Libby was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver East in 1997. She was re-elected in November 2000, June 2004, January 2006, October 2008, and most recently in May 2011. Libby was also the Official Opposition Spokesperson for Health and the Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Health from May 2011 until January 2015. She was Deputy Leader of the federal NDP from 2007-2015. Libby also served as the NDP House Leader from 2003 to March 2011. After serving 6 terms, and 18 years, as the Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, Libby did not run in the 2015 general federal election.
Libby was co-Chair of the HIV/AID Tuberculosis Caucus, an all-party parliamentary caucus which involves parliamentarians in national and international efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and improve the lives of those living with these diseases. She has been engaged in global parliamentary efforts around health and HIV/AIDS, serving as the Chair of Inter-Parliamentary Union’s Advisory Group on HIV/AIDS and Maternal and Child Health.
Her history as a strong community activist for Vancouver began over 35 years ago. She and her late partner, Bruce Eriksen, were key figures in the formation of the Downtown Eastside Residents' Association (DERA) in 1973. In 10 years of community organizing, Libby developed her strong grassroots approach to working with people and diverse communities. In 1982, Libby was elected to Vancouver City Council and served 5 consecutive terms. She became involved in every community issue; from protecting community services to developing affordable housing, fighting for parks and working for the elimination of poverty. From 1994 to 1997, Libby worked with the Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) serving in the role of Ombudsperson for Human Rights, Complaints Investigator, and Coordinator of Human Resources. Since being elected as a Member of Parliament, Libby has provided a strong voice for Vancouver East.
She has consistently raised issues of concern to her constituents in Parliament, including: community safety; adequate childcare; and post-secondary education. Libby has also been a tireless advocate in Parliament for a national housing program, and has successfully forced federal governments to address this basic human right. Libby's community office has helped hundreds of residents with federal government matters such as immigration, student loans, employment insurance, taxation, pensions, and Aboriginal affairs.
Libby has been an outspoken advocate for drug policy reforms to stop the criminalization of drug users and the harm caused by Canada's prohibitionist policies. She has received awards and recognitions from organizations such as the Capital Xtra's Community Achievement Award for Political Activist of the Year; the YMCA Peace Medal Award; and the Vancouver and District Labour Council's Syd Thompson Award. Libby received the Justice Gerald LeDain Award for Achievement in the Field of Law, for her work on drug policy reform from the Drug Policy Alliance. Most recently, Libby received the Visionary Award from Jer’s Vision.
Born in 1953 in England, Libby came to Canada in 1968. She moved to Vancouver in 1969 and has one son, Lief Eriksen. She lives with her partner, Kimberly Elliott.