I've been a Liberal all my life.
From an early age - when most kids are still reading "The Cat In the Hat" my Liberal parents had me reading newspaper editorials about Trudeau, Lalonde, Chretien, Goodale, Clark (all the inspirational "moderate" leaders of the day), and summarizing my findings. It was great practice for English class, and helped build a strong liking for all things "middle of the road".
I first met PM Pierre Trudeau in 1980 in Montmarte Sask. I was in awe of the man, and the meeting left an indelible impression on a young kid from the Prairies. I was impressed how he filled the basement of the Roman Catholic Church in Montmarte that day. Among the crowd were a LOT of young people. High School, Elementary, even Pre-school. The PM was enthralled to mingle with us all.
Through the years I've chanced to participate in inspiring moments for the party, and for Canada. I was involved in election campaigns - door-knocking, dropping leaflets, posting lawn signs, organizing youth and my ethnic community. I went to conventions (both BiEnnial and Leadership) as a Young Liberal.. I helped found the first riding and campus clubs in my part of the Prairies. I spoke in plenaries at Conventions - both Federal and Provincial.
All along, it has never escaped me how this party is a 'magnet' for youth. We have the right policies. We have the right principles. We have the right mentors. We are a young party...
Let me expand on that "mentor" point a little... The great leaders in our party have served as inspiring examples for many a Young Liberal. I benefited from the tutelage and examples set by leaders like Trudeau, Chretien, Martin, Goodale, McKenna, Tobin, Haverstock, Campagnolo, etc., etc. I recall one day in 1992 or 93, when Paul Martin visited Regina. He gathered a group of Young Libs together (there were about a half dozen of us at a Chamber Breakfast), put his arms around us in a huddle, and ASKED US what we would like to see in the famous Red Book. He ASKED for our opinions, and he told us all that we were the future of the party. This is the kind of inclusive leadership our party brings when engaging youth... and really, all voters. Unlike the Conservatives we actually HAVE a youth organization. It is because we care about youth, and because the youth are a great asset to our party.
I remember vividly, a Biennial in 1994, in Ottawa. I recall "senior" Liberals (non-youth) helping out with rooms, lunches/dinners... and inspirational talks. I recall never having to pick up a tab in numerous Ottawa eateries, because there was always some Liberal who would "take care of the youth". I remember this, and as a "senior" myself now, I practise the same. I have sponsored youth fund-raisers, I've helped bring youth into riding associations and events in my home, and this year I'll be billeting some Young Liberals in my Greater Vancouver home.
A few years ago - 2005 Biennial in Ottawa - I was the lead-off speaker on the Same-Sex marriage resolution. After I had spoken I listened intently to several speakers (which I might add were pretty much unanimous) speak to the resolution. Many of the speakers were youth. Their words were heartfelt and well-thought-out. One of the youth, whom I recall quite vividly, was a youth by the name of John Lennard. John said some very supportive things on the resolution, and I recall thinking "this guy's just what this party needs more of"... I wasn't the only one. A group of my compatriots from Alberta and Saskatchewan were equally awed. We all commented on the level of engagement within the ranks of Liberal youth.
Fast-forward to 2009, and I've chanced across the young Mr. Lennard again. This time he is an engaged, hard-charging candidate for the Presidency of the Young Liberals. John is the very essence of what Young Liberals are. He is bright, energetic, knowledgable of the issues, and looking to bring change and grow the party. John has worked with Young Liberals from across Canada. He has helped bring in many new youth members. Recently, he has challenged youth to join him in the engagement of new members and Young Liberals alike, and supporting the idea of OMOV.
"if we doubled our membership, imagine how many Young Liberal riding presidents we could have? Imagine how many Young Liberal candidates we could nominate? And if we REALLY took our role as leaders of a national youth movement seriously, imagine how many Young Liberal MPs we could elect?" - John Lennard.
John's challenge to Young Liberals - to double their numbers - is something that everyone in the party should support (We've all heard "the youth are our future" cliched about... but this is our chance to act... I would even suggest we lower the membership fee for youth to help the process along!). He is focused on policy development, outreach, organization in rural areas, communication, and fund-raising, as they relate to youth, and to the greater good of the party.
I urge everyone to take notice of the great campaign going on in the Young Liberal ranks, in the bold new initiatives, and in the tremendous level of engagement. I guide you to John's site, for more details on his vision for Young Liberals, this party, and this great land of ours'...
Help a Young Liberal shape Canada's future today...