Many in our Caribbean community are still talking about the big news in Canadian politics on the weekend.
Not the story of Erin O’Toole,winner of the Conservative leadership race, important though his victory may be.
The far bigger story was the performance of Jamaica-born Leslyn Lewis who finished third in the race but has now become a rising star in Canadian politics.
To Leslyn Lewis, we extend our heartiest congratulations.
Lewis 49, a Toronto lawyer who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica when she was five, is the first Black woman to run for a major party leadership in Canada in more than 40 years.
Before the leadership race, she was virtually unknown on the Canadian political scene.
Now many in our Caribbean community are celebrating her meteoric rise at this time when the Black Lives Matter movement appears to be in full tide and just after the euphoria south of the Canadian border over the appointment of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate in the upcoming United States presidential elections.(Harris is of Jamaican and Indian heritage.)
Let’s look back at that remarkable race which Lewis ran on the weekend.
Lewis, who has never been elected, who had run only once before for the Conservative Party — and that was five years ago — was neck and neck with Peter MacKay, a former senior cabinet minister in Stephen Harper’s government, and O’Toole, the eventual winner.
She came first in Saskatchewan. She came second in the territories (ahead of O’Toole). And she came second in Alberta.
An impressive record for a social conservative in Canada.
Lewis’s meteoric rise should certainly be an inspiration to women of colour, regardless of party affiliation, who are MPs or MPPs or who are serving as city councillors and have high hopes of furthering their careers in politics, perhaps also aiming for party leadership.
It should also be an inspiration to those who fought the good fight in the last municipal election in Toronto but found themselves victims of last minute downsizing of the city council – outstanding candidates such as Michelle Garcia and Carol Royer.
Both Garcia and Royer who ran in Etobicoke North, have vowed to continue to fight for the people in their community.
At the present time Lewis does not have a seat in parliament. But that situation is expected to change soon.
A news report from Ottawa in this issue of The Caribbean Camera says that it is not yet determined in which riding she will run. but that there are a number of solid Tory ridings expected to be vacant come the next election, if not sooner.
The report also notes that Lewis spoke on Tuesday with Conservative leader O’Toole and “pledged her support and efforts to help him on his path to forming government.”
Look out for Leslyn in the next federal elections which may be sooner than we think,