Respect Means Everyone Wins

In the CPC leadership race, tone is as important as policies. 

At least, it is to me. It's been years now that I have been unwilling to donate to the party that always gets my vote. Each time I've fielded a fund-raising call, I've told the surprised volunteer on the other end of the line that the party's penchant for mudslinging was as big a threat to Canada as the policies they opposed. The constant partisan attacks, the torquing of facts in party emails, the distortion of issues in a way that riles up the rank and file and makes them angry and defensive instead of thoughtful, all of those things contribute to political polarization that threatens to tear this country apart. We're not there yet, but a peek across our Southern border gives sobering warning about where that road leads. 

Now,  I'm actively supporting a candidate for the leadership race. My reason is that Dr. Leslyn Lewis's voice is refreshingly positive and respectful. She refuses to engage in the politics of anger. She's candid about her personal beliefs while committed to rule of law and working within social consensus. I agree with her principles. I don't agree with all of her policies. But she instills confidence that she's someone who listens, who respects others' opinions, who's interested in the health of our Country rather than in amassing power.  So I've rejoined the party and I'm part of Team Leslyn. 

We'll be voting with a ranked ballot in August. That means we can select a 2nd and a 3rd choice candidate, so that if our first choice gets eliminated, we can throw our support to someone else. I wasn't prepared to give my support to anyone else. Once again, the issue is tone and tolerance. To my mind, McKay lacks tolerance for SoCons. The others come off as just too quick to attack. 

That just changed. On Tuesday, Dr. Lewis published her opposition to the divisiveness of identity politics. She wrote, "To focus on what makes us different, whether that's race, gender or religion, rather than what we have in common has never served to bring people together. Identity politics is only a tool of destruction. For one group to advance, they must tear down and destroy, which inevitably leads to a counter group rising up with an equally destructive response."

She also explained that her opposition to identity politics had just cost her the endorsement of the Association of Black Conservatives, although she is herself a woman of colour and a recipient of the highest award in the black community, the Harry Jerome award. Someone from the ABC informed her that she did not represent black people because of her plan to close an illegal border crossing, because of her position on gun control, because she granted an interview to the wrong media and because she had once invited Preston Manning to speak at her university. Instead, the ABC had chosen to endorse rival Erin O'Toole.

And yesterday afternoon, Erin O'Toole replied.  "The candidacy of Dr. Leslyn Lewis is a historic moment for our party. A business leader, a lawyer, an activist, a mother, and, yes, because she is a woman of colour. Her candidacy is celebrated and honoured by me and should be celebrated by every member of our Party," he tweeted. He went on to decline the ABC's endorsement because it was causing disunity, and "nothing – not even an endorsement – is worth disunity in our Party."

Well done, Erin O'Toole. I'm thinking my ballot isn't the only one where your name just moved up to second choice.


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