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Ben Isitt

Ben Isitt Canadian historian and politician

Canadian historian and politician
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Canadian historian and politician
Is Historian Politician
From Canada
Type Social science
Gender male
Birth 19 January 1978, Winnipeg, Canada
Age: 42 years
Star sign CapricornCapricorn
The details

Ben Isitt (born 1978) is a Canadian historian and legal scholar with expertise in the relationship between social movements and the state. He holds public office as a city councillor and regional director in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Early life

Isitt was born on 19 January 1978 in Winnipeg, Canada. His interest in world affairs and 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 influenced him; the grade 12 student saw "glaring poverty." He entered the University of Victoria in 1996 and later became 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.

Graduate work and community involvement

While a master's degree student at UVic, Isitt entered the contest for Mayor of Victoria as an independent candidate in 2002. This followed the decision of the Victoria Civic Electors, municipal arm of the New Democratic Party, against challenging the business-aligned incumbent Alan Lowe. 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 40 volunteers and $9 000, Isitt won more than five thousand votes, 32% of all ballots cast.

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, endorsing Joe Comartin for leader of the NDP and serving on the party's federal council.

For a time Isitt lived in New Brunswick, pursuing a PhD in Canadian history; he was active in the NDP there, helping to revive the youth wing and writing for The Brunswickan. In 2005, Isitt once again ran 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%.

In 2008, Isitt successfully defended his history dissertation Tug-of-War: The Working Class and Political Change in British Columbia, 1948-1972.

Scholarly achievements

After working as a research officer for the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, Isitt taught history at the University of Victoria and University of British Columbia, including courses in Canadian and global history, labour, international relations and social movements.

Isitt is the author of three books, From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada's Siberian Expedition, 1917-19 (University of British Columbia Press, 2010), Militant Minority: British Columbia Workers and the Rise of a New Left, 1948-72 (University of Toronto Press, 2011) and Duty with Dignity: The Professional Employees' Association in British Columbia (PEA, 2014). His research has been published in journals including the Canadian Historical Review, Canadian Journal of Political Science, Labour/Le Travail, International Labor and Working Class History, and BC Studies.

Isitt has travelled to Russia several times, via China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan, presenting research at universities throughout Siberia and the Russian Far East. During his first trip in 2008, he travelled across Russia along the Trans-Siberian Railroad completing research for From Victoria to Vladivostok (University of British Columbia Press, 2010). This forgotten chapter in the social and military history of Canada and Russia saw 4200 Canadians serve in the Allied Intervention during the Russian Civil War. A Russian-language edition of From Victoria to Vladivostok has been published by the Korpus company in Vladivostok and a French-language edition has been published by Laval University Press.

In 2010, Isitt completed a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of London External Programme. He currently holds a fellowship with the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria for doctoral research on the legal history of property and social movements.

Public Office

Isitt was elected to public office as a city councillor and regional director in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in November 2011. He received 8,419 votes for city council, finishing fourth for eight available seats, and received 5,885 votes for regional director, the second-highest total for three spots allocated to the city. Isitt ran as an independent candidate, offering to "build a fair, safe and green Victoria." 

He currently serves as secretary-treasurer of the Capital Region Housing Corporation, acts as city council liaison for the Blanshard-Hillside-Quadra and Rockland neighbourhoods, represents Victoria on the Capital Regional District board and represents the capital region on the Island Corridor Foundation board.

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Article Title: Ben Isitt: Canadian historian and politician - Biography and Life
Author(s): PeoplePill.com Editorial Staff
Website Title: PeoplePill
Publisher: PeoplePill
Article URL: https://peoplepill.com/people/ben-isitt/
Publish Date: 02 Jan 2017
Last Update Date: 09 Dec 2019
Date Accessed: 07 Apr 2020
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