member of provincial parliament. Stokes told Redins that his voice mattered and because Redins had the opportunity to work with him, his fascination with politics blossomed. “I loved listening to his insight because he got me interested in the community and the world around us,” Redins said when explaining his introduction to the political field.
Stokes has since passed and Redins has also changed party affiliations but the lessons Redins learned still remain with him. “My goal in this election is to make every vote count,” Redins said during his campaign for the Ottawa-South riding during the 2015 election.
As Redins aged his political views aged as well. Redins changed from a supports of the NDP to a supporter of the Liberal Party, a popular choice in the Ottawa-South riding. Redins’ riding has been a Liberal Party stronghold since its inception but after facing the shortcomings of the provincial and local government when he needed it most, Redins sought his own solutions.
Redins chose to take an active role in his community, volunteering his time to various local festivals and organizations. In the past Redins has contributed to the Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa CityFolk Festival, Terry Fox Run among other festivals.
At a recent Ottawa festival, Redins worked with Alain Gauthier, a cook for the Ottawa-Carleton school board, who also volunteers his time to the community. “He’s a person who can really make people feel comfortable, he’s comfortable talking with anyone and he is extremely approachable,” Gauthier said about Redins’ professionalism during their time working together.
“If you don’t find him work, he’ll figure out something else to do,” Gauthier said about Redins’ contributions to the local festival. Gauthier explained that he worked with Redins on a silent auction and that he immediately found ways to improve the efficiency of the event.
“One day we were doing some setup (for the silent auction) and because he was in a walker at the time it was not easy for him to be involved with that. He started taking pictures of the items we had and he put them on Twitter so that people could retweet it and see the items on their newsfeed,” said Gauthier.
Friends and colleagues of Redins note that he is very active on social media including Twitter, Facebook, and even the mobile phone application, Periscope. Gauthier explained that Redins’ knowledge of social media was an invaluable resource to the festival and that it was just another skill that he brought to the event.
“He worked until the very last minute then the next morning he was in surgery,” Gauthier said.
Redins required a hernia surgery that was limiting his mobility and causing him significant pain but he knew there was a job to be done so he did not stop.
That hernia was not the only health issue Redins had in recent time, he also underwent two separate hip replacement surgeries. These were some of the reason why Redins uses a walker. These issues limit his mobility and limit his action in the community.
These were also some of the issues that drove Redins to join the Party for People with Special Needs after he was dissatisfied with hospital waiting times in Ottawa. Redins tried to get answers from the office of his riding’s member of parliament but this was to no avail. After a long period of waiting, Redins received his hip replacement then pushed his doctor to schedule replacement for his other hip just six months later.
Between his hip and hernia surgeries Redins lost much time and mobility that he would struggle to get back. He needed the hospital system to come through for him and that only happened when he took charge of the situation.
During the recent federal election the Green Party chose Redins to represent them in the Ottawa-South riding to defend his party and stand for his own principles. He chose the Green Party because it aligned itself with similar values to the Party for People with Special Needs.
Redins began a challenge in the election and like he always does, he persevered until the very end. “He was down in the dumps sometimes because he thought he was losing a battle but he kept fighting and he got results,” Susan Barr said about Redins’ struggle with the health system.
The election Redins campaigned in was a challenge to both his policy and his mobility. The Liberal Party candidate, David McGuinty, had the backing of who is now the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. Redins knew he and the Green Party did not have a good chance at victory but that did not matter to him.
“I know I’m not going to win,” Redins explained when discussing his election prospects. Redins went on to say that his goal was not to win but instead to give underrepresented people a voice in their government.
“He was proud of what he had done and how many votes he got,” Barr said after the election was called.
The election concluded with Redins earning 1,888 votes in his riding but he did not overcome the Liberal Party that won with 38,831 votes.
Redins says he was not surprised by how the election turned out and if the Green Party calls on him again he says he would be open to running again for his riding. Currently Redins is looking into starting a small business from his home and he is researching local legislation in order to make that possible.
When he is not working on his new business or patrolling social media, Redins is keeping busy with his charity work. This November, Redins participated in Movember by growing a moustache to support men’s health. He continues to support the Children a Risk charity organization by selling 50/50 tickets at Ottawa Senators and 67’s games.
For now, Redins is doing what he does best, giving back to the community.
Update he is now put his name forward in the Municipal Election in October.
Bio of John Redins
Former Volunteer Fire Fighter