I hate the party system. Well, more specifically, I hate what it has done to our political system. We now live in a time where everything revolves around the party.
We cannot discuss politics without others assuming we belong to one party or another. Politicians represent their party to us instead of us to their party. The Senate has lost its way and is nothing more than an extension of the Parliament.
Anyone who knows me well, knows I am a non-partisan voter. I vote based on candidates, not the party they represent. It’s tough though because no one ever sees that; all they see is the party of the person I vote for. No one party ascribes to all principles that are important to me; each major party stands for things I believe in, but when I try to say such-and-such party stands for so-and-so, I am painted automatically as a supporter of that party. And that frustrates me.
After all, if I stand for gay rights, it doesn’t make me gay. If I defend women, it doesn’t make me a woman. If I try to speak for black people, it doesn’t make me black.
Until today, I have been undecided regarding who I would vote for, and I have struggled trying to make a decision. Some candidates made it easy. One candidate removed me as a friend on Facebook when I questioned one of his posts. Two candidates use the MLA position as a stepping stone to advance their political career. Two of the candidates, when asked what assurances they could give me that they would represent me over representing their parties, sent me to their parties’ websites for their stance on the issue.
That being said, it was still a tough decision, but here is why I finally buckled down today and made the decision to vote for Shannon Phillips.
First, Shannon was the only candidate who sought me out. She contacted me personally early in her campaign to actually sit down with me and discuss politics. No other candidate did that. I received no unsolicited, personal emails from any other candidates. I received no unsolicited, personal emails from any other candidates. No other candidates came to my door. Shannon was the only candidate who made me feel that my vote was actually important to her.
Second, when asked whether she would represent the constituency over the party, she said she would. Unlike some of the other candidates, who tried to slide out of answering the question by sending me to their parties’s websites, she actually outlined not only why she would do so, but why an environment exists to allow her to do so.
Third, her background in politics and policy means she is intimately familiar with the political process and how the Legislature works. She doesn’t need training. She is ready to hit the ground running. She isn’t using this opportunity to advance from alderman, to mayor, to MLA, to minister.
Fourth, last night, after the Chamber of Commerce forum ended, Shannon was the only one of 9 candidates who left the stage immediately to be at her table to meet with constituents. Everyone else stayed behind to chat with one another, as if it were an old boys club or something.
Fifth, she is intelligent, knowledgeable, and well-spoken.
Lastly, she is feisty. She is determined, and she has shown that she has real passion and a willingness to stand up for people. She works very hard and doesn’t expect to assume she has votes. She has a tenacity that assures me she will stand up for her constituents.
It took me a long time to decide who to vote for, and I nearly ran out of time, but I am confident I’m making the right choice for Lethbridge West.