I recently attended the Ontario Liberal Party’s Provincial Council in Sudbury. It was great to see so many dedicated Liberals working together in Northern Ontario, but one moment was particularly inspiring. During a session about youth in politics, Kathleen Wynne (Minister of Municipal & Aboriginal Affairs) provided some insights from her seat in the audience.
After talking about the intelligent young people working with her in Toronto, she said that young people have a distinct responsibility to challenge their elected representatives. Don’t be afraid to start conversations about the future of your province, or your country, she said. Conversations should be polite, but they should not be easy.
It was some heartfelt advice from a great MPP but it’s not limited to our elected leaders. The same advice applies within our Party, but in order to join the conversation one must sit at the table.
A few weeks ago Ipsos Reid released a poll that suggested 56% of Canadians consider the Liberals a “party of the past”. This didn’t come as a shock to me given my experiences at Liberal gatherings. Go to a local fundraiser, a riding association board meeting, or a local event, and the average age is likely above 50. Only at national or provincial conventions does one get a sense of the youth in our party – over a third of attendees at the Biennial in January were under 35.
I can’t help but wonder how different our party would be if thousands of Young Liberals spent time working for a riding association instead of a youth club. How different it would be if they weren’t Young Liberals at all, just Liberals. What would the Council of Presidents accomplish if a quarter of its members were under 30? What would a defunct riding association accomplish if 10 Young Liberals took it over?
So today, I’m asking
Young Liberals to step up. Help rebuild your riding associations and create a Liberal Party that represents the future. Never be afraid to challenge established practices; the bold solutions you propose will make our party relevant again.
I’m also asking
Old Liberals to step aside. The time has come for a new generation to move our Party, and our country, forward. We still need your help, but after your many years of service you can rest, assured, that you have changed this country for the better.
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