Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Case for a Long-Term Liberal Development Plan

In Canadian sport there is a common phrase, Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD). Every sport has created a plan to ensure that they support athlete development and participation over an athlete’s lifetime. These plans include different approaches for varying ages, levels and abilities. The Long-Term Athlete Development model has increased participation throughout all stages of life and helps produce more international medals.

This party could benefit greatly from creating a Long-Term Liberal Development plan. We need to grow as a party. We have some great initiatives already making a difference in this area, but we need sustained growth. It is a wasted opportunity to bring in new members and not have the plans in place on how to ensure they want to stay. The Liberal party needs to look at its membership/supporter data and identify the trends in membership growth and decline.  

Young Liberals is a great program and resource for those members who are 14-25. They have a respected voice within the party. The challenge becomes that there is nothing to formally engage those who become recent Young Liberal alumni. More importantly, many of our peers are politically engaged for the first time in their mid to late twenties. They emerge from the “bubble” of student life and become more aware of the political landscape.These prospective members and voters are looking for a party that is addressing issues affecting them. A common concern is the unemployment/underemployment of recent graduates in the current economic climate. They do care about Old Age Security but to them paying off student debt is a more immediate concern.  

They are often not considered in party platforms because en masse they don’t vote, but many of them say they don’t vote because none of the parties are addressing their concerns. The idea of political party membership is foreign to them (and the majority of the Canadian population). They can sign up online but then what? How do we reach out and engage them? How do we make sure that they feel a Liberal membership has value and is not simply signing up for frequent emails asking for donations? This age/ life stage demographic is not alone. Although the factors and concerns change, the overall issue remains the same. We need to develop plans and strategies that help Liberals of all stages of life find the return on investment they are looking for in this party.

 Most of the political parties in this country continue to focus on growing their traditional bases of support. Political involvement varies widely among different age demographics. A long-term engagement strategy would allow the Liberal party to connect to its members at all ages and stages of life. The concerns, experiences, time commitments, and financial capabilities vary amongst our 14+ aged membership. This diversity can become one of the greatest strengths of our party. For this to happen we must develop a plan that recognizes not only the challenges Liberals of all ages face, but the value each demographic brings to the table.  

We need to advocate for Canadians at all stages of life so that every Canadian feels they have something to gain by supporting us. We must find ways to welcome and actively engage new members and supporters of all ages. We should strongly consider creating a Long-Term Liberal Development Plan that ensures we continue to support, engage, and retain our members through-out their lifetime.

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