THE BLOG

Too Young To Run? Not Me.

01/12/2012 09:54 EST | Updated 03/13/2012 05:12 EDT

This weekend in Ottawa, Liberal delegates will have the opportunity to effect real change at the heart of our party, to allow for a long-overdue generational shift among our party's leadership, and to begin creating the most open political party in the history of Canada.

Rebuilding isn't easy. The Progressive Conservatives blew up in the 1993 election and it wasn't until 18 years later that a nominally conservative party managed to form a majority in the House of Commons. Although I don't expect our party's rebuilding process to take nearly that long, the long-term nature of renewal makes one thing clear: The road forward must be led by a new generation of Liberals capable of putting in the several years' worth of effort necessary to get the job done.

Liberals understand this. Over the course of my campaign to be elected National Policy Chair -- which I began in the summer -- I have been lucky enough to travel from coast to coast: from Victoria, B.C. to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The ideas that our campaign for change has been presenting -- from the need for a generational shift to proposing concrete ways to empower our party's grassroots -- have been resonating with Liberals across the country.

We need to simplify the policy process, create new forums for policy development, and strengthen our messaging in order to modernize our party and engage the liberal grassroots. Young Liberals are among the best equipped to modernize the party to achieve these goals -- after all, in the era of the 140-character tweet defining a party's message, who knows best how to master the hardware needed to win elections besides young people?

In addition to knowing the hardware (e.g. social media), young Liberals have also had a vision for the software (e.g. policy) ahead of their time. For instance, it was young Liberals that fought for the legalization of same-sex marriage for years before a Liberal government finally went through with the measure to usher in a new era of enhanced equality in Canada.

Our party is at an exciting crossroads. Those attending the Liberal Biennial Convention will be playing an important role in determining what liberalism will mean for Canadians in the 21st century.

At the same time, I don't believe that it is alarmist to suggest that we've got only one chance to get the rebuilding process right. We've got to be ready to fight an election in 2015 against two parties with rigid ideologies and robust campaign machines -- a fight that won't be easy. Young Liberals aren't just the future. They're also the present.

Look south of the 49th parallel or at the Old Continent and observe the consequences of the destruction of the partisan and political centres: The ideological centre eventually fades away as well, ushering in the rise of non-pragmatic ideologies that cannot deliver real results for the people.

The fight to save the Liberal Party -- the coalition of the serious at the heart of Canadian politics -- is a fight for the people of the country we love. It's time to put an end to the sandbox. In order to bring Liberals together, voices of all ages and stripes must be heard.

It's time for change.