Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Women in Politics is a new regular column by veteran political journalist Jane Taber. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

To get to Parliament Hill, Rachael Harder, the 29-year-old rookie Conservative MP for Lethbridge, Alta., first crushed her opponents – three well-established men about 30 years her senior – in a nomination battle a year before the general election.

More than 2,500 delegates turned out, and Ms. Harder won on the third ballot with more than 60-per-cent support.

Story continues below advertisement

Then, last fall, she thumped the NDP candidate – a well-known woman in the community – who was considered a threat, given the NDP's success provincially.

Along the way, she sought out key players in Lethbridge – a conservative community that had never elected a female MP – who would champion her bid for public office, cold-calling some and convincing others over coffee.

It was a game plan deployed with precision and finesse, and it reads like a how-to manual for women wanting to run for political office.

"Of course, women should enter the political arena," she said this week in an interview. "They shouldn't wait for someone to pursue them. Go for it. If you've got the passion … the vision … the drive … jump in."

Ms. Harder grew up on a farm in Kathryn, Alta. She said she and her four siblings were brought up in a Christian family – her faith is very important to her – but it was not a political family.

She moved to Lethbridge to attend university and stayed, researching and working as a consultant on youth issues, and volunteering for a number of organizations.

When she was 25 – two years before the nomination in the redistributed riding – she decided she was going for it. She joined the party.

Story continues below advertisement

In Alberta, winning a federal nomination as a Conservative candidate is typically the hard part, but pretty much guarantees winning in the general election. But Ms. Harder said she picked the Conservatives because the party's values align with hers. "I am strategic but I am also principled."

Meanwhile, she had met Preston Manning, the former Reform Party leader, through her work. He became a mentor, she said.

Next, she called Ray Speaker, the well-respected former Tory MP for the riding. She didn't know him, and asked him out for coffee.

"I knew I couldn't do it on my own and I knew that I didn't want to," she said. "I looked in my community and I started finding those people who I felt would be good contributors to my team and I began having conversations around my passion, my vision and my drive to become a member of Parliament."

Mr. Speaker, who left Parliament Hill in 1997, said he gave Ms. Harder advice about how to put together an organization. He said she got it. He said he also met with one of her three opponents, who just didn't get it.

"Most people think: 'Oh, I'll get the money first and then I'll build an organization because I'll hire people,'" he said. "But it doesn't work that way. First of all you put the people together … and once you have the people together they'll sell memberships and collect money for you."

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Speaker became a fan.

Next, she met two community leaders who ended up becoming her campaign co-chairs. One was Rick Dempsey, a local businessman.

"She brought me out of [political] retirement," Mr. Dempsey said, adding that he "grilled her for two hours" when they first met. "Just because of her age I thought she wouldn't be qualified," he said, but she convinced him otherwise. "And that's why I jumped on board."

Her age was an issue during the nomination campaign. Ms. Harder, who is 6-foot-1, said she was labelled as a "little girl" by opponents. She found it demeaning, but considered it an indication she was becoming a serious contender.

Alex Hann, who works with people with developmental disabilities and is a former mayor of a nearby town, was one of her opponents for the nomination. He was 59 at the time and said that running against a young woman "was very difficult."

"I didn't want to be the cranky old man," he said, adding that he tried to run a positive campaign and thought he had a good shot.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Harder had a better one: "I knew that probably my best strategy was to let them write me off, let me be the underdog …" she said. "I didn't want to come out strong … I wanted to build quietly behind the scenes and come in for the win in the end."

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies