Bonita Zarrillo, born in 1965 or 1966, is a prominent Canadian politician who currently serves as the Member of Parliament for Port Moody—Coquitlam, a position she attained through the 2021 Canadian federal election. Hailing from a diverse background, Zarrillo has made significant contributions to both municipal and federal politics, fighting for the betterment of her constituents and championing causes close to her heart.
Zarrillo’s political journey began with her three-term tenure as a city councillor on the Coquitlam City Council, starting in 2013. Throughout her time in municipal politics, she demonstrated a strong commitment to various critical issues, including advocating against vaping and cigarette butt pollution, as well as championing gender equity. Zarrillo was particularly vocal about housing affordability concerns and the management of public works. She voiced her reservations about certain developments in Burquitlam, criticizing their lack of vitality and potential negative impact on public spaces and community engagement. Zarrillo also raised concerns about the displacement of low-income housing during discussions on the City Centre Area Plan (CCAP). Her dedication to the well-being of her constituents and her willingness to tackle challenging issues earned her a reputation as a dissenting voice on the council.
Zarrillo’s commitment to social justice was evident when she left a city council meeting without prior notice to attend a National Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism rally. She stood in solidarity with Coquitlam’s Asian community, expressing her concern about the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes and aiming to address racial harassment faced by Chinese-Canadian residents. Zarrillo’s actions demonstrated her willingness to take a stand and support marginalized communities in times of need.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zarrillo voiced her discomfort with the lack of transparency in the city council’s hybrid meetings. She raised concerns about meeting dynamics, unequal access, and public health risks associated with some council members attending in-person without masks. Despite these challenges, Zarrillo continued to advocate for her constituents and worked to ensure that their voices were heard.
Zarrillo’s impact extended beyond the Coquitlam City Council. Her exceptional work led to her appointment to the board of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, further amplifying her influence and ability to effect change on a broader scale.
In 2019, Zarrillo sought the nomination as the New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate in Port Moody—Coquitlam for the federal election. Although she narrowly lost to the Conservative Party’s Nelly Shin, her campaign garnered significant attention and support. Zarrillo’s tenacity and dedication to public service led her to run again in the 2021 election, determined to secure a seat in Parliament. This time, her efforts paid off as she emerged victorious, defeating Shin with an impressive 62.2 percent of voter turnout. Zarrillo’s triumph brought the seat back to the NDP, solidifying her position as a trusted representative of her constituents.
Throughout her political career, Zarrillo has championed several policy positions that reflect her passion for social and environmental issues. She has advocated for green jobs, affordable housing, and investment in transportation infrastructure. Zarrillo has been a vocal opponent of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, citing the need for urgent climate action and asserting that the proposed expansion is unrealistic and unnecessary. Her dedication to these causes and her commitment to serving her community have earned her widespread recognition and support.
Beyond politics, Zarrillo’s life has been shaped by various experiences and personal milestones. Born in Saskatoon, she pursued higher education at the University of Manitoba, where she obtained a degree in sociology. Following her graduation, Zarrillo embarked on a journey across Canada, living in numerous provinces and working as a computer programmer and data analyst for notable companies like Walmart. In a courageous move, at the age of 48, Zarrillo decided to leave her job as a business analyst after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She shifted her focus to prioritize her treatment and recovery. In 2010, she returned to her roots in Coquitlam and established a successful business as a jobs recruiter.
Family plays a central role in Zarrillo’s life. Four generations of her family reside in Coquitlam, and she is the proud mother of three children. These personal connections further fuel her drive to create positive change and leave a lasting impact on her community.
Bonita Zarrillo’s story is one of resilience, determination, and a deep commitment to the well-being of others. From her early days as a city councillor to her current role as a Member of Parliament, Zarrillo continues to fight for social justice, environmental sustainability, and a brighter future for all. Her unwavering dedication to her constituents and her tireless advocacy make her a beacon of hope and inspiration in Canadian politics.
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