People have been asking me why I am supporting Dr. Leslyn Lewis to be the next leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. In short, of the four candidates who are running, Leslyn is best suited to expand our voting base without compromising on our conservative principles or alienating the West.
In order to accomplish this, we need a leader that Canadians can relate to, someone who is different enough to catch the attention of Canadians and give them a clear reason why they should vote Conservative.
We need a leader who has a vision of bringing together our increasingly polarized country, someone who can tell us about our Canadian identity, what it means to be Canadian, and why it is good to be Canadian. If we continue to run the same type of leader again and again, we will be at risk of suffering the same crushing defeats again and again.
It’s time that we have a fresh face and a new voice as our leader. Leslyn is that leader. She’s a breath of fresh air when we need it most.
Unlike most of the leaders of both governing parties in recent history, Leslyn’s story embodies what it really means to be Canadian. She is the daughter of immigrant parents who moved to Canada in search of a better life for their children. She is a mother of two who raised a family while completing her law degree and establishing her own law firm. And she is a leader who is passionate about the freedoms that allowed her this success.
Leslyn is also unique in her relatability to both rural and urban Canadians. She shares the values of faith, family, and hard work that are fundamental to the fabric of our rural communities, particularly that of the West, while at the same time being a professional with a renowned reputation in Toronto’s downtown Bay Street.
In order to win a majority government in the next election, Conservatives will need to maintain their current Western hold, while winning an additional 50 seats. The focus area to accomplish this is, of course, the Greater Toronto Area, where voters will look to elect a leader that is dynamic, relatable, and offers a fresh perspective on conservative ideology.
That fresh twist which Leslyn brings to Canadian politics are her qualities of courage, compassion, and common sense.
Courage is in her willingness to talk about issues such as gender identity or abortion, which nine out of ten politicians are unwilling to address even though these issues remain central topics of debate for most Canadians.
Compassion is in her care for all humanity. Leslyn is the recipient of numerous prestigious community awards, including the highest award granted in the African-Canadian community—the Harry Jerome Award. In her words: "Some of these awards were granted for helping young people who were black, and others were earned for helping people who were not black. I believe in humanity, and I have spent a lot of time changing lives in prisons, inner-city schools and women’s shelters—attempting to make a positive impact."
Lastly, Leslyn embodies common sense in her approach to politics. We live in a time where many politicians appeal to identity politics, claiming that our differences are fundamental to what it means to be Canadian—all in the name of diversity. The result has been problematic for our Canadian identity and the cohesion of society.
"To focus on what makes us different," says Leslyn, "whether that's race, gender or religion, rather than what we have in common has never served to bring people together."
She’s exactly right. It’s high time Canadians recognize that a free land is one where different ethnic, racial, cultural, and religious groups can live together, irrespective of our differences, not because of them. Rather than focus on our unique differences, we need to focus on what unites us: our shared membership of the human species, our belief in a free and pluralistic society, respect for our neighbour, and our subjection to the rule of law. As Leslyn says, Canadians must "Stand united because of our shared values, not because of our skin colour."
I believe it’s safe to say that these principles which have been embodied in her campaign so far are precisely what Canadians are looking for in a national leader. As a woman who listens as much as she speaks and is willing to work with those with whom she disagrees, I am convinced she has the ability to attract new voters from across the country, win the national election, unite our country, and bring back our international reputation.
So here’s to Dr. Leslyn Lewis, the leader we desperately need, for such a time as this.
Jeremy Patzer is the Member of Parliament for Cypress Hills—Grasslands.