This is a little longer blog than usual. If you’ve heard of Lisa MacLeod, MPP, then you know she has a lot to say.
I met Lisa at her constituency office on a 30°C day in August. She arrived straight from a Learn to Run class. She’s training for a 5K fund-raiser for breast cancer. That seems typical of Lisa MacLeod.
I quickly gave up trying to write Lisa’s responses to my questions. Each answer was passionate and lengthy. Not lengthy in an evasive, rambling way, but rather in an animated, descriptive, and informative manner. Here’s a recap of my conversation with the Progressive Conservative member of Provincial Parliament for Nepean-Carleton as we sat down over tea.
Where does your passion for politics come from?
Lisa is from a political family. Her formative years were around campaigns, following her politician father around Nova Scotia,. She views politics as a noble profession and firmly believes in community first.
What were the challenges you faced when you first ran in an election?
Lisa was 31, limited finances, and had a three month old baby. She told me it wasn’t until her daughter was three years old and becoming more independent that she herself realized the strength (in politics and life) that this had required.
What is your support?
#1 her husband, her family. “We serve together”. He takes care of the small details and they attend all events as a family.
#2 her incredible staff, in Ottawa and Toronto. The admiration appeared mutual.
#3 her party association, her volunteers. Lisa rattled off a list of names and told how these dedicated people have believed in her from the beginning.
How do you juggle working in Toronto much of the year and living and representing an area of Ottawa?
Lisa admitted the travel challenge has been huge. Since Porter Airlines came into being though her travel has become immensely easier. Anyone following her Tweets knows of her love of Porter. She leaves her Ottawa home Monday morning and returns Thursday or Friday after Question Period. Last year her family remained in Ottawa for the first time. It is important to Lisa that her daughter grows up in her community and has the support of the community. Life is also a little easier now that provincial parliament sits for three weeks followed by a constituency week. Lisa was also instrumental in changing the hours of parliament, making them more conducive to family life. Telephone, email, and Skype make the separation from her family a little easier.
As an Etiquette Consultant I’m always interested in proper procedure. How did you learn the protocol of parliament?
Having worked on Parliament Hill, born into a political family, and having worked with other members was a huge advantage, especially since Lisa was elected during a by-election. This meant she missed the usual new member orientation. She admits though that her passion and outspoken nature sometimes get the attention of the Speaker.
Watching parliamentary debates on TV I’m sometimes appalled at the behaviour of some members. Your thoughts?
Lisa stressed that is the parliamentary system. It’s the same as it has always been. She feels the Speaker has done an excellent job of monitoring exchanges. While not excusing the incivility, she explained that 107 people in a small room debating the most important issues of the day for our province can’t check their emotions and passion at home. She is though disturbed by personal attacks, the “black operations of politics”.
Your comments on being a young woman in politics.
Lisa acknowledges that she is an anomaly in politics in this nation. She doesn’t believe in quotas, but in merit. She feels it is her responsibility to encourage other women in politics and to make the path easier for them in the future.
Any memorable faux pas or awkward situation you would be willing to share?
At an official function a foreign ambassador to Canada introduced Lisa to the audience as her political rival’s wife. Through her laughter she told me how she used humour to rectify the situation and avoid embarrassment to the ambassador.
My time with Lisa passed very quickly. Her passion and love for her community and politics was evident in all her responses. And she loves tea. Thank you for your time, Lisa.