Hi! My name is Ryan and I am a volunteer for TeamMHF. This Saturday, I was one of several Willowdale representatives at the 2nd Annual Toronto Regional Day organized by the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario). “Ready to Win” was the event’s title, as the purpose of the day was to help prepare those of us at the grassroots level for an election campaign, if an election is called.
The lobby of the Ryerson University meeting room was buzzing when I arrived a few minutes before 8:30 in the morning. There were a lot of familiar faces present, including a number of people I recognized from the Vancouver convention in May. There wasn’t a lot of time of time for chatting over coffee, though, as the schedule was packed!
For the first break-out session of the day, we were assigned to tables with people from other ridings as well as our own. Along with several other Willowdaleans, I was seated with number of people from Etobicoke-Lakeshore, the riding of Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. We were given ten minutes to come up with an election preparedness plan given the hypothetical scenario of an election in six months. The mixed seating arrangement gave us the opportunity to exchange our ideas and our experiences from past campaigns.
After each table shared their plan, an “expert panel” composed of experienced past campaign managers provided advice and recommendations for improving the plan. Several more break-out sessions throughout the day continued on this theme, with variations on the time frame from 6 months to two days.
We broke in the middle of the day for a lunch of sandwiches and salads (which was included with registration!). This provided more opportunities to meet and chat with Liberals from all over the Toronto region.
The highlight of the day for me was a speech by Rocco Rossi, National Director of the Liberal Party of Canada. He spoke with great conviction about the challenges facing the party, but also about the huge strides that we have made. Mr. Rossi stated that the party needs for every Liberal in Canada to see themselves as personally responsible for the party’s future. He challenged each of us to recruit at least one new Liberal—which would double membership if everybody did this!
The event was a great opportunity to hear some expert advice from seasoned campaign runners. For me, the most helpful input came simply from connecting with people from other ridings in Toronto, sharing ideas and stories from past campaigns. I should mention that Eileen Shuchat, who is Toronto Region president for the LPC(O), did a great job in organizing the event and is actually from Willowdale herself! We left the event energized and ready to fight an election regardless of when the next one will be held.