Category Archives: Blog
Hey Young Liberals!
Policy Parliament is right around the corner, and as such, it’s time to flex our own policy muscles.
We’ll of course workshop our policies at our upcoming policy meeting (go and vote on a time if you haven’t already!) but here’s a place to start building out your idea.
Federal/Provincial – is your policy going to affect only Ontario or the country at large?
Title – Keep it simple, direct, and to the point.
Authorship – WHO ARE YOU!?
Preamble – “Whereas” statements, providing the background for and basis of your policy. Why do we care? Why is this important?
Direction – Your BIRT statements. What are we going to do about it? What position or actions are we going to take?
Here’s an example I happened across and borrowed from oyl.org. It’s from their 2010 Summer Fling policy document:
HIGH SPEED RAIL IN CANADA: DEVELOPING A PROGRESSIVE RAIL SYSTEM, WHILE ENSURING A GREEN FUTURE
Jessica Stark and Richard Francella
WHEREAS Canada’s railway system is currently an important travel option for Canadians and is an economically and environmentally justifiable alternative to other means of transportation which produce higher emissions,
WHERAS Canada is subject to strong public pressure to achieve its carbon emission reduction targets as per the Copenhagen Accord,
WHERAS VIA Rail currently faces low ridership due to its slow travel times and aging infrastructure,
WHEREAS high speed rail has been proven to have extremely positive effects on tourism in both Europe and Asia,
WHEREAS the United States has recently unveiled a high speed rail proposal of its own, and has urged Canada to also adopt a high speed rail system in order to compliment this planned network,
WHERAS over 80% of Canadians favour the prospect high speed rail, according to a 2009 EKOS poll,
WHEREAS a high speed rail system will provide an inter-provincial transportation option that has no reliance on foreign oil and provides efficient travel times for Canadians,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Ontario Young Liberals urge the Liberal Party of Canada to significantly increase funding and create a policy for a high speed railway system as part of its platform.
BE IT FURTHER RESOVED THAT this system would link major cities in widely used rail corridors in order to increase employment and ensure green and efficient transportation for Canadians.
BE IT FUTHER RESSOLVED THAT Canada would investigate the prospect of linking its high speed system with that of the United States in order to ensure travel constancy on shared routes.
So what are your policy ideas? Let’s get writing!
Paddle your own canoe, guys and gals,
What is Canada? Is it a country built upon the foundations of two dominant cultures? Is it a country which believes in freedom and prosperity? Following these questions are usually passionate opinions about anything from history, social justice, economics, all the way to government. Now, these perspectives are perhaps answered differently by those of us who would identify as Aboriginal peoples –First Nations, Metis, or Inuit. For centuries, on this side of the planet now known as North America, there were -and still are- many distinct peoples, from the East to the West, North to South. Today, this population is about 1,172,790 plus, and the median age of Aboriginal people, since the 2006 census, is 27. In comparison to the median age of non-Aboriginals there is a ten year gap. As an Algonquin Young Liberal I see this as an opportunity to engage with young Aboriginal people across the country. The ten year gap means that there are many interests that are not being met by traditionally non-Aboriginal institutions, such as parliament. This New Generation of Aboriginal people will either have to live with the ideals of a disillusioned Harperland, or the prospect of a new Just Society. In this article there will be some suggestions on how to engage young Aboriginal people, whether it is through social media or by incentives through the Liberal Party. I will also discuss how Aboriginal voices are capable of being applicable to Canada, while maintaining a foundation of indigenous culture.
Social media is a tool that is very powerful in the organization and distribution of information in contemporary society. Facebook, twitter, and any other form of social media have been mobilized in various ways of organizing people. The Liberal Party should take note of this when trying to branch out to young Aboriginal people. Have an online forum which invites young Aboriginal people into areas that would provide context in the creation of policy. The focus for the Liberal party should be to listen and to respect. If the Liberal Party is capable of providing a foundation for Aboriginal ideas, then peaceful and prosperous relations will follow.
The Liberal Party should also have some incentives that would provide a real look into what it means to be a Young Aboriginal person within Canada. Young Aboriginal people can show what it means to be a member of this country, while being members of their nations. It can also provide a vast rich context of how different places interact with Aboriginal people, whether it is in a fly-in community far north, or in a suburb in Toronto. A suggestion would be to not emphasize such incentives for partisan purposes. This may narrow or turn off people. It should be an incentive to participate, not indoctrinate.
As a young Aboriginal person, one should look at their own body. That body has been inherited by many centuries of survival and community. It is not a product of enslavement, nor of selfishness. It should be acknowledged that it is there for many reasons and many purposes that can be used for a great good. In Canada, that body can provide great insight to a much needed listener. To be active in national politics can serve purposes of a great good. Within every person there is a potential leader. Canada needs these leaders. That being said, it does not mean that being active in the forming of Canada equates to assimilation or conformity. Young Aboriginal leaders should not be told to follow a particular path when there is reason not to. To be a leader means that one will have the strength to retain their culture and to fight for social equality.
As a young Algonquin, I feel it is necessary to say that my opinion is not universal to all Aboriginal people, but an opinion nonetheless. In the past year, I have seen many changes, some positive, but mostly negative. It was pretty cool to be at that Liberal Biennial last January to hear an acknowledgement of the unceded Algonquin territory that the event took place on. It brought a smile across my face. I heard a similar thing said at a Crown-First Nations gathering later said by the Prime Minister. That too brought a smile. What did not bring a smile to my face was the fact that when that wampum belt was revolved to mark a “new relationship,” many budget cuts were aimed at Aboriginal programs and organizations later. Also, Conservative ministers were making claims that Aboriginal people were dysfunctional. To paraphrase, one even said that Aboriginal people hunt every day; therefore there is no problem with food security. I also cringed when I heard that the Prime Minister would rather lay blame at those people in Attawapiskat, rather than to help them. These types of actions and talk do not maintain peaceful relations between Aboriginal peoples and the crown. Liberals should take note of this now. The Liberal Party should take the initiative to try and engage young Aboriginal leaders and to encourage them to lead. By encouraging discussion and participation, peace should follow; and ensuring peace should be at the forefront of every decision, hard or easy. Peace holds communities together. Peace means mutual respect. Peace means prosperity.
Miigwetch, Merci, and Thank You
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.
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!
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!