Our first meeting of the trip was with Chis Charlton, the Member of Parliament for Hamilton Mountain, and the Official Opposition Critic for Industry. It was appropriate that Chris was our first meeting given that she was once an Ontario Legislature Intern. Other common areas of interest were her attendance at the University of Western, where Mitch completed his degrees; and at McMaster University for her MA, which is where Melinda and Doug both completed their own degrees.
Naturally our discussion began with how her internship at the provincial level led to her current position as a Member of Parliament in Ottawa. Chris was able to provide personal experience and insight into navigating your way through politics in an effort to understand what you really want to do, and how you should go about getting there. She provided sound advice, recommending that we never give up, which is reflected in her own experience of only being elected after her sixth time running.
This discussion of getting into politics transitioned into the lack of women at all levels, and the reasons for this issue. Chris suggested that with such a focus on getting women into politics, the retention of women in these positions is often overlooked, resulting in fewer women staying in their position long-term. The lack of retention of women in politics can be attributed to the belief that women work differently than men, thereby not thriving in the political environment, according to Chris.
Something that personally intrigued me was her tribute to the Honourable Lincoln Alexander in the pursuit of a day of remembrance for him on January 21st. Naturally, as the member for Hamilton Mountain, she would lead this Bill considering that ‘Linc’ was from Hamilton. With this Bill just being passed at the provincial level and having had the opportunity to hear personal stories from various MPPs, it was great to hear Chris discuss her own personal thoughts and experiences.
We wish her all the best in her pursuit of passing this Bill, as well as creating progress and change through her involvement on various committees and in the House of Commons at the federal level. We are proud to have Chris Charlton as an OLIP Alumni, and we appreciated the time that she took away from her busy schedule to meet with us!