Melissa Lantsman – A Woman of Consequence
Melissa Lantsman has taken the House of Commons by storm. One of Parliament’s quickest-rising Conservative voices, she was elected MP for the Thornhill constituency in 2021 and appointed deputy opposition leader by Pierre Poilievre in 2022.
Lantsman’s story is typical of someone who grew up interested in politics, but her presence in politics is anything but typical. She was young when she first became involved, volunteering in political and community organizations throughout her teen years. Eventually, she graduated into larger roles, working in communications for the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper’s government and gaining experience outside her community.
Lantsman’s goal was always to establish herself as a community builder. “I have always said that I wanted to run one day, and that opportunity presented itself a bit earlier than I imagined,” she says with a laugh and adds, “You don’t get to choose your time in politics.”
Lantsman’s fearlessness makes her one of the most recognizable voices in Parliament. Within her constituency and across the country, Lantsman is admired for giving Canadians from all demographics and backgrounds a voice. For someone of her success, Lantsman remains modest. “It has everything to do with the people you surround yourself with,” she says. “There are so many people in my orbit who have helped me achieve my early success in being a representative of Thornhill.”
Lantsman’s upbringing as a first-generation Canadian has provided her critical insight into the lives of Canadians today, especially those new to the country. In the 1970s, her parents, Ora and Michael Lantsman immigrated to Canada from the former Soviet Union, settling in the Thornhill riding, where Melissa was born and raised. Her ability to speak English, French, and Russian results from her resilient parents and the comfortable environment they provided her as a child.
Michael Lantsman came to this country as an uncredentialed engineer and remained so due to a lack of options. With a child in tow (Melissa’s older brother), Michael turned to driving a taxi to put his wife through school. Melissa’s parents spent years working tirelessly to raise their children in a home in a safe neighbourhood where they could receive a good education. “I come from the same story as many Canadians,” Lantsman says. “In one generation, my family made it from the front seat of a taxi to the front row of Parliament Hill. That can happen in Canada.”
Lantsman’s parents made many sacrifices that helped their daughter get to where she is today. “The way I see it now is . . . if the cycle was repeated today, within the last eight years, the same promise does not exist,” she said. “You can come here and drive a taxi or an Uber, but you can’t afford to own a home in a safe neighbourhood and make sure that your family has opportunity. I learned from my parents’ sacrifices to ensure that the next generation of immigrant children have similar opportunities.”
Lantsman is proud to be a part of a Conservative Party that values merit-based success. The first openly gay Jewish woman to become an MP, she celebrates the diversity found in her party. “This is a country where everyone should achieve their goals based on merit. I hold a lot of identities, and I am all of those things, but they’re not checkboxes for me. I was raised in a family where if you work hard, you should be able to get ahead,” Lantsman says. “That’s the country we want to build for the next generation. The party we built respects everybody, no matter your name, colour, language, or religion, there is a home for you in the Conservative Party.”
Lantsman is a fierce community advocate and volunteer, and before being elected office, she was one of Canada’s most sought-after public affairs executives. A University of Toronto alum, she spent 39 years becoming closely acquainted with her north-of-Toronto community. She now lives there with her wife, litigator Lauren Rakowski.
Lantsman’s strong connection to her community fosters a strong relationship with her constituents. “I find inspiration in the people I represent. I live the highest of the highs with them and see the lowest of the lows. I can see both how people celebrate and how they handle challenges . . . It’s the everyday people that inspire me. I’m humbled every day that they trust me.”
If Pierre Poilievre wins the next federal election, Lantsman will undoubtedly remain one of his most trusted advisors. While Canada faces a multitude of urgent issues, Lantsman describes a ‘common sense Conservative plan.’ She says, “There is no question that there is a cost-of-living crisis. Our plan is very simple. It’s a common-sense plan to lower prices, make paycheques more powerful, build more homes that people can actually afford, make sure our streets are safer, and enforce the principle of freedom.”
In the last eight years, violent crime has increased by 32 percent across the country, 90 percent when you look at gang-related crime. In January of 2023, Lantsman called for an emergency debate in Parliament on the rise in violence in the Toronto area, on the TTC, and across Canada. She is passionate that these issues are resolvable with the proper action but that the necessary solutions are being neglected. “We have a catch-and-release justice system which lets violent offenders back into the streets to victimize Canadians and lower the safety of our communities,” she says. “We need to get serious about jail time and no bail for repeat violent offenders.”
A lack of coordination between systems designed to help Canadians in mental health crises, those with substance abuse disorders, and those living in poverty pushes thousands of Canadians onto the streets. Lantsman states, “We need real change to expand access to treatment and recovery services to bring our loved ones home drug-free.” She says, “These are policy failures, not a failure of Canadians. We can’t keep blaming the system for failure. We need to change the system.”
Lantsman is a prominent speaker on Bill C-18, an act that was designed to supposedly enhance the economic relationship between news businesses and online platforms. The law was enacted this past July and has since restricted news sharing on Instagram and Facebook, posing concerns about harm to small news businesses and an overall decrease in news accessibility. Lantsman states, “News sharing connects people.” She says, “What it does in practice is give too much power to the government to regulate without limitation. We believe that people should pay their fair share for news, but we also believe that shutting down small local and independent news is not the way to do it.”
An open-minded leader, the more responsibility Lantsman gains, the more she learns from those she is responsible for. When asked what makes a good leader, she does not hesitate: “I think somebody that knows they represent their community is what makes a good leader.”
In her role as MP and as Deputy Leader, Lantsman hopes to restore the promise of a Canada she once knew: A place where hard work and playing by the rules can lead to the promise of home ownership, success, and a fulfilling life for you and your family.
Melissa Lantsman’s dedication, self-assurance, and integrity make her a valuable asset in the House of Commons.
She is a captivating voice in Parliament, on social media, and in the news. When asked about the possibility of the Conservatives forming the next government, Lantsman states unequivocally, “I think Pierre Poilievre will be Canada’s next prime minister. We have a strong team that is going to help him get there . . . He has the full support and confidence of the caucus in a way that recent Conservative leaders have not.”
In the event of a Conservative victory, Canadians will surely hear more from Melissa Lantsman, a true woman of consequence.
Find Melissa Lantsman on Twitter (X) @MelissaLantsman
Photo: Courtesy Melissa Lantsman