I first met Parker shortly after the 2011 federal election (specifically on May 17th when we attended the “Liberal Renewal Dinner” in Toronto hosted by the Edward Blake Society.) Parker and I had a great conversation about our Liberalism and we made plans to start-up a Whitby-Oshawa Young Liberals (which we did end up doing, I am now V.P. Federal for the group and Parker Mackay is President.)
Parker is also a candidate on the OYL United Slate for the position of Riding Director. He is currently President of TWO (count ‘em two) OYL Clubs (the Glendon Young Liberals & the WOYL.) His experience with a campus club (Glendon) and a riding club (Whitby-Oshawa) make him quite qualified for the position. Parker is personally responsible for me getting as involved with the Ontario Young Liberals as I have this past year (specifically encouraging me to attend Ontario Model Parliament, OYL on Ice, and campaigning in Toronto-Danforth.) He is a strong/intelligent progressive voice and his thoughtful and empathetic demeanor make me proud to support him in the upcoming OYL election.
Here are his answers to my questions:
1. Why are you a Liberal?
One of my first significant political memories was of my Dad celebrating Chretien’s victory in 1999. I had wondered why it was important at all. I grew a little bit older and started to have an understanding of what politics mean. I held some socially conservative views at that time, but as I started reading more and more on politics, religion, and spirituality, I found that I appreciated the Liberal Party’s values. I’m a Liberal because I believe that a strong social safety net benefits everyone, and that the government can be a trusted and competent manager of our most prized resources and services; I believe that taxes are inherently helpful, and that by helping each of us succeed, including the wealthy and the impoverished, we all succeed; I believe that businesses are the best creators of jobs and should be respected and appreciated by governments; and I believe that society should continue to progress and that we should not fear change simply for the sake of tradition.
2. What was the highlight of the convention for you?
After myself and countless Young Liberals poured our hearts into Mike Crawley’s campaign, seeing him win was the highlight of the convention. From attending events, to blogging, to sharing links and talking to people on facebook, to handing out lit and working on a youth platform, there was a lot of hard work done to get Mike elected, and while originally viewed as an underdog, Mike emerged victorious. Another highlight was Zach Paikin’s speech shortly before voting began–it was rousing and easily one of the best oratory performances of the weekend.
3. What have you learned from campaigning in a very conservative riding (Whitby-Oshawa)?
I’ve come to appreciate how hard Liberals need to work to change hearts and minds door-by-door. It’s difficult to get to people when they slam the door in your face because the pamphlet you’re holding is the wrong colour for them. Fundraising is hard, recruiting is hard, getting noticed is hard, and staying relevant is hard. It’s an uphill battle, but incredibly satisfying to see your hard work pay off.
4. What policy issue are you most passionate about?
Anything related to crime policy. Our laws affect each and every citizen every day, both socially and fiscally. Unjust legislation can rob citizens of their freedom while providing no major benefit to our society. Mandatory minimum sentences and the war on drugs are two failed ideas that cost us billions of dollars each year while failing to solve the problems that they are supposed to address. I am worried that we are walking down a path toward a system focused more on ineffective and vindictive incarceration than helpful rehabilitation.
5. Who is your favourite Prime Minister?
Lester B. Pearson, because he was a true statesman, a noble man, decent human being, and a tremendously capable politician. Pearson accomplished more in his two minority governments than some Prime Ministers did with majority governments. Pearson has left a legacy that almost every Canadian will remember. Many of our strongest, most respected social services are thanks to his hard work and cooperation with the other political Parties in our House of Commons. He showed that even when facing down a hostile majority across the aisle, the word ‘adversity’ is not synonymous with ‘impossible.’