Tag Archives: OYL

Joseph Uranowski and Liam Nichols Endorse Parker Mackay for Riding Director of the Ontario Young Liberals

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Parker on the 2012 provincial election campaign. As founding members of the Whitby-Oshawa Young Liberals, we have worked closely together over the last number of months to build a strong Young Liberal club in Whitby-Oshawa. Parker is a fantastic choice for Riding Director. He has experience as the president of the WOYL and the Glendon Young Liberals. Parker Mackay is intelligent and approachable. He is a great campaigner and organizer. Having knocked on a countless number of doors with him and stayed up into the wee hours of the night putting up signs together, I am proud and happy for the WOYL to share <a href=”http://oylunited.ca/team/riding-director/”>Parker Mackay</a> with the rest of Ontario’s Young Liberals.” – Joseph Uranowski

5 Questions: Shane Mackenzie

Shane Mackenzie is the OYL United candidate for Policy Director. His proficiency at online communications and social media brought him to my attention shortly after the last federal election. Shane is incredibly hard-working, funny and sincere. He was kind enough to answer my questions:

1. Why are you a Liberal?

I was attracted to the Liberal Party because from what I’ve seen, history ends up being primarily defined by liberal features through Liberal measures that other parties opposed adamantly and eventually accepted (and now funnily attempt to champion). The Liberal Party has always been ahead of future issues and has done many remarkable things because of it. For me, this helps me not to worship the past evangelically, but rather to have reassurance that this is the party with the capability to replicate such grand scale thinking and apply it. Further, the heroes of our Canadian history have been Liberals for me. I feel that Tory Prime Ministers took us in a direction that is not consistent with the grain of social progress for Canadians. I appreciate what the Liberal Party has built and will build.

2. What is the best lesson you have learned for working on Liberal campaigns that you hope to bring to the OYL?

I learned that you have to have fun with it. At every level–local, provincial, federal and student politics, campaigns that are having fun feel like winning campaigns. Even campaigns hopelessly down in the polls that are having fun get ideas in the back of your head that it could come to fruition on e-day. Elections should be fun. Politics should be fun. The reason that young people need to be involved is to do what Trudeau did back in the early days: invigorating politics with energy by jumping into pools fully clothed before speeches. Young people need to be involved in order to bring fun, energy and liveliness to the stiff-suited men who firmly discuss business in the backrooms whilst lacking the vision of what a passionate citizenry is fuelled on.

3. What method is most effective for turning online activism into real life engagement.

I have found that diehard friends will be kind to you and show up to every event you invite them to if you’ve put in the time with them in person. This is what politics lives off of: friendships, camaraderie and unity. With a good combination of event invites, working the event itself and networking in person, those online networks begin to mean more. I learned a lot working as the Social Media director for Sheila Copps’ campaign for 6 months leading up to the Biennial convention It was a place where we believed that if it didn’t translate to action, don’t do it. If social media is not used as a tool to engage face-to-face and is not capable of getting people engaged enough to vote in an election, support a cause actively or to truly feel the way you feel, then it remains a second-rate tool. It is part of a multilateral approach to engagement that requires you to put in the personal labour rather than just sitting behind a screen typing ideas up and posting them constantly.

4. What policy issue are you passionate about?

I am policy passionate as a whole. Personally, I am particularly passionate about solving poverty. The fact is, no one should be shy to categorically say, “poverty is unacceptable”. Poverty of any person on earth should concern us a whole and we should not, by omission of our actions, allow others to be harmed. I am one of those bleeding hearts who is not afraid to admit that walking by those who are impoverished breaks my heart and omitting to do anything, even within my minimal capabilities, pains me. I convince myself all the time that I’m working towards the goal of being able to help and for it to count on a mass scale. People should always get into this kind of activism for the simple reason of “helping people”. We should use our active engagement through volunteerism to tackle poverty.

I got involved with the policy process by attending numerous issue related events with Liberal critics speaking. For example: Mark Holland on prisons and recidivism, Irwin Cotler on C-10, Scott Brison on the recent budget, Gerard Kennedy on the environment, Justin Trudeau on youth, Stéphane Dion on the clarity act and electoral reform, policy roundtables in several ridings on various topics. These gave me a good introduction to policy, which prepared me to engage in the young Liberal process at last year’s Policy Parliament & Summer Fling. At the eastern region policy parliament, I was intrigued to hear about innovative policies on thorium, electoral reform and interprovincial trade that are important to discuss. The youth brought new debates to the table and clearly had the ability to choose new directions for the party–those innovative enough with which to lobby the provincial and federal party. I consider myself a bit knowledgeable in every area and I’m more interested in what others have to bring to the table in regards to policy. I’m looking for something novel coming from the youth in order for the party to really pay attention to what is brought forward.

5. What was the high light of the bilenial convention for you?

The highlight of convention for me was being placed front row centre by my team, while I thought I was just holding a seat for someone important. I sat in a row with Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, Rt. Hon. John Turner, Hon. Bob Rae, Hon. Sheila Copps, Hon. Marlene Catterall and with many other of my heroes. I sat right in the center watching Premier Dalton McGuinty deliver his address, during Hon. Michael Ignatieff’s “Thank you” speech and I winked at all my friends on stage behind Ignatieff trying to make them blush (It worked). I was apparently on TV a lot, but I was so caught up in that moment that nothing else matter but the feeling of being a proud Liberal.

5 Questions: Paulina O’Neill

I met Paulina O’Neill while canvassing for Grant Gordon in Toronto-Danforth (though I have been receiving e-mails from her for the past year on the UofT Young Liberals listserv.) She was a delight to canvass with and I am proud to support her for the position of Communications Director for the Ontario Young Liberals. Her organizational experience and communication skills will be crucial to helping turn the OYL into a effective activist organization during and between elections. She was nice enough to take the time to answer my questions:

1. Why are you a Liberal?

I am a Liberal because I like the balance between innovative but fiscally responsible policies that the Liberal Party has developed. I also believe the Liberal Party has implemented core elements of our country: national universal health care, peacekeeping, bilingualism and multiculturalism, our national flag and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. To me, being part of the Liberal Party is more than just a political affiliation, it is the party that has defined for me what it means to be a Canadian and I want to continue to expand on what we have built for our country.

2. What was the highlight of the convention for you?

The highlight of the Biennial convention was when Mike Crawley won as President of the Liberal Party of Canada. I volunteered for his campaign while I was at the convention, reaching out to as many delegates as possible for their support. It was a rewarding experience and I am glad the hard work paid off! I also loved Dalton McGuinty’s speech. I thought it was very inspiring and gave hope to all delegates that the Liberal Party of Canada can work together to rebuild our party and have a strong presence once again.

3. What is one policy issue that you are passionate about?

One policy issue that I am currently passionate about is the funding cuts to Katimavik by the Harper government. It is important to act to try and make a difference; I’m passionate about it. To help restore funding for Katimavik I have been assisting Bismah Haq with her initiative “Pennies 4 Katimavik” to try and raise awareness about the program and raise funds to help Katimavik continue as a program even if it is scaled-down. I believe Katimavik is a valuable program that not only helps youth become strong leaders but also benefits communities across Canada.

4. What is the most important lesson you have learned on the many election campaigns you have worked/volunteered on?

To reach out to everyone. It is important to reach out to volunteers and make them feel like their work and time given to a campaign is appreciated. This is especially true for new volunteers, it is important to make every person on a campaign feel comfortable and confident while canvassing or doing other tasks on a campaign. It is also important to talk to as many constituents as possible and reach out to them as well. By talking to as many people as possible in a community it helps to tie people to their elected representative. People generally appreciate the time you spend talking to them about their interests and concerns despite differing political stripes. The main reason I am involved in politics is to improve our communities and by reaching out to each individual it helps build a strong community that can work together outside of political affiliation.

5. How can the Young Liberals and the Liberal Party better engage young women like yourself to become involved in politics?

I think we should focus on mentorship (rather than quotas) to ensure that women who become involved in politics do not feel that their gender harms their ability to advance in politics. There should be more joint events with political staffers, past candidates and members of Parliament involved in the Liberal Party and female young liberals to help us understand the challenges they have faced in politics and how they overcame those challenges. I believe it would help engage more Canadian young women like myself.

“Pennies 4 Katimavik” Launches Today!

Pennies 4 Katimavik* (a campaign spearheaded by Bismah Haq) is officially launching today in Ottawa at 2:30pm (click here for the facebook event.)

When I heard about this campaign I was very excited. Axing the program was one of the Harper government’s most maliciously-arbitrary decisions in the 2012 budget. I talked to Bismah about what inspired her to start up this campaign and what she hopes to accomplish. Here is what she
told me:

“I originally came up with the idea while watching an analysis about the budget on CBC at Hedy Fry’s office (I volunteer there) the day the budget was released. I didn’t think much of it at first, but last week some friends urged me to act on the idea. So along with other members from the OYL United team who committed to launching this in their cities and towns, some Young Liberals in BC and some Katimavik alumni I know, we will be starting our penny drives and online launch this weekend.

Here is some additional information on “Pennies 4 Katimavik” that was provided to me from the campaign:

Project Idea: According to the 2012 Federal Budget, as of fall 2012, the Canadian penny will not be in circulation anymore, and the youth volunteerism program called Katimavik has lost its funding. Pennies for Katimavik, quite literally, is a penny drive/small change drive to fundraise to support Katimavik to continue to serve our nation through youth community service, as well
as to raise awareness about the positive impact Katimavik has had on our communities.

Background: The Canadian federal government has decided to phase the penny out of existence starting this fall, when the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing the one-cent coin to financial institutions. Pennies themselves will continue to hold their inherent cash value, so Canadians can always trade them in at financial institutions. Banks can then return those pennies to the mint for recycling into their base materials. Which means before too long, the penny will
be mostly removed from the Canadian economy — except for the jars i Canadians’ closets.

We will be collecting the change and money that we raise,rolling the coins and exchanging them at a bank for cash, and then sending the money to Katimavik’s National Office.

Our short term goal is $5000(500,000 pennies) but we hope to exceed that by approaching organizations, businesses and individuals( Liberal and non-Liberal) to match our fundraising or to make larger donations.

This is a Young Liberal initiative but we hope to make this as non-partisan as possible in order to engage with Katimavik alumni and the general public.


Please “like” the “Pennies 4 Katimavik” facebook page: here. This isn’t merely a fundraising operation. They provide a backgrounder of facts on the Katimavik program (here) and they have set up an excellent Katimavik Advocacy Kit (here.) If you are in Ottawa please attend the launch party. If you cannot attend (or are living outside Ottawa, like me) then check the facebook page regularly for details on upcoming events.

*Pennies 4 Katimavik is not officially affiliated with Katimavik.

5 Questions: Parker Mackay

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.’

Why the Barrie Young Liberals Are Walking to Fight MS

Late last year, one of the parents of a Barrie Young Liberal developed multiple sclerosis. After suffering from two seizures, doctors performed extensive testing on her brain to discover the cause. She was diagnosed with MS.

Multiple sclerosis is a frightening and degenerating disease. It impairs the ability of the brain’s nerve cells to communicate with the spinal cord. Over time, this can lead to myriad complications including loss of mobility and reduced cogitative functioning.

The daughter had already decided that she wanted to walk to help raise money for MS research and for those living with the disease. When the other members heard about the situation, they immediately pledged their support and the Barrie Young Liberals became committed to helping fight multiple sclerosis.

Part of being Liberal is to give back to society through compassion and support. To this end, the Barrie Young Liberals are working hard to raise money for MS research and to support those living with the disease.

Please consider pledging us as we walk for a future without MS. Your contribution will make a significant difference, whether it goes towards researching a cure or directly to helping those living with the disease.

To visit our MS Walk team page, click here. Then, to sponsor us, click on “pledge my team online” underneath our photo. If you donate more than $20 then you will receive a charitable donation receipt, which could result in up to a 45% refund.

Thank you,
Adam Exton