Election 2015: 4 Canadian women on who they’re voting for and why

Between TIFF, fashion week and the baseball playoffs, there’s been no shortage of high-profile happenings this fall. But come Monday, the biggest of them all goes down: the federal election. In case your Facebook feed isn’t already full of peer pressure, we’re telling you to vote. Why? Because you are fortunate to live in a country where you can do so. Which candidate should you vote for? Now that’s a horse of a different colour. To help shed light on that question, we turn to four Canadian women who explain their voting decisions. Before hitting the polls on October 19, 2015, read on for some cross-country inspiration.

Why I’m voting Conservative

Ashleigh Niziol, 26
Community Engagement Coordinator

I am an Edmontonian. I attend the annual summer folk fest every year. I live downtown. I don’t own a car. I bike everywhere or take transit. I frequent local coffee shops. I paint. I love art galleries. And I also vote Conservative.

My political views have undergone an identity shift over the past several years: I’ve transitioned from a left-leaning, ideological, post-secondary student at a liberal university to a young, female professional working in politics and supporting a right-of-centre political party. I now find myself as an employee of two local, small businesses in Edmonton, and for professional and personal reasons, I am a Conservative supporter.

There are several reasons why I opted to vote in the advance polls and to support my local Conservative candidate in Edmonton Centre, but, at the end of the day, the issue that is top of mind for me is the economy and job creation.

In Alberta, we’ve witnessed devastating job cuts and losses within our oil and gas sector. Due to the lower price of oil, companies—large and small—have been forced to downsize. We currently live in an environment where thousands of Canadians are concerned about how they’re going to take care of their families and pay off their mortgages, and they worry about where they’re going to find their next job. I believe that the Conservative Party knows that in order to create jobs and get through this economic instability, it’s the government’s job to create opportunities for individuals to succeed. That means lower taxes for small businesses and more money left in the pockets of Canadians.

Local and small businesses are absolutely central to our economy, and it’s important that a party works to create an environment for them to thrive and take calculated risks. In my opinion, the greatest thing a government and party can do is provide the opportunity for local designers to start their own shops, for start-ups to thrive and for business owners to do what they do best without interference. And, through the small business tax cut, the Conservative Party has already done this. Taxes for small businesses have been reduced. Overall, lower taxes also allow consumers to pay less and enable our Canadian small businesses to offer competitive pricing. Alternatively, any other method of increased taxes would be a hindrance to our risk-takers, entrepreneurs and job creators—it could begin to thwart innovation.

You can’t talk about women’s issues, climate change, health care or funding for infrastructure projects without talking about the economy. You can’t tackle issues about equal pay or supporting families, seniors or our most vulnerable without job creation. You need some pretty sound fiscal management for that, and the Conservative party has the best people and leader for the job.

The city that I call home is booming: I’ve lost count of the number of cranes that occupy our skyline. I want to keep my hometown, my province and my country growing, even in tougher economic times. That’s why I voted conservative.

Learn more about the Conservative Party at conservative.ca.

Why I’m voting Green

Jocelyn Durston, 37
Small-scale vegetable and flower farmer at Seven Acres Farm
Canning, Nova Scotia

I voted Green in the advance polls, and the decision to do so was a no-brainer for me. For one thing, Elizabeth May is the most outstanding and brilliant leader I’ve ever seen. For another thing, the Green Party platform is the only one that actually makes me excited and hopeful for the future of Canada.

I’ve been following May’s actions as leader of the Green Party and as MP very closely, and I am blown away by her intelligence, work ethic, drive to bring civility back to Parliament and defense of the democratic process. As a leader, she is impressively knowledgeable on a wide range of topics, and has demonstrated a level of class and strength in debates that is heartening and refreshing. As a Canadian who has felt frustrated with the divisiveness of our politicians, I appreciate that May emphasizes the need for Parliament to be a place where all MPs work together, where they are given the freedom to fulfill their true job of representing their constituents. In addition, I appreciate her commitment to run a campaign anchored in smart and relevant policy ideas with strong supporting research, and to run ads that are positive and optimistic. She is a leader I can trust.

When I look at the Green Party platform, I see a serious plan to move Canada toward the future that I want our country to have. The platform focuses on four key topics: the economy, communities, government and climate. Although it was their response to climate change that first drew me in as a supporter, their plan to transition our economy to one that is sustainable, their emphasis on building strong communities and their tireless appeal for good governance and healthy democracy make it clear to me that the Green Party is prepared to lead Canada. I’m very happy to see their plans to combat poverty, support seniors, improve relationships with First Nations and reverse cuts to the CBC. In addition, I’m also interested in their plans to support local, small-scale food producers, redirect research toward organic food production, restore Canadian public science and the use of evidence in policy development, repeal the C-51 ‘anti-terror’ bill and update our voting system to proportional representation—so many other tenets of the Green party prioritize what I believe in.

After October 19, I want to see more seats filled with Green MPs because we need their influence and ideas in Parliament to move forward as a healthy, vibrant country that is safe and enriching for everyone. That is why I voted Green.

Learn more about the Green Party at greenparty.ca.

Why I’m voting Liberal

Cathy Mitchell, 34
Director, Consumer Brands, Narrative PR

Why am I voting Liberal? To start with, I 100 per cent believe in Justin Trudeau. At the beginning, I was skeptical, like many of us. Is he too inexperienced? Is he “Just not ready?” But I listened, debated and listened some more, and feel intense excitement at the possibility of real change come Monday night.

While some parties want you to examine what’s on paper and deem years of service and greying hair as indicators of competence, I don’t subscribe to ageism. Instead, I chose to examine what unfolded at the debates, in interviews and behind podiums. I gave everyone a fair shake.

What I walked away with is simple: Trudeau and the Liberals are the only ones with a unifying vision for our country—a vision that will make us proud. From day one, they have been authentic, uplifting and positive. I desperately want a leader who will make decisions based on fact, common sense and good intention and not out of fear, strategy or power-play tactics. I want a leader who will inspire, unite and fight for what’s right, not what’s popular.

I am also a wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, aunt, colleague, friend and “one day” mother, who believes this party’s platform is best suited to meet the needs of those in my community (be it family, city or country).

As a woman, Trudeau has been unwavering in his support for issues that pertain to us. Choice is the name of the game here. Whether it be child-care support for mothers most in need of it; the unwavering belief that it’s outrageously unacceptable for 1,200 Aboriginal women and girls to go missing without a proper inquiry; or the right for women to choose what they wear—including a niqab—Trudeau and the Liberals have been on point.

As a member of a global community and ecosystem, I also demand strong leadership on the environment. Our generation will be the caretakers of the planet, and the decisions we make today will change the course of the future. We need a party in power who recognizes this incredible responsibility and has the wherewithal to make change happen by reducing carbon pollution, creating clean jobs and protecting our freshwater, oceans and national parks. This can’t be put on the shelf. It can’t be done tomorrow; it has to be today.

Lastly, my basic human nature implores me to care for those less fortunate or struggling. Providing affordable housing, retirement security and reasonable tax breaks for the middle class are essential, in my opinion. That’s why I’m voting for the Liberals and Justin Trudeau. And for the record, he’s totally ready.

Learn more about the Liberal Party at liberal.ca.

Why I’m voting NDP

Terra Loire Gillespie, 26

I couldn’t wait to vote for Olivia Chow as my NDP Candidate in the new riding of Spadina–Fort York. I’ve worked in the area off and on for 7 years and moved here more recently. I care about my riding and understand its diverse needs, its amazing opportunities and its unique challenge—I know Chow and the NDP do, too.

The NDP made it easy to ride the orange wave during this election. Beyond Tom Mulcair, I was thoroughly impressed by the team the NDP put together in from coast to coast—they’re smart, dedicated, passionate people who are representative of Canadians. Additionally, these candidates are the only ones in touch with the reality of many Canadians—not all of us are middle-class homeowners.

When voting, I always ask myself the question: Would this person help the community even if they weren’t elected? With the NDP, the answer is a resounding yes. As a community advocate myself, I recognized many NDP candidates as they were on the ground at grassroots initiatives, protests, rallies and community events outside of the election period. It showed not only that they cared, but also that they had real knowledge of what Canadians need. When I ask critical questions about the party, candidates, or platforms, I can expect an honest response back. No defensiveness, jargon or back-tracking—just a willingness to have the tough conversations.

I should add that in my riding, it was easy to vote with my conscience. Strategic voting has been a topic of heated debate during this election. It was fortunate for me that I didn’t live in a swing riding, that I had a candidate I was very confident in and that I had the time to be civically engaged enough to know the track records of candidates and parties. I see my friends and family feeling like our form of democracy leaves them voiceless. As confident as I am in my decision, I recognize that it isn’t for everyone, which is also why I voted for a party that has a history of advocating for electoral reform.

In short, they are the only party to serve all Canadians, to remedy our international reputation, making sure that our Canadian values are present in our country. I’m voting for the country I want, not for the status quo, which just isn’t cutting it anymore.

Learn more about the NDP at ndp.ca.

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