Liberal MP Martha Findlay talks gender politics

“I did not even belong to a political party until five years ago,” said Martha Hall Findlay, Liberal MP for Willowdale, following her visit to Wilfrid Laurier University on Sunday afternoon.

Invited by the WLU Young Liberals, Findlay discussed with students their engagement in politics and current struggles with partisanship.

In an interview with The Cord, Findlay explained, “I found that all of the different parties had policies I time-to-time agreed with.”

However, Findlay eventually found her home in the Liberal Party, appreciating their approach to economics and social policies.

“It’s not just looking at the numbers … it’s what you do [with] those and your abilities to enhance socially progressive policies and help those who need it,” said Findlay.

Recognizing those party values that she shares with the Young Liberals, Findlay proudly carried a Laurier mug given to her by the campus club to the televised meeting of the government services committee on Monday.

Regardless of political affiliation, Findlay is a strong promoter of political engagement among all Canadians, particularly women.

“It’s not that [women] do things differently necessarily, or we’re necessarily better at it, but we’re 52 per cent of the population and we should be at the table when policies are determined,” said Findlay.

As important as it is for young women to be involved in politics, Findlay noted the difficulties for women, in being the primary caregivers for children and elderly parents, as well as often being responsible for planning events within social groups.

“People have talked about things like we should have better daycare on parliament hill and I say, ‘Well that’s not recognizing the reality of politics; it’s not nine to five.’”

In light of this, Findlay offers a solution involving engaging women who have their family-lives and careers more stable.

“When it comes to running for public office, I keep saying we need to get more old farts like me because my kids have grown up,” she explained.

“I’m now in the position that I’ve had great careers, great kids, and now have the experience and ability to contribute to what I think is really important and that’s giving back.”

Her years of experience as a lawyer and business owner allow her to be critical of Canada’s economy and international relations.

“You can’t really do much if you do not have a really strong, productive, globally competitive economy,” said Findlay.

With the new budget released, Findlay remains concerned for the spending habits of the current government.

“Before we agreed we were in a recession and needed some stimulus this government had already just had the two largest spending budgets in Canadian history.”

To correct the economic state of the country coming out of the recession, Findlay said the government must address long-term issues that will have further negative implications.

“You see an aging population and the effect that that will have on health care costs, on pensions, on just the fact that there are a whole lot of people in this country that are not ready for retirement financially.”

A plan to manage these challenges is one that Findlay felt the budget did not present.

“I’m very worried right now that with this budget it’s just going to completely postpone the problem,” she said.

In considering the impact of the world’s finances, particularly that of the United States, Findlay attributes our comparatively stable economy to Canada’s history of strong financial management. It is that responsible management that she intends for us to continue.

“I want to see Canada with the most prosperous successful economy that we can have and we use that to further the goals of social justice and international peace and prosperity.”