During a misty, cool evening in July on the North Mountain at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, I was able to take in local playwright and author Ami Mackay's latest play "Nothing Less!", a tale of rural women fighting for the vote in 1918. The marvelously acted, captivating, and poignant play brought to light the difficulty in being involved with public life, how much and how little things have changed in almost 100 years, and reconciling a woman's political role with other societal expectations.
Megan Leslie (former NDP MP), Meg Hodges (Kings County Councillor), and Mary Clancy (former Liberal MP) were guest panelists after the show to talk about Women in Politics, and at the eleventh hour I was invited from the audience to join them. We discussed the many joys and challenges of public life, and the unique experiences we can have as women in these roles. Mary and Leslie talked about the importance of support from other women in politics (even across political stripes) but also in the broader community through groups like "Equal Voice". Meg was noted as being the first Kings County Councillor to breastfeed during a session of Council and the particular challenges of being pregnant during an election campaign, as well as discussed her transition from "disruption politics" of the Rhino Party to official Councillor in municipal politics.
I talked about bringing emotion into politics, and the necessity to recognize the aspects of myself that I may have initially seen to be weaknesses as strengths in the political arena. I discussed the experience of being chosen Deputy Mayor and leader to my peers, many of whom have more experience than I do to fulfill the role, and why I believed I was the right person for the job. Recognizing the amazing effort it has taken for women to assert their voices in political discourse and the fortitude of all who have come before me was a humbling and invigorating experience.
In all, it was very refreshing to give voice to the many thoughts and observations I have made about being a young woman in this role during the last nine months, alongside these three inspiring, strong, political women.