The dangers of embracing negative and irresponsible populism in Canadian politics | Unpublished

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Unpublished Opinions

Lisa Raitt's picture
Moncton, New Brunswick
About the author

Responsible, compassionate, and thoughtful, Lisa Raitt’s life changed when she first met Stephen Harper, who inspired her to run in the former riding of Halton in 2008 and then asked Lisa to serve in his Cabinet immediately after being elected to the House of Commons. She was most recently  re-elected to serve as the Member of Parliament for Milton. 

Previously, Ms. Raitt served as Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of Labour and Minister of Transport and following the 2015 federal election, the finance critic for the Official Opposition.

Prior to her election to the House of Commons, Lisa was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA). She had previously served as the TPA’s general counsel and harbourmaster.

Lisa is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Guelph.  She earned her law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University, specializing in intellectual property, commercial litigation and shipping arbitration.

Lisa is an active member of her community and has volunteered for many worthwhile organizations including the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and various Mental Health initiatives across Canada. As Minister of Labour, Lisa helped launch Bell’s Let’s Talk, starting a nationwide conversation about mental health.

Lisa is married to Bruce Wood and the mother of two boys who are actively involved with many sports organizations in their family hometown of Milton, Ontario.

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The dangers of embracing negative and irresponsible populism in Canadian politics

January 12, 2017

The dangers of embracing negative and irresponsible populism in Canadian politics

It’s time to take a stand.

After listening to worried Canadians in every province and territory, I have to speak out against two of my opponents who are using the phenomenon of negative and irresponsible populism imported from the United States to successfully garner media attention.

If the Conservative Part of Canada is going to achieve victory in 2019, we will need a strong, unified and inclusive party. I’m running for leader because that is my vision for our party and our country.

Stephen Harper showed us a path to win three elections and make life better for Canadians. How did we earn the trust of Canadians for nearly a decade? We were in touch with the values and concerns of Canadian families.

And always thoughtful about how Canadians would hear our words.

We knew the only path to victory was a united and inclusive party focused on our shared values of hard work, optimism and self-reliance – the keys to a better future.

These are the values that inspired me to seek public office in 2008 to be part of a pragmatic, unified Conservative team that was ready to lead and win.

Today, we have two leadership candidates who threaten that path.

Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch are embracing elements of Donald Trump’s campaign while ignoring others.

O’Leary is the TV entertainer with no filter.

The man who told our soldiers and veterans there is “nothing proud about being a warrior.”

The man who said if he were “prime minister for 15 minutes” he would “make unions illegal” – and in his words, “anybody who remains a union member will be thrown in jail.”

Canadians will not elect someone who says nonsense like this.

Meanwhile, Kellie Leitch is embracing the other half of Donald Trump – the half that wins votes by pinning all our problems on immigrants.

Leitch called Trump’s message “exciting” and she wants to bring it to Canada.

She wants to test immigrants for her undefined “Canadian values.”

She wants to destroy one of the pillars of my party’s success – a decade of work becoming the party of immigrants, the party of Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney.

Kevin O’Leary and Kellie Leitch are both taking lessons from the worst of what we saw in the US Election and embracing a style of negative, irresponsible populism.

Unfortunately for them, we are not Americans and neither of them are President-Elect Donald Trump.

This brand of negative and divisive politics would drive our party right into the ground.

Their bluster would allow Justin Trudeau to govern for a generation.

Instead of talking about broken Liberal promises and foolish Liberal failures, we would be wasting time and energy on baiting and sensational antics with O’Leary or Leitch.

I refuse to let that happen.

Canadians deserve a candidate who is willing to stand up to them and their cheap talk. I will.

I am reaching out to Canadians across the country who wants neither of these candidates in our politics.

Too many Canadians are hurting and they won’t be helped by sensationalized theatrics.

We can unite, lead and win by being the party that embraces lower taxes and smaller government while protecting the services that matter most.

A party that respects diversity but understands the difference between right and wrong — and is always prepared to stand up for what is right. A party that will put jobs first — not just in one region, and not just in our cities but for farmers, fisherman, miners, mill and factory workers as well.

And a party that avoids cheap demagoguery — and ensures everyone is judged not by who they are, but what they do. 

If principled, pragmatic Conservatives don't join together, we will see our party hijacked by the loudest narcissistic voices who aim to boost their profile at any cost.

I will oppose any attempt to take our party down a self-defeating or divisive path because that will only guarantee four more years of Justin Trudeau.