A few of us from Lethbridge: Dianne King, President; Zack Moline, Youth representative; Everett Tanis and I as past Candidates, attended the LPCA Convention in Edmonton this past week-end. Although the coverage in the Edmonton Journal on Saturday was good, so often due to distance such events get little attention in the local media, so here is an update:
The banquet with Michael Ignatieff, Leader on Friday, Feb. 27 was a sell-out success with over 800 in attendance; and Mr. Ignatieff did not disappoint! He gave a rousing speech emphasizing Alberta as the leading province and stating how no government should take Alberta for granted. He also emphasized the need to assist the oil industry in the tar sands in their greening process and suggested that rather than sending it unprocessed to the US that we need to consider installation of up-grader plants. He also said he will not allow the Conservatives to do to him what they did to Mr. Dion and he emphasized the need for increased grassroots involvement and funding in order to be ready for the challenge if the government falls. (On Thursday, Feb. 27 I had attended and heard Mr. Ignatieff speak in Calgary. Several hundred attended).
The Women’s Commission meeting on Thursday afternoon discussed ideas on how to entice more women to be involved. The Renewal Commission followed chaired by Dr. Bennett, similarly seeking ideas from attendees.
Saturday began at 7 am for those of us interested in the Agriculture meeting with the former Liberal Agriculture Minister Wayne Easter. Senators Banks, Fairbairn and Mr. Hodgeson, the LPCA President, attended the session as well. The standing committee on agriculture is ably chaired by Bob Russell from St. Albert, and along with Don Thompson and the other members of the committee, includes many experienced and notable farmers from across the province. Bob presented a brief from the committee outlining issues and recommendations. Issues included WCB, grain, cattle and even the listeria situation that occurred this past year. Bob and Don regularly travel across the province to talk and support where necessary, and do this at their own expense. They also lobby power and other interests to use wasteland for industrial and transmission purposes, so as to maximize the use of good land for crop production.
The major session of the morning consisted of reports and Kevin Feehan directed the afternoon session focussed on reviewing proposed amendments for the party’s constitution. Kevin did a super job. The more contentious were identified first and dealt with individually before the final resolution was adopted. The final session was a ‘bearpit’ format on Renewal. Several spoke and emphasized the need for “one person one vote’.
Several including Rocco Rossi emphasized the need for fundraising to guarantee our sustainability. Whether we like it or not, the reality is money is needed, especially for advertising. I note that the Conservatives raised 4:1 the amount the Liberals raised this past year. They garnered over $ 21 million versus Liberals approximate $5.6 million. Apparently only 5% of Liberals have been donating versus 50% of Conservatives; so we must change this
If we want to survive as a party and to be a serious contender to get the Liberal approach we desire we must all get serious about increasing our numbers and funds. Given Mr. Harper’s and his government’s lack of progress and questionable practices, we need to be ready in the event of a possible early election call.
As we returned home from the Convention, discussing and reflecting on the weekend’s events and process, we realized that we must make sure that our concerns and recommendations reach the right people in time for the National Convention in Vancouver, so that we can assure the expected empowerment of the grassroots.
We are a keen and involved group. Our monthly committee meetings are lively, as are our committee discussions; and Lethbridge is one of the more active ridings in the country. During the previous leadership campaign we had 9 of the 11 contenders come to our city and we intend to keep that pace.
So please, I appeal to every individual to assist by getting more involved. It should not be too much to ask that each of us sign up at least one new member. If everyone got one new member we would double our membership. I have already signed more than one and continue to press for more. Please call me if you need help or a membership form and remember there’s lots of great information on our website at www.liberal.ca.
Michael Cormican, Lethbridge EDA Liberal Candidate ’06 and ‘08