If a window of opportunity opens, grab at it.
That’s the advice of Deb Grey, who entered politics on a dare only to make history by winning the Reform Party’s first seat in parliament.
Grey, speaking at this year’s Inspiring Women event, said it was a neighbour who challenged her to run as an MP for the Reform Party of Canada in 1989, which didn’t yet have a candidate for its Beaver River, Alta. riding. She won a byelection with 50 per cent of the vote, building a political resumé that would see her become the first female leader of the Official Opposition and interim head of a review committee for Canada’s spy agency CSIS.
That win, “it gave us a beachhead in Ottawa – that was the start of it all,” she said, adding the party went from one seat in 1989 to 52 in 1993. And it all started from getting an opportunity and grabbing it.
“With so many opportunities you get the chance to do something and if you don’t just grab it then that window closes and you think years later, gee, I wonder what that would have been like,” she said.
Grey will be joining Paxie Vreede, a retired Nanaimo doctor, and Anne Taylor, executive director of Haven Society, at this year’s Inspiring Women event celebrating International Women’s Day.
“It’s an opportunity to bring women together and when we can inspire each other to see what the future has, what the opportunities are, anything is possible,” said event host Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, who says the most important thing about International Women’s Day is not where we’ve come from, but where we’re going.
“It’s not what stands in our way anymore, it’s how to break down those barriers and what we’re going to achieve.”
Inspiring Women takes place from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday (March 7) at the Grand Hotel. Tickets for the afternoon tea and talk are $35 and must be purchased in advance at 250-758-3000. Proceeds go to the Haven Society.
Other International Women’s Day events include a luncheon by the Zonta Club of Nanaimo at noon Friday (March 6) at the Nanaimo Golf Club. Tickets are $35. Please call 250-754-5226.
Vancouver Island University hosts an International Women’s Day Panel and Reception Monday (March 9) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with five students from India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt. They will discuss what being Muslim means to them, their perspective on Islam with respect to women’s issues and the cultural and political realities of living as a Muslim woman abroad and in Canada, in Room 203, Building 355.