Tag Archives: #ott12

Sunday, January 15h, 2012: The Day the Crime Debate Changed

“At a time when global competition is growing and our crime rate is falling, it is smarter to invest in education than jails. – Dalton McGuinty

After two days of sessions on the economy, health care, foreign policy, the environment and evidence based policy, the 3200 delegates who attended the Liberal Party of Canada’s 2012 biennial convention arrived at Canada Hall to debate and vote on priority policy resolution.

That Sunday morning 77% of voting delegates courageously voted “Yes” to policy resolution 117. “Legalize and Regulate Marijuana.” Without hyperbole, I would argue that this has helped fundamentally transform the crime debate paradigm in Canada.

For the first time a major Canadian political party has put legalization on the table:

The Liberal convention was an affirmation that the Liberal party is down but not out. With more delegates in attendance than the most recent NDP and CPC conventions combined and a full 1/3 of delegates under 30 years-of-age, the Liberal confirmed we are here to stay, which makes policy resolution 117 so much more potent. Finally, a major Canadian political party will be talking about how to attack the real roots of crime instead of haggling over how many years a teenager should spend in jail because they owned two pot plants.

Contrary to the view of many Canadians, the New Democratic Party does not support legalization. During the 2011 election the NDP buried any progressive crime policies that they allegedly support. In fact, drugs/cannabis were not even mentioned in their platform. The NDP has yet to respond to the Liberal legalization motion passing. When it comes to crime policy, the NDP has spent the last decade tacking centre. Jack Layton even refused to whip the vote to save the gun registry and did not campaign on reinstating it in order to preserve the NDP’s rural seats.

The pro-prohibition side has been put on defense:

After the Liberal convention concluded the National Post’s editorial board endorsed legalization and regulation of marijuana. They also published a poll showing that the majority of Canadians support legalization. In a free society, governments should have to have a reason for keeping a substance/action illegal, not making it legal. The Liberal Party has now forced PM Harper and the Conservatives to defend a failed drug war that has cost Canada hundreds of millions and actually creates more crime in the process. Policy resolution 117 also gives cover to the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Canadians who support evidence-based crime policy but are afraid of being labled “soft-on-crime.”

Bob Rae embraced the policy in his convention closing speech:

Bob Rae did not shy away from legalization in his speech at the end of the convention (a speech he knew would be watched and re-watched online by hundreds of thousands of Canadians.) Mr. Rae put out the complex argument that supporters of legalization have been making for years but have been ignored in the simplistic sham of a crime debate put forward by the Harper Conservatives. He acknowledged that alcohol and cigarettes are the most addictive substances facing the youth of Canada. By using the legalization and regulation motion as a symbol of “evidence based policy” (the theme of the convention), Bob Rae helped bring new energy to a debate that has suffered from so much inertia.


For years advocates for Legalization, like myself, have been waiting for something to explode the current non-debate on crime and finally bring an end to the stasis in this particular policy discussion. It is up to all Canadians, Liberal, NDP, Conservative, Green or nonaligned, to make sure that the crime debate in Canada is based on facts.

“Let’s face up to it Canada, the war on drugs has been a complete bust!” – Bob Rae

Dalton McGuinty speaks at the Liberal Party of Canada Biennial Convention 2012

Favourite quotes:

Polls can impede our vision of the future.

Laurier’s Definition of Liberalism: “I am a Liberal. I am one of these who think that everywhere, in human things, there are abuses to be reformed, new horizons to be opened up, and new forces to be developed.

At a time when global competition is growing and our crime rate is falling, it is smarter to invest in education than jails. At a time when global economic uncertainty is costing us jobs it’s smarted to get busy building a new foundation of growth than to lecture world leaders about their struggling economies. At a time when the reality of climate change is here, its smarter to tackle it in a way that create jobs rather than deny it. And at a time when Canadians are worried about the future of their medicare, it is smarter to bring us together to find a way forward than to tell the provinces and territories ‘you’re on your own.‘”

On what Liberals stand for:
The Liberal party has always been guided by the best of Canadian charater, and so it is only Liberals who can renew social programs for the next generation. The Liberal party has always greeted the future with a sense of optimism and so it’s only Liberals that can seizes exciting opportunities for growth. The Liberal party has always been able to see all that Canadians are and so it’s only Liberals who can truly see all that Canada can be. These are the values and beliefs that we hold dearly as Liberals… Liberals have no greater desire, no greater ambition, than to put our country first.

Should Premier McGuinty run for federal Liberal leader?

As the son of a teacher and a nurse, my childhood growing up under the Harris government was formative for a lot of my political views. From 1995 to 2003 my family felt the hammer from our provincial government. My first two years of high school were under a PC government in Ontario, there was a stark contrast with my last two years. To say that I have “drunk the Dalton McGuinty Kool-Aid” is an understatement. Though my first experience in political activism was during the 2004 election at the federal level, I have always admired Premier McGuinty.

I do think Premier McGuinty should run for the federal Liberal leadership. He has done a great job as Premier of Ontario, has a solid record on jobs, the environment, education and health care. He is also bland enough to succeed in the federal arena. I really liked what he had to say in this speech about the need for federal liberals to have a multi-election strategy and have patience with our leader. Dalton McGuinty was defined by Harris/Eves but he fought back.

The Liberal party needs a vigorous leadership race with a number of candidates with diverse political and personal backgrounds. I believe Premier McGuinty would bring a lot to that race.

Fort McMurray Liberal Kyle Harrietha On His 2012 Convention Experience

Theresa Lubowitz: 10 Lessons from the 2012 Liberal Biennial in Ottawa

I attended the recent Liberal Party of Canada Biennial Convention in Ottawa (as a delegate and a member of a campaign) and came away with a few lessons learned.

  1. You can run an honourable campaign and still win.
  2. Paul Wells is right. The team having the most fun has the best shot at winning.
  3. When you form a really strong team they will be your friends for life.
  4. The greatness of most people is amplified in person.
  5. The perceived flaws of most people are diminished in person.
  6. You don’t have to be enemies with those you are competing with. You can learn to respect them greatly in contest and become friends regardless of the outcome.
  7. Your potential is your own to come short of, meet or exceed. If you simply ask to play a role you will usually get to.  If you simply act, you will often accomplish. You can determine the impact you will have.
  8. Talent is important but kindness and respectfulness are most important of all. If you campaign that way, volunteers and voters alike will flock to you. If you work that way, candidates will fight over you.
  9. Journalists are human beings, and often not just lively people, but kind ones too.
  10. Relentless faith in the merit of your cause can and does pay off.

(Theresa Lubowitz, delegate for Newmarket-Aurora, runs the civic engagement website “What Have You Done For Democracy Lately?“)

Kelly Patrick: BC Liberal Youth Are Dope In More Ways Than One

There was a beauty to last weekends’ Liberal Party Convention. I know, no one wants to hear or even believe that anything Liberal was beautiful. It is a stretch. However, for all the haters out there this article is not for you.

The beauty of the convention had everything to do with the tone throughout. Unlike many at the convention, I do not feel the need to bemoan Liberal existence (anymore), complain about the past (anymore) or ramble on about a motion very few have a clue about (as always). I will say however and quite emphatically, the youth, and specifically the spirited, intelligent, principled, lovely entourage of the #BCteam, and the young Liberals of British Columbia specifically, lent everything positive to every inch of the convention.

I know of other young Liberals, of the past and present, and I am not besmirching anyone but it does need to be pointed out that if the Liberals want to continue with the incredible positive momentum developed at #LPC12, a positive national attitude must prevail.

Organizationally, I suggest Mr. Crawley ensure there is BC, SK, AB, MAN representation at LPC before he hires anyone from Ontario or fires any existing LPC staff. If he needs to bring in his own “people”, he needs to remember the importance of building a national party. There are several good younger Liberals at LPC who worked their asses off to ensure the Convention was a success. They need to stay. So does anyone who works hard and understands their role.
Politically, looking to BC and the wonderful BC youth that were poised, well dressed, well mannered and a lot of fun to be around, and pulling in all those provinces in between, will ensure a victory in 2015.

I needed to remind people this weekend that not too long ago Saskatchewan had 35,000 Liberal members. You might want to ask where they went before assuming there are no Liberals in Saskatchewan and it is a write-off.

Anyway, politics is all about opportunity. Harper Conservatives are just a wack of meanies and the NDP have adopted bad tricks of the old Liberal Party that got us in this mess. It is up to us, once again, to work hard, BE NICE, and think big. Ya Liberals!

Oh btw, all those middle aged back room boys who have had their chance and once even had power, stay away! No one likes the way you do politics.

Nokha Dakroub: A Family Reunited – And No, We’re Not Dead!

Nokha Dakrou (Delegate Mississauga-East Cooksville.)

The convention that took place this past weekend felt like a much-needed family reunion after a period of mourning and grief. With 3200 delegates present, it was more than I had even hoped for or anticipated. It was difficult to find people amongst the crowds, hard to find a seat in any of the sessions, the voting line was extremely long, and I couldn’t have been happier! After months of hearing and heading the Liberal Party’s obituaries, we were finally in a building where the future
of the party, the youth, were present and pleasantly loud.

One of the things that I was most pleased with was that the policy process would be shifted towards an online system. The truth is, it is unrealistic to expect to get thousands of people in a room to debate issues they feel strongly about and be out of the room on time for the next session. So, we’re moving towards the future in that case, and I think it’s about time. The primaries didn’t make it and I was surprised about that even though I was not in support of it. I thought it would have been dangerous to open up the party to that extent and I was concerned that it would cost a lot of money that would be better spent fighting the Conservatives, and the NDP during general elections. The creation of a two-tier membership was a bit difficult to get on board with since I would’ve preferred to cancel membership fees and allow everyone to be a member while protecting equality between members of the party. On the other hand, it does make room for a ‘safer’ and more open leadership race. I am interested to watch how that will play out.

What I found astounding was the fact that the leader’s power to appoint was protected by the membership. It was strange to watch the grassroots vote against giving the power to the grassroots. After our defeat in May, I was surprised to see the sense of denial about how many appointments have gone absolutely wrong. I was also in favour of that particular amendment because when a candidate or a sitting member is required to win a nomination fairly, they would have to organize in their own riding. This means going into a general election, they would have a base of support in that particular riding. The only concern that I shared was the need to increase the percentage of female candidates in the party. It is undeniable that it is much harder to get women to run for office, let alone fight nomination battles. However, I was hoping that we would be able to find other more democratic ways to support and encourage female candidates.

The results of the executive board elections were not always in favour of the candidates I had supported. However, I am not one to ever complain about election results even if I had worked on another candidate’s team. Mr. Crawley was successful in convincing the membership that he was the person for the job and I am sure that he will live up to that standard. I look forward to working with him, I wish him the absolute best, and I hope that we will all be there to support him going forward. It will be a tough road to get our party back into first place, because anything less than that won’t do, but I am sure it can be done and I’m looking forward to every step of the rebuilding process.

Kyle Peterson: A Biennial Unlike Others

Kyle Peterson (Past candidate, Newmarket-Aurora.)

Although I had been to umpteen LPC events since I first joined the Liberal Party in September 1990 at the campus of the University of Western Ontario (where, incidentally, I came to know our new President, Mike Crawley), I was particularly excited about this Biennial. And for a number of reasons.

This was the first LPC meeting I attended as a past candidate. It was the first time our Party wasn’t at least the Official Opposition. Also, I was enthusiastically supporting two great candidates – Crawley for President, and Chris MacInnes, who I met at Dalhousie Law School a decade ago, for VP English. But these weren’t the principal causes of my elevated excitement.

That was caused by the great opportunity that this Biennial represented for our party – an opportunity that was palpable in the weeks leading up to it. There was a general sense that this Biennial would be different – and it delivered!

I eagerly departed Toronto mid-afternoon Thursday, on the Via train, with two work colleagues, Michael Binetti and Peter Greene. On the train we encountered several other Liberals gearing up for the weekend – including Mr. Uranowski himself. The mood was positive, and was not at all reflective of a so-called dead party.

Upon arrival, the festive mood continued. After visiting some great suites, and talking to many of the fantastic candidates, the party ended up at Shore Club (which I remember fondly as Hartwells). Many old acquaintances were renewed, and new ones established. The Biennial Convention was now well underway.

There were a number of memorable events – some good, some not so good. Premier’s McGuinty’s speech – fantastic; Michael Ignatieff’s speech – gracious and classy. Countless points of order – tedious. Voting devices – great, when they worked, annoying when they didn’t. 3300 delegates – extraordinary. Slow Westin elevators – painful. And the Mike Crawley suite Friday night (sponsored by Affleck Greene McMurtry) – Off the Hook!

But I think the primary take away from this successful weekend can be summed up rather easily: The Liberal Party is in better shape now then it was before the Biennial. And this is a direct result of the commitment of so many Liberals. We move forward with a new sense of purpose. And we should all eagerly participate in the Leadership in 2013 – which undoubtedly will as positive an exercise for our party as was this Biennial. I am already looking forward to it!

Bryan Bondy: Sorry Seems To Be The Easiest Word

Bryan Bondy (Delegate from Perth-Wellington.)
Somewhere out there in the great yonder of the Internet, someone has made the statement, or something close to it, that the Liberal Party of Canada needs to embrace change and listen to grassroots values as it engages ordinary Canadians in rebuilding (and then something about families).

Political buzzwords are awful and I’m a little sad that the three big words on the first page of my 2012 biennial convention delegate handbook are listening, engaging, and rebuilding, AND REBUILDING IS VERY SHOUTY. But I can forgive, because we do need to rebuild and it lacks synonyms.

Rebuilding won’t be about “being better Liberals,” whatever that might be, and frankly I think good policy is there to implement once in power, but it doesn’t win elections. Rebuilding has to be more concrete than conceptual.

Still, I don’t think the hard work can even start until we’ve fixed our bad attitude.

I don’t mean that we’re (collectively) arrogant or entitled. We have been chastened since May. The problem is that we’ve gone too far the other way. We’re too apologetic.
We’re apologetic about even being Liberal. Let’s face it, for five years now it’s been like back in high school. The Tories are the jocks, the New Democrats are the cool artsy kids and we’re the Star Trek nerds.

The cynical reality of modern politics is that it has regressed into these social structures of immaturity in which good and evil, if you will, are less important than win or lose. We have to play that game and win.

To even get in the game, we really must let go of the apologetic impulse. For what are we apologizing? Please don’t mention the sponsorship scandal. I joined the Liberal Party in 2006. Our interim leader wasn’t even a party member when it happened.

Even today’s news item that the NDP phone-dropped voters in Lise St-Denis’ riding without identifying party affiliation was immediately subject to the usual howling chorus of, “Dirty tricks! Sponsorship scandal!” Stop. What’s next, linking Harper to Sir John A’s Pacific Scandal of 1873?

What I think we’re apologizing for, really, is losing. For ten years, our leaders have lost elections, and we’re sorry that we screwed up. We couldn’t get our act together so it’s our fault for Harper while we’re at it. Sorry.

People didn’t vote for Chrétien because he was apologetic. Chrétien was never sorry. Trudeau was rarely sorry, but when he was, he lost elections. No election in the future was won by apologizing for the past.

Instead of hemming and hawing when people ask us why we’re Liberals, we should just tell them the truth. We like being Liberals. We think it’s the best option. We think Conservatives are more mean-spirited and New Democrats less sensible than we are. (Is any of this a shocking revelation?) Mostly, it just fits. As Mauril Bélanger once said, “I like to say that I looked around at all the options and the Liberal Party was the one that made sense.”

We might also add that by joining the Liberal Party, we’ve met a bunch of people, some of whom we really like, who share similar values, and the ones we don’t like we can mostly tolerate, at least. It’s a very pluralistic party that accepts you as long as you’re pretty cool with everyone else.

Once we’ve mustered a little fearlessness and actually like being Liberals again, we’ll be ready for the nitty-gritty of rebuilding and other buzzwords.


Leanne Bourassa: My LPC 2012 Convention experience.

Leanne Bourassa (Former candidate for National Membership Secretary.)

Where to begin? My LPC 2012 Convention experience actually began in November 2011 when I submitted my nomination forms for the National Table Officer position of National Membership Secretary. Most of the people who signed my nomination form didn’t even know about the position of membership secretary, so I was stunned when after the deadline for submitting our nomination papers, I didn’t have just one or two, but FOUR opposing candidates for the job!  WHAT had I gotten myself into?

The next two months were a blur of phone calls, attending events, setting up Facebook pages, drafting emails and flyers, figuring out email blast programs, putting together a fundraiser and thinking about campaign materials. Always questioning whether I was saying and doing the right thing, wondering if so and so is supporting me or not and occasionally dealing with the reality that not everyone thinks I’m wonderful!

 Finally, the big weekend was upon us.  The minute I walked into the convention center the reality of being a candidate hit me and it was daunting. Everything from poster placement and where I needed to be and when, suddenly became vitally important to me and I was afraid of screwing it up.  I was not going to be able to just sit back and enjoy this convention.  I was going to have to work.

 Friday night was the big night for the candidates as we were scheduled to give our speeches to the convention.  Canada Hall is HUGE and seeing it packed to standing room capacity brought home just how seriously the delegates were taking the responsibility of choosing the next table officers.  From the side of the stage, it wasn’t that easy to hear what the candidates were saying and each of us had our own ways of dealing with the stress both before and after our turn on stage. I was quite happy with my performance, especially when my friends told me afterwards that they didn’t know I could “do that”!

 Saturday was probably one of the best days of my life.  After the 7:30am Quebec delegation meeting, I hit the ground running and it didn’t stop until 8:30 pm. I spent an hour or so handing out flyers at the bottom of the escalators and then almost 4 straight hours shaking hands with people in the line up to go and vote.  Every single person I spoke to was pleasant and so many of them were nice enough to say they were voting for me, or that they had heard my speech and thought it was great. I chatted with people from all across the country.  Putting myself in a stranger’s way is far outside of my comfort zone, but it was so worth it. I went to bed that night exhausted, my feet in pain, my throat feeling raw, but completely happy that I had done my job as a candidate.

 In the end, I lost my race, but have never felt more motivated to get to work for the future of the Liberal Party of Canada. I’m still on a high from all the great people I met and knowing that I can put myself out there, do the work and come away from it all feeling elated.  Matthew Certosimo will be a great National Membership Secretary and with the decision to include supporters to our party, he has an enormous challenge ahead of him. I’m very worried about the fact that none of the national table officers are from Quebec, and this is where we need a lot of work to rebuild, but our team here at the LPC(Q) will make sure the National doesn’t forget about us!

Looking For A New Liberal Leader? Why Not Scott Brison?

If you are looking for something to do at the Liberal biennial convention this weekend I have a suggestion for you: Walk up to Scott Brison (only if he isn’t engaged in conversation. I don’t want you to bother him) and tell him that it would be great if he ran for the Liberal leadership.

Mr. Brison is young, bilingual and has done an excellent job as Finance critic.