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Monday, September 21, 2009

Let the people decide!

On May 2, 2009, in a remarkable show of party unity, Liberals from across Canada gathered in Vancouver to select Michael Ignatieff as our new leader. The convention thrived on the sense that renewal was here, that change was coming, and that Liberals were finally ready to set aside decades of internal divisions and take this country back.

Five months later, we still see the remnants of our party's less-than-democratic past. In the Québec riding of Outremont - once a Liberal bastion, now trending NDP under Thomas Mulcair - the “party brass" has decided to forego a democratic nomination process in favour of appointing a "star" candidate. They seek to disenfranchise local Liberals by muscling out three fantastic candidates:

● Dr. Comlan Amouzou, a community organizer and Chair of the party's multiculturalism committee in Québec;
● Sébastien Dhavernas, a highly-regarded leader in Québec's artistic community and 2008 Liberal candidate in Outremont; and
● The Hon. Martin Cauchon, Canada's former Justice Minister, who led the Chrétien government's efforts to legalize same-sex marriage;

Any one of these individuals would make a fine Liberal candidate. And quite frankly, the voices of local Liberals deserve to be heard in determining who that nominee will be!

So what are we waiting for? Liberals (and especially Young Liberals) have an obligation to push for democracy within our Party. We have to be clear and unambiguous in saying to the party bigwigs: Enough is enough! Let the riding choose! Let the democratic process play itself out! And when all is said and done, let's get behind a legitimate candidate who has the confidence and support of the community they wish to serve.