Throughout my time being involved in politics I have met so many individuals that have shaped me in so many different ways. I’ve had mentors, mentees, peers and – most importantly – good friends. Most of the people I’ve met in politics, however, are Liberal members or supporters. We agree on most things relating to politics because of this, and therefore we do not argue much, but rather have discussions about how we can advance our common goals. In spite of this, the person who has perhaps shaped me the most is one of my best friends who, you may be shocked to hear, happens to be a Conservative (gasp! – just kidding.)
In ninth grade this Conservative friend of mine came to my school and we hit it off immediately. She was intelligent, funny, and personable – all the things I was looking for in a friend. Our relationship was even more special because we did not agree on much.
We were both teenage girls from Toronto from Jewish families who were interested in politics, and yet we disagreed on so many issues. We were in the same gym class, and we used to run laps around the field together vehemently debating our, at times, opposing views on Israel, Judaism, Canadian politics, et cetera.
For many people, to be such close friends with someone who you completely disagree with can be a daunting task – and many friendships and relationships fail because of this. I, on the other hand, appreciate the relationship I have with this truly amazing person because we disagree so much. I’ve learnt more about the world largely because of the fact there is so much that we discuss and debate because of our differences of opinions, and I feel that I have expanded my ability to listen and consider different political opinions because I am hearing them being advocated for by someone I completely respect and admire, and who can personalize them to me in a way all the chaos of politics sometimes can’t.
Almost four years after first meeting this truly incredible friend of mine, we are even closer. We will frequently argue about the subject material in courses we are taking that relates to politics (namely in history and philosophy), but I always feel that after talking to her I have a greater understanding of the topic and the other side of the argument.
While many people view the House of Commons as a waste of Members of Parliament’s breath, I see it as an opportunity to have great discussions with people who you do not agree with, but who you can hopefully still respect. I hope that MPs see this opportunity and can work towards it.
Although my best friend and I may not agree with each other on the finer points of issues, at the end of the day we have the same core values and principles, and we have a great time spending time together. One could even say that our lunch dates are a mini and less diverse House of Commons debate.
I’m so lucky to have all the people I have met in politics in my life – regardless of their political affiliations. Our views constantly evolve, and if they’re not strong enough or we are not certain of ourselves enough to be willing to debate and discuss them with others, then maybe it’s time for re-evaluation.
I’d encourage everyone to reach across sometimes trench-like political lines and extend their hand. Perhaps not in agreement on principles, but rather in understanding that by doing so, you are taking the first step towards working together and expanding your horizons.
After all – bipartisan friends are the best kind of friends.