Maryam Mon­sef has been good for Peterborou­gh and good for Canada

MP and cab­i­net min­is­ter has done a lot for our com­mu­nity

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - Rosemary Ganley Reach writer, ac­tivist and teacher Rosemary Ganley at rgan­[email protected]

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.

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