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Dear Conservative Party of Canada: An Open Letter


Dear Conservative Party of Canada,

I am a Canadian citizen- a voter. In light of the leadership race that you have been engaged in, and the fact that democracy only works when we participate, I wanted to tell you something fairly unexpected to those that know me, and that is: my vote is up for grabs in 2019.

Now, I took the liberty of taking a quick glance at the numbers from the last two elections, and it looks like your voter base didn’t shift very much at all. In fact, it was predominantly a movement from NDP to Liberal that lost you the election (or, on the flip side, a division of the left between two parties that won you the elections before that). That tells me that your voter-base is steady and loyal- it’s the majority of Canadians that are fickle. But we’re not too fickle- we do like incumbents.

Not great news for you.

That means that to regain a political majority in 2019, you will need to either rally voters that usually don’t vote to the polls- something that you're not traditionally good at (but neither were the Republicans), or you need to pull votes from the other guys. If you decide to go for the former, you’ll be focusing on young professionals under the age of 44, because we’re still turning out below the national average. If you decide to go for the later, you’ll be focusing on capturing the female vote (and much like Employment Equity for job action related initiatives- the Canadian version of Affirmative Action, I suspect that white women will be the major beneficiary of such a strategy).

Well, I’m a 33-year-old, white woman with a Master’s level education, and I just might be your gal. Full disclosure: I am a Liberal- but I’m proud to say that like many Canadians, I am fickle.

I’m your target demographic for new votes.

Now, this is not a commentary on Prime Minister Trudeau or his policies. I think that he is doing a wonderful job, and is making headway in all of the areas that he made promises to make headway on. He is a refreshing leader in this crazy global climate, and I am very proud to call him my Prime Minister. However, and I think that most Canadians will agree, something has shifted in the world since November 9th of last year. It’s almost a tangible curtain of concern: a wall, if you will. We suddenly find ourselves in an increasingly significant time and space- but significant for what reason, we do not yet know.

Owing to this moment, and to my fickle-nature, I want to open myself up to the possibilities of what my vote could mean, and I want you to work for it. In fact, I want every party to work for my vote- it's valuable. So, I want to know what the Conservative Party of Canada can do for me. I don’t want to wander blindly beholden to one vision. I want options. And I think that even the Right Hon. Prime Minister Trudeau would agree that options, and the idea of healthy competition, are the cornerstones of innovation and improvement.

So, I want to give you the chance to steal my vote. Court me, like the old days, when fake news and comment sections weren’t the modus operandi of the right. Woo me.

Furthermore, because I want you to succeed, before you tell me your dreams and visions for our wonderful country, let me first tell you about mine:

I believe in gender equality. This is not the feminism of old. I was born and raised with the express understanding that I have every right to vote; to democratic and social participation; and to pursue all opportunities that come my way- just as men have had for generations before. I do not just have the privilege of participation, but I now have the added societal expectation of thriving in this environment.

Now, truth be told, and not many people know this at all- I wasn’t always liberal. In fact, when I was doing my second bachelor degree at University, I made my then-boyfriend drive me from Hamilton, Ontario to Aurora, Ontario for the express purpose of voting for a Conservative, Ms. Belinda Stronach. I think you know where I’m going with this.

When she crossed the floor to the Liberal party, most constituents (myself included) did not feel betrayed. That move benefited us. What happened next, however, benefited no-one. When your then-party leader trudged out her personal relationships- which she so graciously sacrificed in honour of her responsibilities as a Member of Parliament- as a token of her lack of ‘loyalty’ and then compared her- their peer in every regard- to a dog (let that sink in: To. A. Dog.), your party showed me that the glass ceiling was not just present, but it was so thick and a blonde, white, billionaire couldn't even put a crack in it. If the same fiasco would happen today, I would only hope that a massive and loud bipartisan response from both women and men across the house would result in a very public, very sincere apology.

We are no longer talking about if women should be in the work place, or if their careers should take second place to motherhood. There are women in the workplace now. There are mothers in the workplace now. And we want to know what you are going to do to make our experience in the workplace more efficient and productive in a way that meets the demands we put on ourselves, and honours our current en masse position of household economic decision makers. Examples include: maternity leave policies that allow us to productively bridge back into the work force; equal pay for equal work; anti-discrimination policies that prevent employers from ignoring us during our ‘childbearing years,’ etc. etc. The list goes on. (You will, however, notice that access to tazers or weaponry are not on this list.)

I believe in science. I’m not going to say that I believe in climate change. We’re past that now. I believe in science, and climate change is a scientific fact. I want to hear how you will marry a strong economic platform with the fact that our renewable sector is underdeveloped and underperforming when you compare it to strong emerging markets like India, China, and Russia. That’s a problem for me.

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If you’re going to cite smaller government, less regulation, and a bolstered laissez-faire economy as your solution, then I want to hear a promise that you will not levy protectionist regulations around Big Oil, thereby stifling an emerging renewable sector via a subsidized product.

Ah-ha, but Carbon-tax is stifling the oil industry, you might say. Yes, but carbon tax and cutting carbon emissions has been a cornerstone of liberal platforms since the Kyoto Accord- and when they play that card, they usually win. That means that a lot of Canadians, myself included, see a very valuable disincentive mechanism at work. Climate change is happening. We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. The smart oil and gas companies are already investing a lot of research and development dollars into getting ahead of this curve- that’s smart. Let’s do the same.

I believe that Canada is a mosaic. When I speak about what I want to hear, it is only representative of one voice, one experience. Canada isn’t built on one voice, or one experience. It is built on many, and as second-generation Canadian from Irish immigrants (on one-side), I was completely turned off by the former Prime Minister’s use of the term ‘old stock Canadians.’ What are those? Who qualifies? And why are they more valuable to the Conservative base than I am?

I want a government that will be a government for ALL Canadians, not just the ones that have had the same life experiences that I have. I understand that sometimes, as a good government should do, you must take a side-step from what I want and listen to those voices. I believe in intersectionality, and every time you talk about the experience of Canadians, I want to hear about the variety. As an extension to this, I'd like to visually see that diversity in your Members of Parliaments and your cabinet. It's 2017- let's get with it.

As an extension to this, let’s be real- we need immigrants. 90% of our population lives within 100 km of the U.S. boarder. We have the space. Further, we have an aging population, several health care systems that are ill equipped to publicly meet those demands, and a middle class that wants lower taxes. It looks to me like a sound argument could be made for skilled immigration that, in turn, pays into our tax base and social security safety nets.

On the other side of the spectrum, First Nations, Metis, and Inuit populations should have a voice too. I’d like to see strong platforms around engaging these often ignored (both economically and socially) groups in our national dialogue more often. I'd like to know how you'd engage the micro-economies that exist in these spaces. After all, isn't the key to a good portfolio to diversify?

These are my co-citizens, and if I am going to believe in a good and just democracy, then I must support the participation of all of my co-citizens.

I believe in international laws, frameworks, and international institutions. I like it when we come together and work things out diplomatically. I wasn’t around during the World Wars, but I learned enough in grade 10 history class to know that I don’t want to experience a third. I believe in trusting in, and building on the wisdom of those before me.

The United Nations is not a perfect institution, but it is a good institution, and our participation should only serve to make it better and stronger.

On a related note, on June 4th, 1969, under the leadership of the first Prime Minister Trudeau, Canada signed the convention on Refugees. We said that we would take refugees. So, we take refugees. These people have gone through hell. Literal hell. They should not have to come here and hear us arguing about their degree of welcome. So, please, do not fear monger. Instead, I want to hear about how you will engage in economic bridging that will create an economically thriving part of our mosaic, because when they succeed, we all succeed. I also want to hear about how you will support the rebuilding of their homelands that most refugees so desperately want to return to, bringing back with them fond memories of Canada and Canadians, as well as strong trade relations.

Finally, I believe in democracy. I believe that every Canadian is my co-citizen, and that their plights are just as deserving as my plights. I believe in building on the policies of the successive governments before through mutual respect and understanding. I do not want platforms built on name-calling, or repealing all of the policies of the governments before. Build upon them.

I also believe in having a three-party system where ALL of the options are reasonable and good options. I believe in respecting my co-citizens and their right to cast their vote based on issues and policies. Let’s move away from the partisan, and sometimes (often) petty politics that we just saw play out to the south of us (because if the Prime Minister's ride on a helicopter turns into the Canadian version of 'The Chronicles of E-mails', I will cancel my cable package). Let’s make this election cycle about issues and policies.

It is precisely this belief that forces me to put my vote up for grabs. It is this belief that allows me to consider that perhaps the plight of the majority of Canadians, my co-citizens, is better served outside of the party that I believe serves me the best. So, court me. Woo me. Tell me about your policies and how they will work to solve our most pressing issues, and my most stead-fast values as a Canadian.

I’m listening.



Kelly Kavanagh

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