Meeting a politician for the first time can be very exciting, especially if you are a political fiend with signed pictures of your favourites (politicians, not movie stars or athletes). Meeting a politician for the first time can be a highlight for some, as one finally comes face-to-face with a role model or hero. It can also be a defining moment, which launches one into the political realm after being inspired by a political figure. This has happened a few times for me, as I have been motivated and encouraged by meeting some of my political heroes, such as Minister Ambrose, Minister Kenney, Minister Day, and, of course, Prime Minister Harper.
However, meeting a politician for the first time is not always simple. When nerves get in the way, sometimes we just don’t know what to say or how to act. It is as if our social skills, etiquette, and sweat glands are suddenly entirely out of our control. The first time I met Prime Minister Harper, I spent about 30 minutes crafting the perfect sentence to fit in before our picture was taken. Though I got dry-mouth and felt a little woozy, I said what I wanted to say and tried to act natural. In my mind, it was a pretty successful first meeting. Although, I have also had experiences when I just don’t know what to say and blurt something out – not always so successful or charming.
That being said, it is important to remember that politicians are people too, and we cannot always expect to have flawlessly designed statements to articulate. That is the same for politicians, as they do not always say the right things.
However, I think the most important thing to do when meeting a politician from any party is: be respectful. Just because a politician may not share the exact same political beliefs, that does not (usually) warrant disrespect. That is especially true as members of CJPAC, since we play an important role as ambassadors of the Jewish community to politicians. We must ensure that we are considerate of politicians at all levels of government and, in turn, they may value us and the organization we represent.