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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A failing grade on "change" and "renewal"

This past weekend, the Liberal Party of Canada announced the creation of two new committees to deal with the ever-popular themes of “change” and “renewal”. The “Special Renewal Committee”, headed by former LPC National Director Steve MacKinnon and Mississauga MP Navdeep Bains, will be tasked with looking at the structures and mechanisms within the Party to engage both Party members and Canadians as a whole. For its part, the “Change Commission”, co-chaired by Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Party President Doug Ferguson, and local Party activist Brigitte Garceau, will apparently be focussing on “long term changes to the Party’s engagement, communications, fundraising, policy, and election-readiness strategies.”

“Change and renewal.” Laudable goals, indeed. Let's ignore the fact that we completed a similar exercise just two years ago with the Red Ribbon Task Force. Let's set aside the fact that many prominent Liberals have already written extensively about the topic time and time again. Let's forget the overlap, the redundancy, the lack of any real time-lines or deliverables. Let's just be glad the Party is – or at least seems to be – committed to the broad notions of “change” and “renewal”, and is willing to set up a process to achieve them. It's a good first step... Right?

Wrong. There are nine members of the Special Renewal Committee and three members of the Change Commission. That's twelve Liberals, representing most of the country (with the exception of BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, PEI, the territories, aboriginal communities and most of rural Canada). Most stunning to me, however, is that we're talking about twelve Liberals... And not a single Young Liberal!

Young Liberals should be surprised, disappointed and angry at the lack of youth representation in the Party's renewal process. We should be DOUBLY upset at the fact that part of the Special Renewal Committee's mandate is to review “the contributions of Commissions to achieving equitable representation in the party and the pursuit of our electoral objectives.” Put simply, the committee will be looking at the role of the YLC. What do we expect such a discussion to yield? Are we to believe that a committee without a single youth member will recommend a strengthened role for Young Liberals within the Party? More funding for our recruitment initiatives? Lower delegate fees for national conventions? A better appreciation for our policy ideas? Let's get serious!

People tell us we're the next generation of leaders in our Party. I beg to differ! I think we have the potential to be leaders today, to take the lead right now in making the changes our Party needs to grow and prosper. But to do so, we do need to get serious! As Young Liberals, we need to be more aggressive in asserting our role within the Party. We must not be shoved aside as an afterthought. Our role within the Party must be far bigger and far more substantial.

I'm running for President of the Young Liberals of Canada. Over the next few weeks and months, I look forward to sharing some of my ideas on what we need to do to build a stronger commission and a stronger Party. More importantly, I look forward to hearing some of yours. In the meantime, I urge you to let the Party know that Young Liberals want in on renewal!

Yours in Liberalism,



Please email the following people with your concerns!!:

Michael Ignatieff (Leader, Liberal Party of Canada):
Doug Ferguson (President, Liberal Party of Canada):
Cory Pike (President, Young Liberals of Canada):
Carolyn Bennett (Co-Chair, “Change Commission”):
Navdeep Bains (Co-Chair, “Special Renewal Committee):