First elected into the Ontario Legislature in a by-election in 2006, she was re-elected in 2007, 2011 and 2014.
Cheri is known for her 2006-2007 $10 minimum wage campaign, through which over a million Ontarians saw their income increase by 28% over three years, and as the “Queen of tri-party bills” for tabling the most bills in the Legislature that have all three parties’ support. Cheri has also passed more Private Member’s Bills than any other MPP in Ontario’s record, and has passed more pro-LGBTQ legislation than anyone in Canadian history. Cheri was voted NOW Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Best MPP for 2016, her third time winning the title. She has also twice been voted Runner-Up Best MPP.
Cheri has been a 40+ year activist for LGBTQ issues. She was the only woman in Canada to sign the ‘We Demand’ statement in 1971—the first demand for gay rights on Parliament Hill. In 2012, Cheri succeeded in getting Toby’s Act passed, an amendment to the Ontario Humans Rights Code to include gender identity and gender expression–the first of its kind in North America. She made history again in 2015 by successfully passing Bill 77, which prohibits “Conversion Therapy” for youth (therapy intended to prevent young people from identifying as LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual or queer]). This ground-breaking legislation also de-listed “conversion therapy” from OHIP. Following DiNovo’s introduction of the Bill, President Barack Obama called for a ban of the practice in the United States, and Manitoba tabled legislation to ban the practice as well. DiNovo has championed Parental Equality for LGBTQ parents with her Bill, Cy and Ruby’s Act. The government recently announced that they would bring in legislation and pass parental equality law by end of 2016. Cheri has also been honoured to be the Grand Marshal in Toronto’s Pride Parade.
Cheri successfully proposed a bill to fast-track benefits for workers suffering from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). After 7 years, 4 tablings and 1 second reading, the government finally passed legislation to recognize PTSD as a workplace injury in April 2016. Similarly, Cheri is the author of the original Bill on inclusionary zoning, which gives municipalities the tools to address the affordable housing crisis. Her Bill, which tabled 5 times and passed 2nd reading twice, has the support of municipalities and organizations across Ontario. Recently, the Ontario government finally announced it was acting on inclusionary zoning. Cheri has been an outspoken advocate for cyclists and cyclist safety, including her “1-metre rule”, which the government finally passed as part of their larger transportation bill in 2015.
Cheri is an ordained United Church Minister who performed the first legalized same sex marriage. Cheri also founded Girls’ Government, a non-partisan initiative aimed at getting young girls engaged in the political process. Cheri has also been a staunch advocate for Tibetans, Roma, Ukrainian and other immigrant communities in Parkdale-High Park and Ontario.
She is the winner of several major awards – the Lambda Literary Award in Washington, D.C. for spirituality and religion for her book Queerying Evangelism, the Award of Merit by the government of Ukraine for her work on Canada’s first tri-party bill recognizing the Holodomor as genocide and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Inspire Awards for her lifelong work as an activist for equal rights. Cheri has also received the Bicycling Leadership Award from the Share the Road Cycling Coalition, the Community Hero Award from Jer’s Vision, the Rainbow Health Advocate Award from Rainbow Health Ontario, the History Maker Award from Brockville Pride and the PFLAG Ally Award, presented by Rosie O’Donnell.