Ron Broda, candidate for the People’s Party of Canada in Saanich–Gulf Island, does not hold back when it comes to speaking about his prosthetic left leg. In fact, as he and volunteer Bridget Burns spend their lunch hour door-knocking in downtown Sidney, he suggests a headline along the lines of ‘local candidate on the stump.’
It is with this sort of folksiness and frankness that Broda hopes to unseat local MP and Green Party leader Elizabeth May.
While Broda says he is in the race to win, he also hopes that this campaign will help restore trust between politicians and their elected officials through ethics of questioning that eschews blind trust and favours public discourse through a more rounded information experience.
“Questions really are the answers,” he said. “People need to start questioning things more, and then actually think about what they are told,” he said. “If I give any one message to voters this election, it would be ‘don’t believe anything you hear. Listen to it and then check it yourself.’”
Broda is certainly willing to talk openly about his experience of campaigning with an artificial limb. “I’m not shy talking about it, because I think it is important for people to understand the issues that people with physical challenges have,” he said. “It was a real education for me. “
Broda lost his leg in July 2013 after an SUV struck him while he was riding his motorcycle. Broda, who said he has no memory of the crash, later sued the driver of the SUV, claiming he had been deliberately struck. The driver received 60 days in jail and a driving prohibition of five years in October 2016, after being found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. In September 2017, a court upheld this sentence.
While most people rarely raise the prosthetic leg in conversation, when he is campaigning, some do with their line of questioning varying.
“Some people want to know more,” he said. “Some people don’t.”
Broda certainly has not shied away from speaking on behalf of others like him. Less than one year after he lost his leg, he became a volunteer peer support visitors for amputees, and now serves as a trainer. He has also been lobbying for the greater availability of osseointegration, a process that directly incorporates artificial implants into bones.
Broda underwent the procedure in April 2018 after travelling to Australia at his own cost of $112,000. But it has been worth every penny, said Broda, pointing to the limited availability of the procedure in Quebec. It also promises to reduce the side effects of losing a limb, including weight gain and diabetes.
Broda said wearing his first prosthetic was painful. “I was limited really by how far I could walk because my first prosthetic was a vacuum-suction style, which is more comfortable, but it is not very secure because your leg shrinks during the course of the day, the seal breaks,” he said. “I have a very short residual limb, so if I flex my knee too far, that would cause the vacuum to break and because my stump — the politically incorrect term that I don’t mind — because it is so short, in order to have maximum knee flex, the socket has to have a fairly deep cut. But if it cut too far, there is not enough left to hold it on.”
Broda, who worked as a border guard, also had to have a second prosthetic for his job. While its use of screws made it more secure, it was also very painful.
The surgery behind osseointegration was not really complicated and has helped him lose weight and improve his quality of life.
“I am now able to walk around the airport with my daughter,” he said. “That is 10 [kilometres]. With this I actually scramble over logs like I used to.”