Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hamilton Young Liberals Summit 2013: Progressivism is NOT Dead in Canada

by Eyrie Clark

"The Liberal Party is dead" is a famous saying which many Canadians have heard before. On Sunday the 23rd of June, I attended the Hamilton Young Liberals Summit, hosted at McMaster University by a small group of their devoted students. I'm here to tell you that the Liberal Party, and thus progressivism as a whole, is very much alive and well in Canada and Canadians.

Me with Ivan Luksic (Left), the Liberal candidate for my riding.
The event was attended by a number of Liberal politicians, from incumbent riding presidents to up-and-coming candidates for the Hamilton area, including the Minister of Community and Social Services Ted McMeekin, who decided to spice up his presentation by bursting out into song, something which can only be described as interesting.

After some brief speeches from each of these figures, including some involved students from the university group, the 'official' summit ended and the exciting part began: networking. After the speeches, they opened the floor to the audience to meet with all of the speakers, talk to them personally, and become acquainted. I personally got to meet a few of the politicians, including Ivan Luksic, pictured above with me. He will be running for the position of Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for my riding. Without delving into too much detail, an MPP is basically a lesser version of an MP; instead of legislating federally for Canada as a whole, MPPs Legislate and have authority in Ontario only.

The conversations were lively, pleasant and interesting, and I myself was presented with some very unique opportunities to become involved in the Young Liberals, including joining a local Young Liberal Association that just started in my riding no more then three weeks ago.

The Young Liberals are, in a sense, the direct youth voice in the Liberal Party of Canada. Their ages range anywhere from 14-25, and active clubs meet on a regular basis to, among other things, discuss how best to promote the Liberal Party in their ridings, hold community events, and vote on various policies suggested by other youth in the groups. Granted enough support from the members of the Young Liberals, their policies eventually make it to the attention of the federal party, and some of the stances the youth wing takes are then adopted by the party itself, like the much-famed push for the legalization of Marijuana led by the Young Liberals, which was then adopted at the next Liberal convention. The youth wing also pushed to abolish Canada's ties to the monarchy, but that had less fortunate results

The Liberals pride themselves on their youth wing, with good reason. It allows youth to get involved in politics at both the provincial and federal levels, and network with all sorts of people, both inside and outside of politics. Throughout its history, the Young Liberals has served as a sort of training-ground for future politicians, such as former Prime Minister Jean Chr├ętien, former Liberal leader Micheal Ignatieff, and even our current Conservative Prime Minister Steven Harper has some history with them.

In many cases, the Young Liberals have been even more progressive than the actual party, adopting same-sex marriage as early as 1994. The youth wing has often pushed the larger party to take stances that are too challenging or too radical politically, but their persistence is infamous, and with good reason, as I'm sure many Liberal politicians will tell you.

In short, The Liberal Party of Canada is far from dead, and some can argue that the voice of the youth had a part in that. The future seems bright not just for progressivism in Canada, but for the youth as well.


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