Maryam Monsef has been good for Peterborough and good for Canada
MP and cabinet minister has done a lot for our community
The Maryam Monsef story to date is a spectacular one, one of great opportunity offered in Canada, of formidable ability and of a person’s deep morality and prodigious work ethic.
Altogether, her achievements, done in a short time on a national and indeed international stage, all while accompanied by sharp scrutiny and criticism at all points, place Peterborough and women squarely at the centre of political life and influence in our country.
Globally, Monsef and Canada are hailed for brave leadership, backed up by real money. I have seen it with my own eyes, at the United Nations in New York, and at the Women Deliver Conference last June in Vancouver.
About 15 years ago, my spouse, John, said, “I want to learn more about Islam. I’m going to the Eid dinner at Trent.”
“I’m too tired,” I answered. “You go.”
He came home glowing. “I met a fantastic young woman, a Trent student’, he told me, “selling red scarves for women in Afghanistan. So I bought 10.”
Into our lives came the remarkably talented and genuinely good young Maryam. She was highly intelligent, a very quick study, and ambitious. She arranged to meet mentors, often older women, in downtown cafés as she weighed her political options, choosing to run for mayor and then to seek the Liberal nomination in 2015, though other parties courted her.
For me, a longtime advocate for women’s advancement, this was a dream come true. It seems it was for Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau too, because after she won this riding, he put her, a young woman without five minutes experience in the House of Commons, in charge of the new cabinet post of Democratic Institutions.
Around a cabinet table of 30 people was a young woman from Peterborough, a strong voice.
At that time, I went to town hall meetings of the issue of proportional representation. I could see that Canadian voters were about evenly divided on the wisdom of tinkering with the electoral system. As I expected, the new prime minister took the issue off the table for the moment. It wasn’t a winning one. Many Canadians still need to be persuaded on this one.
Monsef’s stature grew as she became minister for women and gender equality and minister for international development.
She is a reasonable, civil and gracious politician, showing leadership. I went to community gatherings she organized, one for ministers of religions, one for young women leaders, another for rural women, and yet another for people involved in international development; always consulting, just as she had started out.
She brought high-level public servants and decision-makers to the city, keeping both a local and a global view.
There has been money to invest locally, nationally and internationally. That must be the joy of it. This empowers such pro-woman projects as “Homeward Bound,” the
“I am stupefied that any Peterborough woman or her partner, who looks the world over, would fail to vote for this MP. But then, some women voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. ROSEMARY GANLEY
YWCA, Trent University, Habitat for Humanity, anti-violence campaigns, and now, anti-trafficking programs.
So we come to Election 2019. I am stupefied that any Peterborough woman or her partner, who looks the world over, would fail to vote for this MP. But then, some women voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
I am suspicious of the Conservative party, on sexual and social issues. I am appalled at its lack of a climate plan. I am uneasy about the patriarchal attitudes left in many of their candidates. I’m unhappy that Premiers Doug Ford and Jason Kenney and Leader Andrew Scheer are in a kind of right-wing alliance.
Most of all, I admire Monsef’s strength of character, deep local attachments, and vision of a better world where all are equal. If power and influence are to be placed in anyone’s hands, it is good they are here. She has been heard to say, “Canada needs more Peterborough.” Let’s rise to that. It’s an easy vote for me.