An open letter to Megan Leslie

Thank you for the inspiration.

Dear Megan,

I woke up this morning, as I’m sure you did, to a rainy, warmish Halifax day. I chatted with the electrician before getting coffee on the way to my first class. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last 11 weeks imagining what today might be like, and working to bring about change for Canada. When I woke up this morning, though, I couldn’t escape the feeling that everything was radically…the same. It doesn’t feel like we’ve imagined any differently at all by electing Justin Trudeau.

The NDP has been the only party to offer me a vision of this country that is consistently vital, dynamic and beyond everything else, morally sound. We are a party of principle and I’m proud to say that I vote NDP. However, I think that you and I both know what it means to live with the chronic condition of New Democrat Heartbreak. In a system where our representation is not proportional, and where money and platitudes mean more than ethical fortitude, we lose. We run great campaigns and have amazing support, wonderful endorsements, and come election day, more often than not, we lose. We know what it is to resist oppression, and to advocate justice for the marginalized and for those who are least able to exercise their rights or mobilize resources, but this doesn’t usually win us the majority of votes. The problem is…we are called. We are called to do this work, and despite the heartbreak, despite the many losses, we can’t help but continue to push for a more socially, economically and environmentally just Canada.

And that leaves me with you, dear Megan. Or without you, so to speak—because this time, we lost Halifax. 

You are a woman of incredible courage, kindness, honesty and passion. Before I saw you play in the political arena, I had no idea that it was possible for a politician to carry themselves with such immense integrity, and for me to feel that I was being represented by someone who could be unabashedly critical, while still remaining genuine. I didn’t think that women in parliament could be taken that seriously. I didn’t believe that it was possible to maintain grassroots connections, and to bring those struggles to bear on the federal system in real, concrete ways. I didn’t know that someone who was introverted (like myself) could deal on the world stage. But you did. And through you, I learned that I could too.

You made our parliament better. You made (and will continue to make) our community better. You made me better. And in all honesty, I will continue to follow you for as long as you’re willing to lead. Whatever you’re up to next, I’m in. 

I didn’t make it through my first class today—I had to leave because I couldn’t stop weeping. I will take today to grieve for us. And then I will go back to work. I will push my anger and frustration and love and compassion into my hands, and I will set them to the task of making the Canada that I want to see—that I need to see. So, thank you for everything. You have inspired me, utterly and completely.

In love, hope, optimism, and solidarity, and with boundless gratitude,
Joy Ciccarelli-Shand


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