Omar Alghabra was the Member of Parliament for Mississauga—Erindale from 2006–2008. He ran again in 2011 and parliament is a worse place without him in it. Omar is a strong progressive voice and his positive attitude is infectious. He was nice enough to answers my questions:
1. Why are you a Liberal?
There are 4 fundamental reasons as to why I am a Liberal philosophically:
- I believe in individual liberty; that every person has an inalienable right to choose how to live their life as long as it doesn’t infringe on others
- I believe the role of government is to facilitate individual liberty and to ensure that people have equal opportunity to reach their own optimal potential
- I believe in brokerage politics instead of divisive or polarizing politics. Instead of dividing people into with or against us camps, I’d rather bring people together, empathizing not vilifying their point of view while remaining faithful to my values/principles
- I believe that Canadian identity is an evolving and inclusive identity not a static one. Canada is the sum of its history, present and future
2. What was the highlight of the biennial convention for you?
In addition to the amazing turnout, the highlight for me was the fact that the convention was unscripted. Most conventions tend to be dominated by a certain narrative or campaign that is promoted by the “centre” of the Party. During this last one, most delegates were genuinely open-minded and freely debating their choices and reaching their own conclusion
3. What policy issue are you passionate about and why?
There are many issues that I’m passionate about, but if I were to reduce it to one overarching subject, I would say it is the role of government in our society. Governments need to find a balance between being a facilitator and defender of the interest of its citizens. For example, I believe in free markets and competition but also the responsibility of government to ensure fairness, transparency and that the long term interest of its citizens are not trumped by short-term market forces
4. You are very effective at using various forms of social media. What advice would you give to Liberal candidates and activists on utilizing social media?
I would say that you need to first identify your target audience. Do you want to reach out to partisan Liberals? Specialized activists? Neighbours? etc. Then talk about subjects that are relevant to them in a meaningful and fresh way. Try to stand out with your message or ideas. Maybe tackle controversial topics. Avoid repeating standard talking points (unless you want to focus on the partisan crowd who may enjoy a reinforcement of their message). Use humor or entertainment. No need to be serious all the time. Remain respectful and civil. Even though sometimes using foul language can generate buzz but it will undermine your credibility.
5. Who is your favourite Prime Minister and why?
That’s a tough question to answer only because I believe one has to experience first hand the leadership style if they are to offer an accurate assessment. I always consider PM Trudeau to be an exceptional PM given his record, his statements and his values. Unfortunately I immigrated to Canada after his tenure. I am an admirer of all former PMs not withstanding their partisan colours. All of them have been very intelligent and highly driven and each of them provided their own flavour of leadership style. The only PM I had the privilege to work closely with was Paul Martin. I have deep respect and affection for him having seen first hand his work ethics and his determination.