A great political philosopher once said, ‘we found love in a hopeless place.’ Ok, so maybe it wasn’t a political philosopher….maybe it was Rihanna. But it is a bit of a battle cry for how we met. That hopeless place was Parliament Hill, and while neither of us set out to find love, it is one of the best things we accomplished as young political staffers. When, like most couples, we were planning the elements of our wedding and it was time to pick a song to enter our reception, the choice was easy. Rihanna and her witty words of wisdom summed it up nicely. We had found love in what is known to many as a hopeless place.
There are many people who look at politics through a cynical lens, and the bubble of political parties and the institutions they work within with an equal amount of disdain. But in actuality, to become engaged in the political sphere is to open up your world to an amazing amount of new and exciting opportunities. There is a widely held misconception that young people do not have an interest to engage in the political process. That could not be further from the truth. Just look at the data from the 2015 federal election. Young people made up the highest amount of increased engagement in the process than any other group. And this is the period in many peoples’ lives where they are forming their love based relationships. And that love can bloom in some pretty unexpected places!
The ACTION party is a great metaphor for our marriage. While we belong to the same political party, we arguably occupy differing spaces within that party in terms of our views. And that is ok, it works! We complement each other well, and ultimately our core values are the same. The ACTION party brings together people from many different spheres of politics, but we are all united by our support for Jewish political engagement. It is a union based on mutual respect for one another and the different strengths we all bring to the table.
They say you are nothing in politics without your reputation and the relationships you build. Any good relationship is based on respect for one another and the similarities that you share, but also the differences you each possess. That really is the epitome of politics.
We have attended the ACTION party for many years. Brian is a past co-chair of the party. This is one event we always prioritize. Because, like any good relationship, it takes work and it deserves to be nurtured. The objectives of the party are important for our community. Support for a mutual interest, the development of relationships that last, and the promotion of political engagement to make our world a better place. One of the best parts of the ACTION party is to step back for a moment and take in the surroundings. Watching people meet for the first time, or perhaps reunite after not seeing each other since the last event, you can see relationships building. And maybe, just maybe, you will see love bloom. A love for humanity, a love of the political process, a love of a good night shared with friends, and in some moments, a love between two people.
-Brian Kaufmann and Melissa Cotton-Kaufmann
Brian Kaufmann and Melissa Cotton-Kaufmann live in Ottawa, ON. Brian originally hails from Kimberley, BC and Melissa from Saskatoon, SK. They met in 2006 as young staffers on Parliament Hill. Life took them to Toronto from 2010-2016, when they returned to Ottawa, the place where their love bloomed. During their time in Toronto, Brian served on the ACTION party committee and was one of the co-chairs in 2015. Now settled again in Ottawa, they are back to where they first met, Parliament Hill. Brian is a senior policy advisor to the Minister of Health and Melissa is the Managing Director of the Liberal Research Bureau.