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I'm Asking All Conservatives For One Thing, Unity

05/24/2017 05:10 EDT | Updated 05/24/2017 05:10 EDT

Over the course of the leadership race for the Conservative Party of Canada, more than a dozen candidates presented their vision for the future of our party.

Thousands of party members -- old and new -- came out to events across the country and engaged in the selection of our next leader.

One question I was asked over and over again was why I was running.

My answer is always the same. It's about looking out for people who don't have a voice.

The values that motivate me in life, in business, and in politics are the ones that I learned growing up at the bottom of a hill in Whitney Pier. A steel town.

lisa raitt

Conservative leadership candidate Lisa Raitt speaks during the Conservative Party of Canada leadership debate in Toronto on Wednesday April 26, 2017. (Photo: Nathan Denette/CP)

Where if you didn't work with your hands, you didn't work.

The values I learned at the kitchen table in Cape Breton are the ones I brought to the boardroom table and to the cabinet table.

Every decision I've ever made at those tables took into consideration the impact they have on people and communities like the one I had to leave behind.

Over the past eight months, I traveled to every province and a territory, to communities large and small. In each I met people who feel ignored and sidelined.

I listened to them and I am running for them. To be a leader who fights for the striving many, not just the privileged few.

I understand what it feels like to have the odds stacked against me. I understand what it feels like to be underestimated.

I know what Canada looks like from the bottom and all of my policies are laser focused on creating opportunities for every striver -- at every age. This is how I give a voice to those who don't feel heard or understood or even acknowledged by this Liberal government.

To beat Justin Trudeau in 2019 we need to make gains on the east coast, in urban centres and with women. We need these voters to see themselves in our party. I represent all three. I've lived all these experiences and will always keep them in mind when making policy for Canadians.

Come Monday morning, many people in our party will still be reconciling themselves to the fact that, on issues of importance, they do not share the position of our new leader.

That's natural.

In fact, that's democracy.

But once the leadership race is over, there is only one shade of blue. Every single Conservative in Canada will need to ask ourselves the same question.

What's more important to me -- the last campaign, or the next one?

Debating amongst ourselves?

Or getting Justin Trudeau, his handlers, and his cardboard cutouts out of the Prime Minister's Office?

No matter who prevails Saturday night, I'm asking all Conservatives for one thing. Unity.

Every single Conservative in the country should be proud of the diversity of opinion on offer in this campaign.

It is our responsibility, as Conservatives, to rally behind our new leader, the way a previous generation -- Reformers and Tories, from east and west rallied behind Stephen Harper.

The lesson of our party's history is clear.

When we're united we win.

When we're divided, we don't.

When we focus on providing an effective alternative to the Liberals -- we govern.

When we focus on providing effective alternatives to each other -- the Liberals get a free ride.

Every single Conservative in the country should be proud of the diversity of opinion on offer in this campaign. Traditionalists. Modernizers. Fiscal conservatives. Social conservatives. Libertarians. Law-and-Order advocates.

In this party we unite around shared principles of responsibility, hard work, family and faith -- but recognize there are many potential paths through which we can turn these principles into action.

The cost of this diversity -- real diversity -- is that not everybody gets everything they want.

Because, make no mistake, there are issues on which my vision, ideas and values, strongly differ from my fellow candidates.

But we can remain united, while holding true to the issues that motivate us and the causes that drive us by focusing on the values that unite us.

If we stay true to this -- hold on to our optimism -- and stay together as a unified party, these are the principles that will lead us to victory in 2019.

HuffPost Canada reached out to each Conservative party leadership candidate to offer an opportunity to contribute a final pitch to voters ahead of the upcoming leadership convention.

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