fresh off les presses

My friend Howard and I wrote the below OP-ED peice which was published in this week’s
Hill Times.

PM may have ordered Gomery Inquiry, but courage is now needed to reshape Liberal Party, and to ensure this never happens again

By: David ***** and Howard ******

EDMONTON, ALTA. — As young Canadians who have been involved in federal Liberal Party politics for many years, we believe we speak for a great number of Young Liberals who are absolutely flabbergasted at the allegations unveiled at the Gomery Commission. We share the frustration, anger and resentment that many are feeling. The implications of these allegations, if proven true, are far ranging, and will sow the seeds of discontent for many years to come.

The decline of youth involvement in Canadian politics has been an issue which youth from all partisan backgrounds have striven to deal with for many years. Whether it is low youth turnout in election voting or the growing age of the average Canadian party member, democracy is losing the battle. Youth members from all parties have dedicated countless amounts of time and energy trying to involve our fellow young Canadians in our parties of choice. If one conclusion can be made from these exercises, it is that the youth of Canada are disenchanted, disengaged, and distrustful of politicians and political parties. When allegations such as those presented at the Gomery Commission are revealed, it only serves to grow the rift between the political process and the youth of Canada.

Young Liberals are, in general, moderates who steadfastly hold strong to eternaloptimism, a hunger to maximize equality of opportunity for all, and a belief that government can be a force for good. When we hear allegations that senior party officials, whom we look up to, are acting in a way that benefits a few rather than the many, we get angry. Perhaps we are idealistic, but young people demand that our leaders set our sights a little higher, and exhibit a betterstandard of behaviour. Nothing less should do, and nothing less will do.

Canadians have had a few weeks now to absorb the enormity of the allegations of wrongdoing. What is absolutely clear is that it is essential that we find resolution to potentially one of the greatest betrayals of the public trust perpetrated against the Canadian people. The Liberal Party of Canada requires a fundamental change in its mindset, its philosophy, and its way of operating. Governing a country is a privilege bestowed by the people who entrust it to accomplish the great aspirations of the nation. Governing a country is not a divine right to rule.

The Liberal Party of Canada has reached a critical junction at which it has the option of sinking or swimming in the hearts and minds of young Canadians. In the past few years, it has been clear that this is a party in need of reform and redefinition. What is needed is a Liberal Party which is not solely concerned with following the ups and downs of the weekly opinionpolls to gain and maintain its place in government at the cost of liberal values. What we believe is needed is an association of Canadian liberals from across the country who are committed to Canadian liberalism in policy and practice; an association which truly heeds to the will of its members across Canada, rather than a select few party bagmen and backroom strategists.

The Prime Minister may have established the Gomery Commission to get tothe bottom of the rot, but courage is what is needed now to reshape the Liberal Party to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. The party cannot spin its way out of the present mess—there must fundamentally be a renewal that starts from within. We cannot wait until Mr. Justice Gomery releases his two reports this fall. Instead, renewal must start now, from the premise that the Liberal Party is a vehicle for setting before the electorate policies that will lead to a better country, instead of a vehicle for the lust of power. When we are privileged to be the governing party, we must always keep in mind that Canadians expect the party to implement its policies in a way that is accountable to and respectful of the Canadian citizen, voter and taxpayer.

There are many Young Liberals like us who hold, in the words of the late GeorgesP. Vanier, “An active desire to right, as far as it was in my power, the heinous wrong done.” The Liberal Party of Canada can dobetter, and it simply must do better.

David ******** and Howard ***** are long-time members of the Alberta Young Liberals.

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