Dear residents of Calgary-Confederation,
Upon first seeing the recently released photos of the Prime Minister, I, along with my team, felt incredible shame and sadness. There is a lot of diverse representation around our campaign table, and we took the time to digest, to hear from each other, and to question and reaffirm our support for a progressive representative in Calgary-Confederation.
I’ll admit that I shared the desire felt by many Canadians to distance ourselves from behaviour that is so wrong, racist, and in opposition to what we want to think of ourselves as Canadians.
It is a very human reaction to reject things we find upsetting, but if we give into the urge to distance ourselves from that which we don’t like, we are also ignoring our own privilege. For so many in Canada, facing intolerance and discrimination is an everyday reality that they cannot ignore. Canada is a country with a deep and troubling history of racism and bigotry, one from which political parties, leaders including the PM, and those of us who benefit from this system are not exempt.
I say this not to normalize the PM’s behaviour, but because we have an opportunity to confront the racism, microaggressions, bigotry, unconscious bias and actions that so many of us are guilty of in our everyday life, and embrace the conversation about how to actually build the Canada that we all imagine: diverse, equal and welcoming.
I was relieved to hear the PM’s apology, on the news and on the call which he made directly to candidates. It was heartfelt and acknowledged his blindspots, the harm they have caused, and a willingness to do better.
My hope is that we take the time to talk to each other, to have those uncomfortable conversations, to face our friends who have experienced these realities, to admit our own blindnesses, and to commit ourselves to continuing the real work of building an inclusive Canada.