This New Year will undoubtedly bring about enormous change for Liberals across Canada. Right here in Ontario, delegates will convene later in January to elect a new provincial leader of the Ontario Liberal Party who will replace Dalton McGuinty as Premier. Later in 2013, liberals across Canada will come together to choose a new leader for the Liberal Party of Canada. This choice will irrefutably have a significant and lasting impact on the future direction of the party, and arguably even Canadian history. At a time like now, when change and fresh beginnings are the air, it’s time for Liberals to sit down and think about how we want to proceed in 2013. How do we want to change? How do we want to be defined? In other words, it is time to sit down and make some resolutions – political resolutions – for the New Year.
I’ve written previously about what I call the “quasi-existential crisis of the Liberal Party”, and I’m sure I don’t have to reiterate the numerous struggles my party has faced in the last few years. With the situation as it is presently, Liberals across the country are left with a party that appears to be in shambles. With this issue dominating Liberal political life, it is hard to know how to proceed in rebuilding. As someone whose main involvement with the party has been post May 2011, I’ve had the opportunity to observe the party when it has been the most vulnerable. Thanks to that experience, I feel as I am able to identify one of the biggest challenges for the Liberal Party as it moves forward.
The direction of the Liberal Party at the moment is not as defined as it used to be, and because this change in leadership is so crucial, there are more voices about how the party should proceed now than ever before. As a result, it is easy to forget that we are all Liberals, and are fighting for the same party. In leadership races and in policy discussions, things can get heated, and, in some cases, infighting can undermine party unity. People with opposing opinions take any differing perspectives as personal (and not political) attacks. For neophytes, like myself, this can be a very hostile and intimidating environment to come into. From taking to many young Liberals, I get the sense that some feel that their voices do not matter, as it is more senior party members who tend to dominate discussion with what is, in essence, mindless bickering.
This is extremely unfortunate. As Liberals, we need to unite in order to make change. We can’t afford the time, the effort and the energy spent on petty fights. It has to be accepted that things will change – things are changing – and we as a party need to move forward together, or risk losing the party all together. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “we must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools”.
At the end of the day, what divides us – issues of policy, different leadership candidates, seniority – shouldn’t matter as much as what unites us. We are all Liberals, with a similar vision for Canada, and a passion for restoring Canadian values to Parliament Hill. Just as a house divided cannot stand, nor can a party. In order to make progress we have to concentrate on unity above all – and that’s what I resolve to do this year. Happy New Year everyone!
Blogger Bio Greta Hoaken is a high school senior, currently studying at The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto. In addition to serving as the Youth Director of the Eglinton-Lawrence Federal Liberal Riding Association, she is an active participant in Model United Nations, a debater, and unashamed history nerd. This past summer, Greta worked at The Globe and Mail in Toronto and volunteered with the Obama campaign in North Carolina. Since first getting involved in politics as a Liberal at the age of fifteen, Greta has become increasingly more interested in Canadian politics, namely the rebuilding and redefining of the Liberal Party of Canada. She plans to pursue a career in Canadian politics and the Foreign Service.