“I fear going out in public”: Lib MP quits politics due to threats, misogyny, toxic online culture

Liberal Member of Parliament Pam Damoff has announced her exit from politics due to threats, misogyny, disrespectful dialogue, hyper-partisan politics, and other discouraging factors.

Damoff was elected MP for Oakville North-Burlington in Ontario in 2015 and has served the constituency ever since. Before that, she was the town councillor for Oakville for five years. She’s also the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign (consular) affairs.

On Wednesday, the long-time politician shared an extensive letter on her social media accounts outlining why she is not seeking re-election. She will, however, serve her riding until the next election.

“Even great chapters come to an end, and it is time for this chapter of my career to end,” she began.

“Sadly, I feel politics is no longer the best venue for me to do that in,” she said after thanking the communities she has served and expressing the desire to continue other work that will make a difference in people’s lives.

Damoff blamed “the current tone of politics, the drive for social media clips and likes, and the lack of respectful dialogue have drastically changed how we interact in parliament and in public” for her untimely exit.

“The tone and tenor of public discourse have deteriorated significantly, and I fear the loss of trust in public institutions we are seeing that is driven by misinformation and lies being spread by politicians and on social media,” she added.

She believes the toxic drive for social media likes among elected officials has hindered constructive conversations, exacerbated differences, and diminished her peers’ “capacity to show empathy towards each other.”

She further wrote:

“The threats and misogyny I have experienced as a Member of Parliament are such that I often fear going out in public, and that is not a sustainable or healthy way to live.

Quite simply, politics is no longer for me and so it is time for me to turn the page on this chapter.”

The Liberal MP said she was proud of her official accomplishments, which included passing a law to educate judges about domestic violence and coercive control, and working on making $10-a-day childcare and other family benefit programs a reality.

Damoff concluded the letter by thanking her Ottawa peers, coworkers, and family.

“Canada is the greatest country in the world. It is not lost on me the challenges we face, issues to overcome and divisions we have to heal. However, I believe Canada can represent the best in each of us,” she said.

“If we focus on what unites us, always taking the high road with a focus on moving forward, we will leave this great country better than we found it.”

Supportive comments piled up under Damoff’s post.

Burlington MP and former minister of families Karina Gould called Damoff an “incredible and inspiring colleague.”

“Your voice is an important one in Ottawa and your legacy is one you can be so proud of. Your work on gun control, support for survivors of DV, and cancer research are just some of the important policies you have delivered on,” she wrote on Instagram. “You have done so much for our community and our country. I’m proud I get to call you a colleague and even prouder I get to call you a friend. Thank you for all you have done.”

“Pam, you’re such a great MP. You care; you’re smart, compassionate and hardworking. Canada is better because of you,” current MP and former minister of transportation Omar Alghabra added.