June 24th, 2024

Mother would have had advice for Thomas

By Lethbridge Herald on March 9, 2022.


To Rachael Thomas,

I hadn’t realized my hometown of Lethbridge had finally elected a woman as MP until I ran across your Feb. 4th article in the Toronto Sun, where you express support for the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.

My mother, Frances Grantham, was the first woman to run for MP in the Lethbridge riding. It was 1965. I was six years old, and I remember it well. I followed her from her nomination to election night. I was acutely aware her party was very different from the others.

She would have been 89 years old when you were first elected in 2016. Were she still alive, she would have congratulated you on your nomination which you won against a “caste” of older men with established reputations in the Conservative party. That is no small feat. She was herself up against the same establishment as a candidate.

Sadly, my mother’s life was cut short by cancer when she was only 52. But she remained an activist to the end. So, I wondered what her response might have been to your column if she were still with us.  And here’s how I imagine it might have read:

Dear Ms. Thomas,

 I applaud you for wading into the crowd outside Parliament Hill, talking to participants, and listening to what they had to say, especially women and mothers, whose opinions and day-to-day experiences were regularly ignored or mocked at the time I was standing for public office.  

My over-arching reason for running amongst a field of men was to bring forward women’s perspectives. I was at that time a mother to three young children. 

While we hold democracy sacred, the politics of it are very much a reflection of those who formed the first Parliament in Canada, and whose presence has dominated it since 1867.  Women are still significantly underrepresented in the House of Commons.  As of this year, we have dropped from 50th place to 61st in terms of gender representation (Kazakhstan is 60th). 

The layout of the House of Commons and its proceedings create more division than debate. Much of question period is simply a shouting match, the verbal equivalent of tackle football.

 What if the House of Commons was, just for a few terms, made up entirely of women, to balance the all-male or mostly male parliaments of the past?  What if these women created new procedures that looked different than the posturing and positioning currently in place?  What if there didn’t have to be one-upmanship, but rather, an obvious sense of unity of purpose amidst the disagreement?

 If you can imagine yourself in such a new Parliament, would you also approach the women and children of Ottawa who live or work or play downtown, who need access to services, and who have been subjected to the incessant blaring of horns from bunkers on wheels driven almost exclusively by men?  Would you call for “a swift resolution” as you did when you asked for the highway to be cleared at the Coutts border for the sake of farmers and small businesses? 

Would you feel as obliged to take sides in favour of your party or would you be interested in what women who may not vote Conservative are experiencing?

 Would you resist the temptation to accuse your sister Parliamentarians of hypocrisy and be more reflective of whether you are applying your principles equally? 

What kind of conversation would you have about the calls by the convoy leaders to dismantle a duly elected government?

 Would you, in such a women’s Parliament, discuss what the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors must feel seeing the Nazi flag waved by some of the protesters? Would you be willing to approach those flag-wavers and talk to them about how those children feel? And would you feel safe in doing so?

 Finally, how would this women’s Parliament resolve the matter of ICUs filled with the ill and dying, made up primarily of the unvaccinated? Would you consult nurses, of whom 90 per cent are women and who provide these patients with the needed care? Would you expect them to carry on as usual, sacrificing their physical and mental health as so many have during this pandemic? Or would you seek realistic alternatives?

 In the absence of an all-women Parliament, there is the all-party Women’s Parliamentary Caucus. Are you a member? Are you meeting and sharing the stories of women who are being impacted by the pandemic and by the protests?

Ms. Thomas, you have opportunity on a scale that I could only imagine in 1965. Reach across the aisle to your sister parliamentarians. 

With the skills, talent and heart that got all 29 per cent of you elected, you may be able to come up with proposals that would be more than welcome to the 50 per cent of the population that currently stands underrepresented.

Frances Joyce Grantham

b. 1927, d. 1980.

 My mother was an idealist. This imagining is probably too ideal, even for her. She always knew what she was up against. But perhaps you might be able to see greater possibilities than pandering to the anti-democratic minority this convoy represents.

Rachel Grantham

Whitehorse, Yukon

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old school

“resolve the matter of ICUs filled- – – – primarily unvaccinated “ .Interesting letter,but you should check your stats. They are not right.

Fedup Conservative

So why don’t you be a hero and tell Rachel and tell her what she has wrong? I’m betting she is a lot smarter than you.


The big-picture point made by the author of the letter is that one’s chances of a bad outcome after contracting COVID-19 — so being sick enough to end up in hospital, being admitted to the ICU, or dying — are considerably higher if you are not vaccinated. Below is a quote from Health Canada’s “COVID-19 daily epidemiology update” for March 9. The data are for Canada as a whole, and I see little reason to think they don’t apply to Alberta.

“From January 23, 2022 to February 20, 2022, compared to fully vaccinated cases, unvaccinated cases were 4 times more likely to be hospitalized and 5 times more likely to die as a result of their illness. Compared to cases fully vaccinated with an additional dose, unvaccinated cases were 11 times more likely to be hospitalized and 15 times more likely to die as a result of their illness, during this same 4-week period.”

It is also reported that as February 20, 2022, the unvaccinated accounted for 64% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations and 63% of all COVID-19 deaths. By contrast, those with two shots and a booster accounted for 7% of hospitalizations and 9% of deaths.


if one is old – as in already past the average life span in our society – they are more likely to benefit from the covid vaxes. mind you, it does not appear there has been much done to determine the extent to which a placebo effect may play a role. regardless, covid has killed tiny fraction of our population, and the world pop. coivd has hardly been a threat to the vast majority of humans. not saying to not vax – that is one’s choice – or, that should be one’s choice. but hardly is it a choice when people get so frightened that they become so irrational so as to see freedom as being govt ownership over one’s body. no right to choice; no right to conscience. great stuff, if you appreciate mussolini, hitler and stalin.
the real marvel of the covid scare has been the “science” around the vaxes. the “science” that has changed numerous times. that makes it a “science” based on alternative “scientific facts.” alternative facts and alternative science…and alternative freedom that is based on a most fundamental tenet of fascism, totalitarianism, and autocracy.

Elohssa Gib

I’m surprised that for an “old school” guy that the concept of proportions is so difficult to grasp.
There are 4.46 million people in Alberta, 3.4 million (76%) of whom have had at least two shots. There are just under 1 million Albertans who are unvaccinated. Obviously some of that group will have contracted the virus and will have some level of natural immunity. That said, the absolute number of unvaccinated cases in hospital and ICU expressed as a percentage of the unvaccinated population is higher than for the vaccinated population, especially those who have received three doses.

But don’t worry, our federal MP has had trouble with the concept as well.


Got that right. These folks below who commented don’t get it. Our family is not vaccinated and the only people we know getting sick are those that have had the shot(s). People need to start questioning the media and government – where are the local news folk telling us daily about new covid case records, AKA fear mongering. Also, AHS is allowing unvaccinated staff back to work, while CBC is putting out articles that with doctors saying more boosters…enough already of this BS.


Back up the truck — The AHS position on unvaccinated staff is not quite the way you have framed it. AHS was directed by the Minister on orders from the Premier to allow unvaccinated staff back to work. Just one more self-serving decision taken by Kenny in recent weeks, eager to shore up support for his upcoming leadership review.

As for your first point, please explain why we should generalize based on your personal experience, whereas on the other side the coin, we have evidence-based policy drawing on thousands upon thousands of cases.

Last edited 2 years ago by Older-Than-Old-School

right on!

Southern Albertan

It may be interesting to see what happens to the catering of the radical right wing fringe by the Conservative Party of Canada when they elect a new leader, perhaps a more centrist leader, likely, Jean Charest. Would he or anyone leading this party be able to generate unity?

Guy Lethbridge

Timely letter given it was International Woman’s Day on the 8th. I applaud diversity. That said, it would be difficult to elect a worse MP. Has nothing to do with gender.




the greater reality is that the masses are hardly represented.