I was at Progress Summit this weekend. It’s a nice time to get into the weeds a little bit on lefty politics and see people that I don’t get to see often. Also this year I got to see Gloria Steinem and Cindy Blackstock speak.

But then came one of the main events – the debate on proportional representation. The pro side was represented by pundit Andrew Coyne and Alex Himelfarb, former Clerk of the Privy Council. The con side was represented by Michelle Rempel, Conservative MP and pundit Tasha Kheiriddin, who both happen to reside on the right.

One of my favourite panels at the 2015 summit was about lessons that the left could learn from the right with Kheiriddin and Tim Powers. I firmly believe that one of the best ways to learn about your movement is to listen to people outside of it.

I’m also not sure where I sit on proportional representation. There are all sorts of electoral systems and each one has its pros and cons. I don’t believe in the argument that votes don’t count under our current system and I also know that many Canadians are not engaged enough to care to learn a new, more complicated system. But the Trudeau government has said that there will be change, and so we need to debate that change.

The debate started off well, with digs all around and good-natured laughter and then they got into the thick of things.

And I grew more and more angry.

You see, socialists like to think highly of themselves. We’re good people, we’re for equity. we’re feminists who fight for gay rights, we look for fairness and offer access to everyone. We take care of each other.

Unless, apparently, you’re a Conservative who is a star of the caucus (and should run for leader).

I spent an hour growing more and more angry at the treatment of this woman who agreed to attend an event that presumably is outside her comfort zone. Though she does spend weeks in the House of Commons. I watched as people laughed at her, heckled her, scoffed at the words coming out of her mouth, all while she tried to take part in a legitimate, fair debate.

At one point, apparently, her body language portrayed that she might be upset or uncomfortable and the three people in front of me were absolutely delighted that the crowd had managed this.

There are problems with PR, and especially problems we need to talk about because we don’t know what form of PR we’re looking at yet. If we’re looking at a list system then we have to talk about party control, we may see a rise in ideological parties like UKIP and more regional parties like the Bloc Quebecois and that’s something people should be aware of. Changing the electoral system will change the political system. There will be gains and consequences. But this room didn’t want to hear it.

A room full of people who probably take such pride in being feminists and calling for more women in politics. As long as they are a particular type of woman.

I’ve talked before about respect I have for Michelle Rempel. I think she should run for the leadership. I think she’d part of the future of this country. Maybe if she wins the leadership these socialists will think she’s won their respect.

Of course, she doesn’t have to.

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