There is just one month left until the AGM in Hamilton, and I wanted to reach out to give you an update about what I’m hearing from Liberals across the province.
This week, party members were focused on the leadership election thanks to the passing of the deadline to submit constitutional amendments and an explosion of media coverage about potential candidates. A lot of great debate has already been shared online, at PLA meetings, and everywhere Liberals gather. But I wanted you to hear directly from me about where I stand on these two issues and the leadership race in general.
There’s a long-standing expectation that the party president should stay neutral on anything that might influence the outcome of the leadership race. That includes the system we’ll use to vote for the next leader and campaigning for or against any potential candidates.
Party members need to be able to trust that the president, party staff, and volunteers who run the leadership election are truly neutral and will deliver a fair and transparent race. I completely agree.
In 2012, I joined OLP’s Executive Council as the Regional Vice-President for the Southwest Region. I was elected by members at an AGM just like the one we’re about to gather for. And although we didn’t know it then, we were about to be plunged into the 2012-13 leadership election after the resignation of Premier McGuinty.
I decided to help the team at the party office, who were known as ‘Team Neutral’ because they took no sides in the race. Together, Team Neutral carried out a whirlwind leadership election that included five leadership debates, over 100 local leadership election meetings, and three rounds of voting at one of the most exciting conventions in memory. They were expected to deliver a fair and transparent race but they went above and beyond by helping to revive our party and put us on the path to a majority government.
Building a strong Team Neutral will be essential to the success of our upcoming leadership race. I’ve been involved in almost every role you can think of in the party - local volunteer, executive, candidate, MPP, and cabinet minister. That means, like you, I’ve built a lot of relationships with other members. Some of them will get into the leadership race as candidates or volunteers. I won’t be joining them or endorsing them.
I also won’t be endorsing the status quo when it comes to how we choose our leaders or any amendments seeking to replace it. Taking a position on either could bias the race in favour of individual candidates, which is something the next president can’t do.
Instead, I’m committed to leaving these decisions up to the membership. While I firmly believe that we must open up and grow our party, I believe it’s up to the members to determine what that will look like. It will be up to members to decide how we vote for our next leader and it will be up to members to choose who that leader will be.
My job, if elected president, will be to remain neutral in the leadership race, to make sure your voice is heard in the months ahead, and deliver the change members are asking for.
If we haven’t had a chance to connect yet, get in touch by messaging me on social media or sending me an email through my website. I want to hear from you and I’m looking forward to discussing your ideas for rebuilding our party in the weeks ahead.