Identity politics can only divide.
To focus on what makes us different, whether that's race, gender or religion, rather than what we have in common has never served to bring people together.
Identity politics is only a tool of destruction. For one group to advance, they must tear down and destroy, which inevitably leads to a counter group rising up with an equally destructive response.
People use it to build their reputation, to advance favour for their particular group and to secure positions for their individual advancement. It is destroying politics within our country.
That’s why I was deeply disturbed last week by the actions of a newly formed group called the Association of Black Conservatives (ABC).
For over twenty years as I have served within various communities, I have had many Liberal and NDP friends tell me I didn't belong in the Conservative party. I have been told to my face more than once that I cannot be a conservative, not because of my beliefs, but because of my skin colour.
I’ve been told that I will never be accepted because of how I look — and ironically here I am surrounded by a steadily growing movement, running for the leadership of this party.
But, in the Conservative party, I have always found a family. A family that believes that it is how you think and how you act that matters above all else. A family that has embraced me and propelled me onto the final ballot. More than 3,000 CPC members signed my nomination papers, from over 30 riding in this country, across all 10 provinces. Over 3,000 Canadians believed in my conservative vision for Canada and generously donated over $300,000 in order to meet the record threshold our party had set.
So I was surprised when I discovered that members of ABC, claiming to represent the voice of black conservatives, began a smear campaign against me because my basic conservative values “did not represent black people”.
From members of this group there began to be a whisper campaign against me as a poor representation “of black women”. Using the labels that leftists often use against us as conservatives — to silence me!
Because I believe in fair and legal immigration which includes closing the illegal border crossing at Roxham Road. I was told this was “racist against black people.”
My common sense gun policies were wrong “for a black person”, despite my proposal that the $450 million wasted to buyback arms from law abiding citizens should be reallocated towards helping inner city youth to prevent them from getting involved in crime; and to help stop smuggling of firearms at the borders.
The fact that I did an interview with Rebel Media was argued to be proof that I didn’t care about black people.
More “proof” that I didn’t meet their standard? Because as a student I had invited Preston Manning - one of the founding fathers of our modern conservative movement, and a man that I strongly align with on faith issues - to speak at my university.
This was apparently a betrayal of the black community because, as the angry individual within the ABC said, and I quote: “Preston Manning should be consigned to the dustbin of history - f*** Preston Manning”.
These attacks have nothing to do with conservative ideas: they are tired liberal talking points.
Our party represents the average person by standing for family values, small businesses, and opportunity for everyone.
When I received the questionnaire from ABC for my endorsement I was horrified to see that the “executive leaders” had put together a list of identity focused questions that completely negated my existence in the race. You can see a copy of the questionnaire here. A member of my team reached out to them to modify the questionnaire to more accurately reflect conservative values and the need for mentorship and not quotas.
They displayed no understanding of the conservative principles of freedom and opportunity.
They didn’t care what I had done for my country, or the community, they only cared about what I was going to do for them personally. The organization was playing into identity politics and it was clear that individuals sought only to advance their own careers.
I believe in our grassroots Conservative members. I believe in doing politics differently — by operating with integrity and having truthful and honest discussions with my Conservative family.
I have had the opportunity in my life to help lift up those who needed help. I am the recipient of many community awards, including the highest award granted in the black community — the Harry Jerome award.
Some of these awards were granted for helping young people who were black...and others were earned for helping people who were not black. I believe in humanity, and I have spent a lot of time changing lives in prisons, inner city schools and women’s shelters — attempting to make a positive impact.
Last week it became public that the ABC found a home in Erin O'Toole's campaign, and I have had respectful conversations with him about the fact that I believe that he is being used.
I believe that Liberals within the organization are using this as a trial run as to how they will attack me. They will use people from within my community to attack me because Justin Trudeau’s usual attacks won’t work against me.
I trust in the membership of this party. I have received thousands of lovely emails and messages from Conservatives of every race, culture and language standing with me.
Standing united because of our shared values, not because of our skin colour.
This is the Conservative party that I have always known and found myself at home in.
This is the kind of Conservative party we will keep building together.
This is the kind of Conservative party that will defeat the Liberals' destructive identity politics.