Monday, October 20, 2008

The Young Liberals and New Liberalism

A National Post article a few days after the election brought up the important fact that two of the Liberal Party's most attention grabbing policies, decriminalization of marijuana and gay marriage, came not from internal pollsters, backroom boys, or the caucus, but the Young Liberals.

As the party goes through a period of renewal and reflection, it is important for the Young Liberals, and for the party as a whole, to recognize the potential role and influence we can have as the party re-focuses. During the election, Young Liberals were the most solid volunteers and campaign workers the party had. Some of us dropped lit, some knocked on doors, some put up signs, some of us dressed up as kangaroos, some of us even managed campaigns or ran as candidates. No Young Liberal was ever a nameless "senior Liberal source" spreading discord, but we were out, working hard for the party. We will have 1/3rd of the delegates to the leadership convention, it is time for us to have 1/3rd of the power and show that we will be a united, progressive centre of power for change within the party, regardless of who we support in the leadership race. With this in mind, I present a few points that any leadership candidate who wants broad Young Liberal support should follow, and that Young Liberals themselves should remember:

1. Stress rebuilding over any other factor.
As many have said, regardless of questions of leadership, what the party really needs is re-building and re-focusing. In terms of turning "renewal" and "visions" from ideas into on the ground practices, the Young Liberals are very well equipped. The YLC is raising the most money for the party it ever has, which is critically important given that the party needs as much cash as possible right now, and needs to change fundamentally the way it raises money. Young Liberals can play a leadership role in terms of helping the party finances, and leadership candidates would be advised to acknowledge the role of youth in the party coffers.

2. Unity, Unity, Unity
Young Liberals should not be dragged into internal leadership debates. In the past, one reason we have no been as an effective force as we could have been is that we have reflected past divisions within the senior party. From a Young Liberal perspective, this is not something that helps. Regardless of who is the leader, the Young Liberals form the future of the party, and we need to realize the power and influence we can have for the better, and work together at every point of the race, upholding our shared values and goals regardless of who we support.

3. The Young Liberal Policy Voice
As mentioned, the Young Liberals have given the party in recent years some of the better and attention grabbing ideas it has come forward with. If the party is to rediscover what it means to be a Liberal in this country, the Young Liberals must play a crucial role in this, and leadership candidates need to acknowledge that.

Any suggestions are welcome.

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