Sara Wheale is the young woman from Breton, Alberta who resigned from the Prime Minister’s Youth Council on December 18th over Justin Trudeau’s comments about construction workers.
Her resignation letter to Justin Trudeau was published publicly on her Facebook and has been shared nearly 9,000 times as of the time of writing.
Sara sat down with us at The Post Millennial to answer some of our questions about her experiences on the PM’s Youth Council and her reasons for resigning.
DZSURDZSA:Originally when you signed up to be on the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, what were your intentions and what were you hoping to get out of it?
WHEALE: I was hoping to bring a rural perspective with lived experiences from the agriculture and oil field background.
DZSURDZSA: In your biography it mentions that you’ve had extensive experience working as a heavy equipment operator, how do you think your experiences working in your field has informed your political perspective?
WHEALE: Not many people who are in this line of work get directly involved so I think it helped bring it to the front lines. I can speak from firsthand experience and knowledge.
DZSURDZSA: During your time on the Prime Minister’s Youth Council what were the main issues you felt that you engaged with Justin Trudeau on?
WHEALE: Bringing awareness to the realities of the oil and gas industry. I also advocated very strongly changes to the industrial hemp legislation so its much easier for farmers to be able to get into a newer market and I think it was very successful and productive conversation and I am extremely grateful I could do that.
DZSURDZSA: While on the council, did you find that you saw eye to eye on issues with your peers?
WHEALE: On some things, other things not as much. It’s a very diverse council which I think is amazing. I come from a very different background than many others so of course you are going to have a different perspective and thought process but that’s what makes a good council.
DZSURDZSA: When writing the open letter, did you ever imagine it would go viral?
WHEALE: Absolutely not! I had zero intention of it. I just wanted to let the people who had been asking what I was going to do regarding the PM’s remarks know what I had done and it slightly backfired in a good way where I can now explain what had happened and why I decided to leave and let people know some of our realities.
DZSURDZSA: Do you believe that the Prime Minister’s comments are symptomatic of a greater detachment with the needs of Albertans or more generally, working-class Canadians?
WHEALE: To a point. What was said is very multi layered. On one had I do feel like there was a slight underlying message intended or not but there was also the aspect of saying “the business community needs to wake up”. I sat on that council and explained how this business community works.
I advocated strongly to him, members of cabinet and the council that we [the business community] often don’t look at gender and think it’s a barrier or a setback. What they really care about is if you’re willing to learn and grow in your job and how dedicated you are to it. There are many women who are absolutely incredible at their jobs and are better at it than some of the guys they work with. They get paid the same as the men and sometimes even more!
There are also times where you get paid according to what you are operating because not all equipment is hired at the same rates so yes wages do reflect that but its not because of gender. That’s just the way we are. That’s always how I have been treated. I feel that there are certain perspectives that were left out of the picture in the whole conversation he had.
DZSURDZSA: Working as a councillor for Brazeau County, do you find that a lot of the people you represent echo your sentiments about the Prime Minister’s comments?
WHEALE: I think so. I have had a lot of support for my decision. Many of the people who elected me are blue collar workers, men and women. This community is those people.