After some much-needed sleep, I can now comment on the extraordinary things that happened this weekend at the Liberal Convention.
One, the hugely positive buzz of a political party bent on renewal, and the buzz from the results of votes on policy and on people that contributed to that sense of renewal, were amazing. The vote to include "supporters" and not just members in deciding the next Leader is one I'm proud to say I voted for.
I don't for a minute think that this will be a cure for all ills, but there's no question that many Canadians are hesitant about "joining" a political party, yet who are keen to have a voice, and this could be a great way to allow those voices to be heard. And the election of Mike Crawley as President is terrific. He has been talking about real action on changing some of the bureaucratic challenges in the party, making us more efficient, and really moving us forward, all in a very inclusive way. There is a lot of hard work to do, but it's a great start.
Kudos to Sheila Copps, for whom I have great admiration; Ron Hartling, with a proven track record in Kingston, who offered excellent ideas which must be included in the future plans; and Alexandra Mendès, with whom I had the pleasure to work with as co-MP. During the campaign for president, all three added immensely to the debate on the future, and the Party is far better for them having run.
On policy, the passing of the resolution to legalize marijuana is something I've been encouraging for years. My mum would have been pleased too. Not because at 87 she smoked a lot of pot :-) No, in fact, she never even tried it. Her view was quite simply that prohibition didn't work for alcohol, but instead caused all sorts of other problems. It doesn't work for marijuana either, and the problems created by illegality were all too familiar to someone who lived through the prohibition era. I'm sorry she wasn't here to see this. The next step is achieving government so we can actually change the law. I will be writing more on this subject...Stay tuned.
Finally, thank you in particular to the youth who attended. They made up over a third of the 3200 delegates! You can't say you're on the path to renewal and think anyone really believes you if you don't have young people participating. But as I said in my speech to the Young Liberals biennial: the younger people in the Party are not "the future" -- they are the present, the here, and now. And they showed it.
It was an extraordinary convention. Now is time to get down to work, to translate this optimism and these new directions into action. We have a lot to do, but I am confident in our future in a way I wasn't a week ago, and I know that there are a lot of people across this country who feel the same way.