She may not be high in the polls at the moment, but Lisa Raitt could be the next Prime Minister of Canada. She wants the job, and says she will do a better job than the incumbent. Mind you, that might not be too hard.
Raitt is one of 14 candidates for leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, any one of whom, she says, would be better at the job than Prime Minister Selfie. She may be right, though there are a couple of the candidates I am not overly enthused about.
I checked out Raitt’s campaign last week, having received an invitation to a free event in a downtown pub. I’d met her before (and worked with her), but hadn’t seen her since she became a leadership candidate. Our interactions were all professional, not personal. I knew she was competent, accomplished in business and a former cabinet minister, but didn’t know much about Lisa Raitt as a person. And it is the person that is so important in politics.
What struck me most about her story was Dairy Queen. Raitt is from Cape Breton, one of Canada’s poorer regions (rich in many other things besides money though, as anyone who has ever visited will tell you). She was being raised by her grandparents; then, when Lisa was 11, her grandfather died. Money was tight, so she found herself a part-time job at the local Dairy Queen. She was tall for her age, and times were different then. Not glamorous work by any stretch of the imagination, but she knew she would need to earn her own money if she wanted an education beyond high school. She stayed at Dairy Queen for 17 years.
During that time she earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry, a master’s degree in the same field and then a law degree. Opportunities in Cape Breton being limited, and not wanting to be dependent on government handouts, she came to Ontario and had a successful career before entering politics. She knows what it takes to work hard, and she knows that hard work can be rewarded.
The woman is quick on her feet and we’ll versed in policy. She has strong opinions and is not afraid to share them. She is a leader who seems to genuinely care about people, perhaps because she hasn’t forgotten her roots.
I had been impressed with her Parliamentary work. I was more impressed by the time the evening ended. It was a smaller event, which meant n limits on who got to ask questions, or the topics. Some people took the opportunity to make a speech instead of asking a question. Lisa handled those people with charm and grace. She listened. Only once did she sum up – and in that case the woman had spoken for at least five minutes. By that point I was no clearer on what her question was than I was when she started.
It’s a ranked ballot, so being low in the polls may not be all that concerning two months before the vote. Lisa Raitt doesn’t court controversy for the sake of controversy like some other candidates have done. All she needs to do to win is be herself. Her hope would be that enough supporters of other candidates would mark her as their second or third choice and she can win in the end.
Some of the candidates in this race say they are the only ones who can beat Prime Minister Selfie in the next election. Raitt doesn’t claim that. Her opinion of the Prime Minister is low; she feel any Conservative can beat him, but that she is the best choice. I like that. She has confidence, but not ego.
When the ballots are counted on May 27 it will be interesting to see who wins this race. Lisa Raitt may surprise the pollsters and still be around for the final ballots.