Disagreement isn’t Disrespect

I ran for the Manitoba Liberal Party in the last provincial election.

I got 502 votes. It wasn’t barn burning numbers but I get each one of them through knocking on doors, talking to people and wearing out the leather on my shoes. They are mine, I earned them and I am proud of every one of them.

My mother is Sandra Hoskins. A big name today in the world of Winnipeg. Anyone reading the Winnipeg Free Press, watching their tweets or their website has no doubt seen the article spawned by a blog post from the weekend.

For the record my mom has worked with many people in her 35 years in business in Winnipeg so anyone in this city looking close enough might just see themselves in her musings.

I have tried to keep this blog from being overly political but frankly I’m slowly coming to realize that my personal life and my political life are intertwined and probably always will be.

So I think the comments that disturb me the most are the ones from folks who seem to think that we should all shut up and tow the party line which, for the record, isn’t working.

I want to be clear. I, personally, like Jon very much. My kids call him Dr. Jon and embrace him as a member of the family. In fact my youngest has never had a point in his life where Dr. Jon hasn’t been around in some form.

My very first act of advocacy was to advocate for myself. I was languishing in a hell made of a chronic illness and a chronically ill health care system. My husband pushed me to stand up for myself, get mad for myself and yell for myself.

When I emailed out my cry for help Jon answered, Jon helped me, and Jon inspired me to run for office and to become an advocate for The Arthritis Society. After all if my first time as an advocate went better than expected imagine how much better I could do with some facts and figures to back me up.

Now even with the history between Jon and I that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with everything Jon does and I don’t have to support all of his initiatives and to have people tell me that I must or I am not a good Liberal stings.

After all debating ideas is supposed to be the basis of our government system. We pay Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly to debate ideas on a regular basis so why is it wrong when two members of a political party don’t agree with an idea?

How can we expect evolution to occur if we try to suppress the natural process of growth?

We don’t become adults without those awkward teenaged years of rebellion and discourse.

We don’t become parents without the stress of pregnancy and labour.

We can’t evolve as a political party without some discussion, debate and sometimes, disagreement.

Evolution as a process isn’t easy and I’m not sure where the idea was put out that it is.

So Jon brought an idea forth, and frankly right now it isn’t one I am supporting, but just because he’s Leader doesn’t make it a done deal. It simply means that he brought forth an idea and we, the party membership, can, should and, in my opinion, are honour bound to debate it on the merits.

If they feel an idea has merit it will pass but those with opposing attitudes should not be shamed for having an opposing view. After all if we all loved the same things we’d only need one political party for all instead of a country of multiple parties.

I owe it to my Liberal party members living in my Electoral District to be honest about what I believe in. I promised them that I would stand up for what I believed in at all times. I said that and so I will live it. I think that as a politician your word is all you have and so it is my mission to keep mine.

Debate isn’t a dirty word and disagreement doesn’t equal disrespect and anyone that thinks this is true obviously has confused a democratic political party with the former Soviet Union.

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About Shirley Robert

Wife, Mom, Politician, Project Manager, Arthritic, Blue Bomber Season Ticket holder, Mary Kay Rep, and Advocate. I'm a whole lot of different and proud of it! View all posts by Shirley Robert

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