In May 2015, I volunteered for the Liberal campaign in my riding of Leeds and Grenville.
Now, most of you are thinking, “How can someone go from the Liberal campaign to TheRebel.media in only nine months?" That's exactly the story I plan to tell.
Why did I volunteer for the Liberals? It really starts in Grade 8, watching The Rick Mercer Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Royal Canadian Air Farce and The Colbert Report. Sure, these shows were mainly for lefties, but I still enjoyed the humour and they gave me some introductory knowledge of politics. They also left me with the impression that politics was all about making fun of people who didn't agree with you.
By Grade 10, I had matured to the point where I begin to read some political texts. Although both the Communist Manifesto and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged influenced my political leanings, I left high school with an incredibly left leaning mind because that is how the institution wants you to think.
I was never introduced to the flip side of leftwing arguments. In fact, I only learned how capitalism works thanks to reading books and watching Prager U videos. Only one teacher ever mentioned capitalism and that was because he felt we needed "a second opinion."
This is why most people my age are so ignorant that they issue anti-capitalist tirades from their MacBooks without any sense of irony. They weren't taught that everything that is good in their lives came about because amazing innovators were able to sell products and grow their businesses in a free market environment.
Then came university, which is definitely not a forum for open discussion. I was your typical pot smoking liberal, surrounded by thirty others more or less like me. Only one kid could safely have been said to believe in conservative values. I almost felt bad for him. How did he sit there, in a class of people entirely against him, and express those opinions? I remember thinking to myself, "Why couldn't he just understand he was wrong?”
I dropped out of university after my first year due to poor performance. I would give excuses like anyone else, blaming ADHD or not having prepared enough, but it all boiled down to effort. Effort I just wasn't willing to give.
Then came the Parliament Hill attacks in October 2014. During a conversation with someone devalued the incident and blamed our country, I found myself disagreeing. It became clearer to me that many people didn't understand the real problems this world was facing, and I wanted to try to change that.
At this point I was torn between two parties: Either the Conservatives for their strong leadership style and love of Canadian values, or the Justin Trudeau-led Liberals as, since high school, I had always been a big fan of Pierre Trudeau. To be honest the only reasons I could give were his patriation of the constitution and his role in the FLQ crisis. (My opinions on both topics have since changed...).
I returned to university to achieve my reinvigorated goal of getting involved in politics. I emailed local parties to see who was looking for volunteers. The first and most eager response I received was from the Liberal Party less than a day later. I was a little upset that the Conservatives hadn't responded to my email. (I would later find my email to them in my "drafts" folder, unsent. I doubt I would even have to tell this story if I'd noticed that earlier...)
I read every news article I could about the election, and as a Liberal volunteer, I couldn't help being discouraged. All signs pointed towards another Conservative majority. As for me, I was now the vice president of the Young Liberals of Leeds Grenville and still believed the Liberals were the best choice for Canada. I posted constantly on Facebook, criticizing the Harper government and promoting Liberal platforms.
At this time, I had a very close personal friend who'd gone MIA for a long period. He would appear briefly and spout his right wing ideologies and I would argue with him, stating that you need big government and that taxes are okay. We'd spend hours talking about these topics and the more we'd talk and the more articles he'd send me, the more I found myself questioning my beliefs.
Your arguments can only be refuted so many times before realize their must be something wrong with your beliefs.
I was experiencing a lot of regret and anxiety about starting university again and canvassing for the Liberals. both these things. Eventually I cut off contact with the riding association except to congratulate the candidate on her performance. (Despite losing, she had the best showing of any Liberal candidate in nearly 11 years.)
By the time the election rolled around I had decided I was voting Conservative. My family is highly conservative and talking with them online and off had an affect on my views. At a family gathering, I spent much of my time talking with my cousin’s husband about the election and why we both felt it was important for the Conservatives to win. We were very disappointed when they didn't.
Believe me, you don't make a lot of new friends at my age with you tell people you were disappointed with Justin's victory. It's hard to live in a society that is quick to condemn my beliefs as racist, ignorant or elitist. We are supposed to live in a country that respects all opinions, but I honestly don't believe that is the case right now.
Having said that, I'm interested to see how my generation progresses; we are the demographic that voted in this government, and I can't wait to see what they say when we're all forced to pay for their poor decisions.