It’s been a busy couple of months for the Liberal Party – and we are continuing to regain the trust and support of our fellow Canadians as they look to us for new ideas and to hold the Harper Government to account.
I had the honour and privilege of Co-Chairing our National Biennial Convention in Ottawa in January, where a record number of Liberals gathered to debate policy, make fundamental changes to how our party is governed, and above all else, to show Canadians that the Liberal Party is the only united, progressive, fiscally responsible choice to lead our country. It was a remarkable weekend: in my opening comments I was asked what my hopes for the convention were, and there were two thoughts that came to mind – the first was that we come out of the convention united in our desire to build a forward looking party with bold new ideas and a sense of purpose, and the second that we begin a new Liberal movement that would spread across Canada, person by person, community by community, city by city, until the positive, inspiring message of the Liberal party could be heard by all.
When we set upon the stage for our final moments at the convention, I looked out onto the thousands that had braved icy roads, cold weather, long flights and long nights. And I saw smiles, I felt a sense of hope, a sense of determination, and a commitment to work together across differences to build a better Canada. And as I stood beside the other Co-Chairs, Mauril Belanger, Noushig Eloyan, and Randy Boisonnault, each of us agreed that our party is strong and that we really are starting something new.
Coming out of that euphoria, we have renewed strength in pushing our message outward, and North Vancouver Liberals have been at the forefront of the fight against the Harper Conservative agenda on Canada. Joyce Murray and I joined OpenMedia.ca at a forum at UBC on bill C-10, the Vic Toews sponsored legislation that would force internet providers to provide law enforcement and government agencies access to the email accounts and internet records of ordinary Canadians without a warrant. For a government that refused to share Gun Registry records with the provinces on grounds of privacy, it’s a curious and suspect move to allow law enforcement to snoop what we write and which sites we visit without the need for a warrant.
Similarly, over the last few weeks, we have been shocked by the abuse of democracy that is the Robo-calling scandal. Even Prime Minster Harper’s own former Chief of Staff, Ian Brodie admits that “something has gone on, on a scale I’ve never seen before”. A number of incidents have been brought to our attention in North Vancouver, and we are encouraging anyone who received a misleading call to alert elections Canada immediately. These types of voter suppression tactics are an affront on democracy and I have called for a full Public Inquiry into the these incidents so that Canadians will know the truth – and so that the perpetrators can be held to account. If the allegations are true, then political operatives will have committed crimes that must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. It will be a fine opportunity for Stephen Harper to put his new prisons to good use.
I encourage you to challenge, at every turn, government polices that are reshaping our country for the worse – the new Crime bill, the new Immigration legislation, bill C-10 – the opportunities are limitless. Find an issue you believe in, and hold this government to account. This is truly a team effort, so talk to you friends and neighbors about these issues and make them aware of what’s going on in Parliament.
We also have much to look forward to as we begin spring, and as many across North Vancouver celebrate the holiday of Norouz. Norouz marks the beginning of the New Year for the Persian and Ismaili communities, and we extend a heartfelt Norouz Mubarak to all. This holiday marks a time of renewal and rebirth, and just as the Liberal party renews itself and welcomes new members and supporters, it is a time for us to reflect on the contributions that we can all make to our community and to our Country as we celebrate the arrival of spring. We will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms later this spring, and this should be a catalyst for us to reach out to our friends and share with them the Liberal vision for Canada that emanates from the Charter.