STELLARTON – Lisa MacLeod’s parents did not want her to move to Ottawa all those years ago.
But she did it anyway.
She did not have a place to live. What she did have was a student loan, a car loan, $200 in her pocket. And a whole lot of moxy.
She has not looked back.
MacLeod was first elected to the Ontario Legislature in 2006 for the Nepean-Carlton riding in Ottawa. She was the youngest MPP in that parliament and the youngest Conservative woman to be elected in Ontario – either federally or provincially. She was recently appointed to the Doug Ford majority government as the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, and Minister responsible for Women’s Issues; this also includes the portfolios of immigration and anti-racism.
She spoke at the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce business breakfast last week while in town to attend her 25th high school reunion. The daughter of Virginia MacLeod and the late Danny MacLeod, a former town councillor in New Glasgow, she spoke about her life and the impact her Pictou County roots have had on her life.
In March, MacLeod received a national award for the advancement of women in politics. “I got to tell the story about how my mom managed my aunt Ina’s campaign for school board trustee back in the early 80s,” she laughed. “That was when women really weren’t involved in politics that much.”
“It was really my decision to run for office 13 years ago that really set me on the path to where I’m at today.”
She has served four times in Opposition — “fifth time was the charm,” she joked. In that time she held most of the roles in Opposition, some of them very high profile, and is now a senior member of the Ontario Legislature – “at the ripe old age of 43.”
She spoke in glowing terms about current Premier Doug Ford, calling him “an amazing guy.”
She likened Ford to her late father in that “he’s open and approachable, he’s very grassroots oriented, he’s not ideological-driven, he’s extremely loyal. And these are all characteristics that serve me well because I am Danny’s daughter.”
She noted Ford’s motivations “come from the same type of motivations that the people of Pictou County have in just helping other people. I think that’s really refreshing.”
During her time in the Ontario Legislature MacLeod served under five different leaders. “No one that I served under ever gave that level of loyalty that Doug Ford has.”
MacLeod also outlined her government’s plans for issues around mental health and hydro rates, among others.
“Every day in the Legislature I often think of my roots from Pictou County and there’s not a speech I give that I don’t tell people about this community,” she praised.
“The strong rural roots that I have from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia have really been part of my values when I stand in the Ontario Legislature.”
Her family and the community in general have helped shape who she is today.
“I want you all to know you’ve had a big impact on my life. I may have been away from here for 25 years and I know this community has changed a great deal, but the upbringing that this community has given me — particularly from my family — has really impacted my life and I carry the lessons you’ve all taught me with me every day.”
Lisa MacLeod, right, member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, welcomed family members to a business breakfast hosted by the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce last week at the Holiday Inn in Stellarton where she was guest speaker. With her, from the left, are her sister Sheri Greene, her daughter Victoria Varner, and her mother, Virginia MacLeod. (Jardine photo)