Biography


Mehdi Russel - BC NDP Candidate for West Vancouver - Capilano
Mehdi Russel was born in Iran in 1970. His middle-class family was always politically involved, providing him with exposure to political activities and social movements from a young age.

When Mehdi was sixteen, he voluntarily joined the army and fought in the Iran-Iraq war in an effort to defend his country against the invasion of Saddam Hussein. Many of his close friends and companions were severely injured, and others lost their lives throughout the course of this devastating war. The experience of serving his country made him proud, but also instilled in him an awareness and empathy towards the hardships of injured veterans, as well as those struggling with PTSD. Mehdi’s first-hand experience of how war and illness could affect people’s lives and traumatized families prompted him to pursue a career in health and medicine, enabling him to help such individuals with their difficulties.

At eighteen years of age he began medical school, graduating with a Medical Doctorate degree in 1995. Shortly after his graduation, Mehdi started working with a number of charities aimed at assisting patients with drug addictions, the majority of whom were also homeless.

During the early years of his practice, Mehdi joined a national charity organization in Iran to help establish health insurance coverage plans for people in need. He was quickly promoted, leading the country’s National Health Insurance Council with the goal of achieving public health insurance coverage for all. In the course of his three years of service alongside his team, the organization was able to implement a health insurance coverage of 90% for the entire nation. Throughout his participation in such activities, Mehdi took part in government planning and policy-making on a national level, while simultaneously working towards a bold vision.

In July 2000, during his Masters of Public Health (MPH) at Tehran Public Health School, Mehdi moved to the UK to study Health Policy Planning and Management at Keele University. Focusing on public health, resource allocation, management and social marketing in health, he graduated from the university in September 2004 with an MBA and PhD in Health Planning and Management.

Mehdi’s research, combined with his previous executive experience, provided him with the opportunity to get involved in the health sector reforms in Iran. Upon returning to Iran, he began to work with international agencies and organizations such as the United Nations, and taught at the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation as an Assistant Professor.

He then became the Chief Secretariat of Health and Risk Management in Disaster in the Ministry of Health and Medical Education in Iran. This led to his work in disaster relief after the 2005 Pakistan Earthquake, and later in managing a UNFPA program in Indonesia as well after the devastating earthquake in 2006.

2006 marked the beginning of Mehdi’s involvement in the pharmaceutical field, when he managed the first anti-cancer production project in the Middle East in order to increase the affordability and accessibility of cancer medicines in the region. Working with leading international pharmaceutical companies he successfully managed to build a business with a 130 million dollar annual turn over.

Mehdi and his family decided to immigrate to Canada in 2008, settling and finding a new home in the Capilano area of North Vancouver. Since then, he has become involved in international business and successfully ran a consulting company to support small and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies with their international marketing and sales.

Throughout his life, Mehdi has lived and worked in four countries on three different continents and has visited over sixty other countries due to his social service and relief activities, as well as for business purposes. This privilege has provided him with the chance to interact with people of many different backgrounds, enabling him to view the world from a diverse range of perspectives.

It is for this reason that Mehdi has found comfort and appreciation for life in the diverse setting of Vancouver, a community that strives to be multicultural. He strongly believes that the city’s diversity is a great asset that can foster compassion for the lives and wellbeing of our fellow citizens. Mehdi knows that we are all connected to one another, as well as to nature and the rest of the world at large. Each of our decisions and the way in which we conduct our lives impacts the lives of those around us, as well as our environment.

Mehdi believes that in order to have a sustainable society, we need to increase our social capital and cherish our connectivity more consciously. With this vision in mind, combined with all his training and experiences, he is determined and actively pursuing the establishment of a ‘Worldwide Social Security’ organization. He dreams of a day when all people, regardless of their race, gender, class and many other positionalities, have equal access to fundamental human rights.

In his free time, Mehdi enjoys music, hiking and being in nature, as well as cooking. He finds pleasure in singing, and in 2016, he released an album called “The Last Point in the World.” He feels honored to have had the opportunity to perform at multiple community events throughout recent years.

Mehdi loves spending time with his family and feels very proud to have raised his three bright daughters here on the North Shore. He is especially delighted to see their passionate activism and involvement in the community, giving back to the place they all call home. At the age of forty-seven, Mehdi is more driven than ever, determined to continue in his path of community service, providing for current and future generations.