Earlier this week, we once again marked December 6, a day to reflect on how women can be targeted by violence, simply for being women. On that day in 1989, an extremist extinguished the lives of 14 young women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique - their “crime” was seeking higher education.
For me, this is personal. From an NGO in a sand-filled office in Cairo, listening to horrifying stories of torture and violence from women fleeing countries such as Somalia and Congo to working with our federal government on gender-based violence policies, these issues have occupied much of my brainpower and been close to my heart for 20 years—and it is one that has scarred my heart.
I thought I had heard and seen the worst. But when I learned about the sexual violence that was a significant part of Hamas’ invasion of Israel on October 7… it was a reminder that the spirit of hate we saw all those years ago in Montreal is still burning women around the world, in cases like that one—literally.
For most Canadian women, there is comfort in knowing that in most places, on most days, we can live our best lives without fear. We are also acutely aware that there are ideologies and individuals in Canada and beyond who would like to take those rights away and would harm or kill women for the crime of living as equal citizens.
While far from perfect, Canada is one of the most gender-equal countries in the world. This is an incredible gift for all Canadians—regardless of gender—and it took over a hundred years of struggle to get to where we are today. Working towards equality regardless of gender is one of the greatest achievements of Western civilization, and we need to be inspired by our successes just as we recognize the barriers and work to make things even better.
That means ensuring women can fully participate in politics. To do that, we want to build the Canadian Future party into a platform for all Canadians. We will work to ensure our policies and practices consider people for their ideas and competencies, not their demographics. We’re all about human politics, not identity politics.
Politics is where our country should come together: coming in through different doors but entering the same room. If people—no matter who they are—don’t feel welcome entering that room, then those of us already inside, already comfortable with politics, need to figure out why.
We will test and analyze and scrutinize all our policies to make sure they work for as many Canadians as possible—I used to work on this when I was a federal civil servant, and it drove me crazy, how many easy opportunities to make things better were passed up. We will nudge those who don’t feel comfortable in political spaces to join us. We value thoughtful opinions no matter where we come from, and we will build up our members rather than closing doors. But we will not use quotas or build niche programs.
Remaining barriers in politics are seldom the result of intentional exclusion but rather the product of tradition, reluctance to change, and unintended bias. Even though the door to democratic politics is open for women, too many don’t think they can or should walk through that door.
This is OUR party. We can build it together to improve the lives of all Canadians, including those you don’t normally see in the halls of power. To do that, the Canadian Future party needs members who bring experiences and expertise from every background.
So, I want to highlight the thoughts of Canadian Future party members. Let me start with Judith from Alberta. She wrote to say:
"I have always been fearful of extremism, and I've wanted to be a part of groups that examine evidence and listen to how people are affected by policies to help things be as best as possible for all people. I like the 'middle way' as a place to call home… Good ideas can come from anywhere and anyone, but if always stuck in the extreme right or left, minds and ears are locked shut - not a place I want to be."
Donna, also from Alberta, says:
"I think Canada is currently headed down a dangerous and dark path. Our politicians at all levels of government are no longer governing for the betterment of the people and moving our society forward but merely pursuing actions that are perceived to provide the supposed best position to retain or grasp power... We need a new approach, new ideas, and a party that is willing to forge a path where evidence-based policy and excellence in public service are demanded… From what I have seen so far, I believe the Canada Future Party is going in that direction - that's why I joined."
Susan from BC, who’s working two jobs to make ends meet, sums it up:
"We need a party who assumes that Canadians are smart enough to vote on REAL issues. This sounds like it may be the path."
Building a better Canada means building a membership that represents all realities. And that’s up to you and to me.
I challenge you: Reach out to someone in your life who feels like politics doesn’t have a place for them. Invite them to join us. We’re building a new political home - for a better Canada!
Julie Smith, Secretary
Canadian Future Party
PS. If you’re a Canadian Future member, I would love to hear about why you joined this movement for change!