Author Archives: Person Person

Making your mark as a Liberal though canvassing

Co-authored by Josh Kaine, President, OWN Young Liberals and Sheila Gervais

Last fall, when OWNFLA held its “rebuilding” sessions, we repeatedly heard how important it is for the Party’s future to improve its relationship with it members and the community by engaging them more directly. This January, at the LPC’s biennial convention, we discussed how to build the Party into a modern, networked organization that is consultative and collaborative in its approach to public policy development and representation.

And so, when the association decided to hold a community consultation on a very timely issue- especially with our riding’s large aging population – the future of our pensions and Old Age Security (OAS) – we looked at various ways we could encourage members of the general public to come and participate with us, and to let them know that we are concerned not just when an election looms but that we are always interested in what they have to say. We decided to organize a canvass in the neighbourhood closest to our meeting location (the Ron Kolbus Centre)– the Britannia Bay area – to take our project “to the people”.

On the Saturday before the consultation, we assembled a small group of committed canvassers –both experienced and not-so experienced, but all committed Liberals keen on engaging our fellow community members. We also hoped to capture some important information about our constituents in both a broad and a targeted way. Over a period of two hours, armed with flyers about the meeting and the issue (and not so much about the Party), we were able to cover 3 polls, deliver information to about 500 households and speak with close to 100 people. The positive, if somewhat intrigued reaction we received at the doors less than a year after the election of a majority government was encouraging. It was very rewarding to realize later at the consultation that our canvass had encouraged several members of the public to join us and also that we had raised awareness of our association in the process.

People choose to participate in the political process for many reasons, but for many of us there is nothing more enjoyable or more central to the experience of being involved in a political party than canvassing. One of the reasons why it’s so gratifying is that it’s such a social experience. When you go out in a team to canvass, you get to talk to people about why they’ve decided to volunteer their time for the Liberal Party. Whether you’re speaking with strangers or with people whom you already know, you’ll get the chance to discuss and learn something new. In the process, you’ll also get a bit of exercise and you’ll be able to do something fun! That’s ultimately one of the great things about going on a canvass; it’s always a bit of an adventure.

Probably one of the most important reasons to go on a canvass is that you get to speak with residents of local communities. When we went door to door to advertise our OAS event we gave people the chance to talk to us about the ways that they would be affected by changes to the OAS and pensions. We spoke to a number of people who told us that they were pleased to hear from the Liberal Party about the issues including one woman who invited her neighbour out to chat with us as well. She wanted to make sure that her neighbour also heard about our event. Individual experiences like that show that when we reach out to the residents of the community, they appreciate that we want to listen to them.

This illustrates the importance to the Liberal Party of riding associations getting out into their communities talking with people about their individual views and not simply staying in the backrooms devising “policy” and working on electoral technique. The Party benefits from this sort of political activity in a number of ways, first of all because canvassing helps to get information about voters that the Party can use in the next election: information about issues, attitudes and intentions. Canvassing also provides the chance to talk to people on a one-on-one basis about the Liberal Party. Every conversation between a canvasser and a voter is a reminder of what it is that Liberals stand for. That’s another reason why canvassing is so enjoyable: you get to help fight for the policies that you believe in!

Last June Bob Rae said that we have entered an era of the permanent campaign; the campaign for the 2015 election begins now. He was encouraging Liberals to go out and connect with voters in their communities. John Baird or his staff have the chance to talk to constituents every day and that’s why our riding association is working to connect with voters and to encourage local Liberals to go out into the community and consult. The fact that the Ottawa West-Nepean Federal Liberal Association is out canvassing shows how our riding association is working to rebuild the Liberal Party at a grassroots level. That’s why canvassing is so important and that’s why, when you’re with a group of other Liberals, it can be so much fun.

Over the coming months, we hope to be at the doors in our riding regularly and often, discussing issues of general and particular concern, learning from each other and working together to better our community. We hope to create a stronger Liberal Party in our community and a stronger Liberal Party for the country. With such a positive experience from our first effort, we hope many more of you will join us!

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Upcoming Federal Newsletter

The Ottawa West Nepean Federal Liberal Association’s newsletter is going to be released at some point in the next month. I write a blurb for the youth section every time that it is released and I thought I’d include it here.

The Ottawa West Nepean Young Liberals are more active than ever before! In the last couple months we have been out canvassing and we have been at a bunch of great federal events. We’re thinking about hosting a rebuilding session for Young Liberals and a couple of us are meeting to discuss that on March 18th at 1:00pm at the Royal Oak in Centrepointe. We’re looking forward to being very active in the months to come!

We do need your help with something. We’re looking for new members and we want you to tell any and all youth that you might know to come out to our next full meeting on April 2nd at 7:30pm at the Royal Oak in Centrepointe. Our club provides young Liberals with a chance to talk with other youth about the things that matter to them. Tell your friends between the ages of 14 and 25 about us; they’ll be pleased that you did!

This is, in fact, all very true. We are having a meeting on April 2nd and we would love to see you there!

Cheers,

Josh Kaine

OAS and Pensions Event: March 7th

Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 7 pm @ 102 Greenwood Avenue

Next week Ottawa West Nepean’s Federal Riding Association will be hosting the next in its series of discussion forum events. We’ll be talking about Canada’s pension system and particularly about the Harper government’s plans  to increase the age at which seniors can claim OAS from 65 to 67.

The event should be lots of fun and there are plenty of reasons to come check it out. The Liberal Party’s opposition critic for seniors and pensions, the Hon. Judy Sgro,  will be there along with two other guest speakers. This is a chance to come meet a prominent elected official and a representative of the Liberal Party. That said, the event is open to non-Liberals and anyone can come. Pensions and the OAS are an important issue. Even if you aren’t old enough now for this issue to affect you, chances are that you know someone who is affected.

This event presents you with the chance to learn more about pensions and the OAS, whether or not you’re a Liberal.

We hope you can make it!

Federal Discussion Forums

The best part of being a member of the Liberal Party is talking to like-minded individuals about your views. Not JUST your views on the Party, but on the issues in general. I haven’t had a conversation with non-Liberals  about my political beliefs in the inclusive way that I’ve had such conversations with fellow Liberals. The Ottawa West Nepean Federal Liberal Association has recently given local Liberals, official members or otherwise, the chance to have those kinds of discussions.

Since December local Liberals have been organizing and hosting Discussion Forums. These events allow anyone who is interested to share their views on a variety of subjects. We’ve talked about the state of Canadian economy, about the electoral situation in the Congo and also about the Party and its future. These events have been lively and fun. I’ve talked about my views and I’ve learned a lot.

We want to hear your views and we’re looking for new topics. If you have a personal interest in a particular subject, tell us and we can organize a discussion. These events are locally organized and new people come all the time. These events are perfect if you want to get involved in the Liberal Party for the first time because they’re lively and fun. At the same time, they’re great for more experienced Liberals looking for new ways to get involved in the Party. The Discussion Forums take place on the first Wednesday of every month and they’re a great opportunity to meet people and get involved.

Contact us for more information.

Thoughts on the 2012 Biennial

This weekend’s Liberal Biennial Convention was busy, informative and fun. Having joined the Party in September 2010, this was my first Convention and I can honestly say that it exceeded my expectations.

The Biennial Convention was one of the Party’s first chances to show Canadians what it means to be Liberal. The appetite for change at this event was very clear. Delegates supported the idea of a preferential ballot in federal elections and opened the Party up to a new class of membership. At the same time, delegates protected the role of the Queen in Canada’s political system. After the Convention had come to a close, Liberals could certainly call themselves supporters of democratic reform, but perhaps also supporters of practical public policy.

Many of the resolutions that came forward at the Convention were discussed in the delegate sessions that took place on the first two days of the Convention. Of the delegate sessions that I attended, a Saturday morning session dealing with democracy and good governance stands out in my mind. This session featured Stéphane Dion and Justin Trudeau as panelists, expressing their views on the preferential ballot resolution. This and other delegate sessions informed my voting choices at the Policy Resolutions Plenary on Sunday morning.

The race for the presidency of the Party and for the various executive positions was another highlight of the weekend. Until very recently I had not known much about the Party’s executive or about their place in the Party’s organizational structure. Over the weekend, through conversations with other delegates and through the debates on Friday night I was able to learn more about these important positions.

My experiences at the Convention exceeded my expectations in a number of ways. I felt that the resolutions dealing with democratic reform were indicative of change within the Party that I could support. In going to the convention I learned about the operation of the Party, specifically about the role of the president of the party. All things considered, I had an amazing weekend.

Josh Kaine, Federal President of the Ottawa West Nepean Young Liberals

 

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