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WHITBY, ONT. – I was asked this week to write about my decision to support my local Conservative candidate, Maleeha Shahid. And although I think it doesn’t need to be explained, nor do I need to explain why I went to the Catholic Church or why I had an abortion or why I ate chicken instead of beef for dinner, I nod. I do this because we should be able to talk about politics, especially at a time when our country needs leadership.

So let me address a few points. I will vote for Maleeha because I know her. I know she has had to face the same types of challenges as I have, and I know that she will represent my voice in Ottawa to the best of her ability. She’s a fighter and I respect that. Does that mean that I am absolving the Conservatives from their human rights, racial justice or climate change issues?

Like me, voting for Ryan Turnbull in the last election did not absolve the Liberals from breaking their promises during their majority. The two parts are like six eggs and a half dozen. We gave the six eggs, six to half a step. I try the half dozen. I will continue to hold leaders to account and criticize their inappropriate actions, policies and rhetoric, as I have done on several occasions, for different leaders, in the past.

But why, you ask? Why would I never have made room for the Conservatives, even once in my life? I respect the question. After all, I said that I was a liberal and that I will always be a liberal at heart. But I have heard, and most importantly, witnessed the “actions” that accompany Liberal platitudes and rhetoric, and I truly believe that inaction, accompanied by bad behavior, should not be considered the norm for Canadians. We deserve, and therefore must demand, better. And better is always possible.

I don’t usually read reviews, but I read one yesterday that alluded to my decision going against the interests of black communities.

So let’s start with the long list of investments in black communities that the Liberals cry out every time they get the chance. They have been plagued by problems and have not been harnessed to create lasting impact. Do you remember when Employment and Social Development Canada launched the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative earlier this year and organizations like Black Lives Matter Toronto and Operation Black Vote were not funded because they weren’t? weren’t “black enough”? I do.

What about the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund? A contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars that was awarded to an organization in the Prime Minister’s constituency without a tender to solicit qualified contractors has been described as “difficult to access” and “laying down invasive questions about the candidates’ sexuality ”. Finally, when I think about the fact that nearly 70% of the people involved in the black class action lawsuit are black women, who have worked for decades in the Canadian public service, without being promoted, while being intimidated, harassed and submissive to racist and sexist behavior, knowing full well that the government has done nothing for months on this issue, it is not leadership that interests me.

In addition, the $ 2.5 million invested to “advance gender equity for black women and girls in Canada” is insufficient. If black women and girls are at greater risk of violence, especially during this pandemic, why give groups of organizations less money than you gave to Equal Voice – an organization – in 2018, when they received more than $ 3 million? I will not go into the details of the 2015 pledge to repeal mandatory minimum sentences or the public demand to erase cannabis records from communities that have been the subject of continued oversight. The Liberal record, or the half-baked record, speaks for itself on this. If Black Lives Matter mattered to the Liberals, not only would it have appeared in the debates, but would it be evident in their action?

But hey, enough about the Black stuff, Celina? Law? Obviously, it was not important. If we fail to convince a Liberal leader to clearly oppose Bill C-21, do we honestly expect him to talk about black lives? So let’s talk about other issues where rhetoric didn’t match action. Boiling water advisory ending in 2021. 2015 being the last first past the post. And my favorite – “because it’s 2015”. It turns out that “because it’s 2015” only applied to some.

Over time, I noticed that this didn’t apply to me, Jody Wilson-Raybould, Dr Jane Philpott, Eva Nassif or Leona Alleslev. Because 2015 was only enforced when it was practical, but was put aside when women challenge the status quo and dare I say it, defend themselves. #BelieveHer is avant-garde in a soundbite, but not so important when you can easily say that we “live things differently”.

While some may believe that voting for Shahid is a vote against the best interests of my community, I have to ask if a vote for Ryan Turnbull is better? And yes, I know I could vote NDP. If Trish McAuliffe or Niki Lundquist were running I could have worn orange on Sunday. I have voted for Niki in the past and would definitely vote for her again.

The point is, the public announcement of my vote started a conversation for those who think they are doing something differently. For those who don’t want to reward a Liberal leader’s bad behavior just because they have always voted Liberal, but want to look at their own local candidates and decide who will best serve their community. If he’s a liberal, fine, but if he’s someone else, there’s nothing wrong with that!

Former MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes left the Liberal caucus in 2019 to represent her in Whitby, Ont. ride independently. She is a Senior Advisor and Adjunct Lecturer at Queen’s University.


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