Incoming President’s Address
LPC ORM EDA AGM Aug 12, 2012
Clayton RF Haluza, President
Good afternoon, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your president for the coming year, it’s one I don’t take lightly. I wanted to take the opportunity today to outline to you my vision for the year ahead. It would be however impossible to speak of the year ahead, without first acknowledging the year that has just past. As without the accomplishments that we’ve had thus far my task would be significantly more difficult. To do this, I’m going to do something that Allan would never do; brag about Allan. Although our accomplishment s were the result of the collective effort of our riding’s committed team of volunteers, and we cannot understate the committed part, his leadership over the last year stands out. The tone that was set by, and the environment that was created by Allan’s leadership I believe was the spark that started the flame we now have in Oak Ridges Markham. As Allan and Winnie move on with the next stage of their lives together please accept our sincere thanks for what your leadership has helped us accomplish.
What we have accomplished was apparent to me when I was looking through the RSVP list before today’s event. It was apparent throughout the year when at our regular meetings there would continuously be new faces, new people emerging, and most importantly new people coming back. Yes, this is measured by numbers, and yes the membership list and the victory fund numbers are up, but, the results are more then spreadsheet data to be reviewed by the board. They are the human quality that has lead to, and will continue to build, the renaissance of our party, especially in our community.
For those of you here today who have never been to one of these before, welcome to the big red tent. It’s been a rough year for our tent, but, I am proud to say that in Oak Ridges Markham we have patched the holes, we have repaired her, and she’s ready again to be the place where Canadians of all walks of life, races, genders and religions come together to work for a better tomorrow. You see that’s what makes our party special. That is the defining quality of the Liberal Party of Canada, everybody is welcome, there is a place for all in our tent. What unites us in this party is our shared belief that tomorrow can be better then today, and it is our actions that will make it so. It is that belief that binds us together, not a rigid ideology, and our lack of rigidity allows us to entertain any and all ideas to make tomorrow better. We are guided by our values; our belief in government to empower the individual to succeed, that health care should be disturbed by need not Visa card limit, that we can make our country prosperous without making our country a wasteland and the list goes on. We may not always agree on how to accomplish these things, but, as Liberals we must always treat other’s ideas with respect. That is a fundamental requirement should our big red tent welcome Canadians into it, as together we work to make things better.
It is through that paradigm that I set our two priorities going forward. The first is welcoming, and the second is ideas, and trust me my friends should we get these right, should we make them our creed and live them our biggest problem will be where to put people in Michael’s backyard next year.
Welcoming maybe confused with “growth,” but I believe there is a difference. Growth is merely something that is measured. The number of members signed up. The number of dollars raised. Welcoming ultimately will lead to both of those things, but, it is how we approach it that is fundamentally different. Welcoming is the act of reaching out to our community, being with them, them being with us, and us becoming a part of each other. Welcoming is not done with fear, it is not done with hate, it is not done by creating anxiety. It is done by sharing our message, our values, our belief in making things better. Think about it. If you were to attempt to invite a friend over to your home would you do so by telling them your neighbour’s house was bad? That his home was full of reptilian kitten eaters and that’s why he should come to yours and not the other guys? Of course you wouldn’t, and the big red tent is no different. We will not build a sustainable party if the only argument we make is how bad the Tories or NDP are. We will only return ourselves to where we want to be by sharing our values, by sharing who we are, and by offering the people in our community the ability to be part of that. We can be proud to know that as we do this, thanks to the supporter initiative, the Liberal Party is now the most open and democratic political party in Canada. The party has given us the tools we need at the local level to succeed, we must seize them. My ask of all of our members and supports is that they help the board and I in this task. My ask is simple, go out and tell your friends, neighbours, relatives etc that you are a Liberal, share with them what and who we are. What to say in this regard is easy. Just think about why you’re a Liberal, why are you here today? Why do you love this country? And the answers will come. You’ll also find that most likely those answers have nothing to do with our opposition, but, all link back to the simple notion of making our country better. That is what we must share. That is how we will welcome people into our tent.
My second priority is ideas, also known as policy. My belief is that if you look back to history and reflect on what made this party great it wasn’t luck, or divine right, or even at times the men who lead us. It was our ideas. In the 90’s we put Canadians back to work. In the 70’s and 80’s we made Canada the most multicultural society on earth. In the 60’s it was healthcare irrespective of the ability to pay for Canadians from coast to coast. In the 1950’s it was taking the tools of war and making them the tools of peace. They were our ideas, be proud. They are our legacy to this country; they are why this country is great. It will be our ability to generate new ones that will make us great again. It is our ability to balance the desires of Canadians to free to be who and what they want to be, and the government’s ability to be empower them to do so. Policy, is often considered to be some far off process that is decided in Ottawa, but, it is not. Each and every riding has the ability to submit policy resolutions and we must take advantage of this. We must speak up. I am extremely happy to have Jane as our Policy Chair this year as I believe that based on her unique experiences she is absolutely the person we want in this role. For those of you who don’t know her, she is the chief of family medicine at Markham Stouffville hospital, a lecturer at the University of Toronto, and is on the committee that is presently establishing the first department of family medicine in Ethiopia. This list goes on, but, with health care consistently the top priority of Canadians I believe it’s clear why we are fortunate to have her in this role. The task is not for her alone however, it is to all of us, as this community belongs to all of us. The need for good ideas only re-enforces the need to be welcoming. As when the people in our community feel welcome among us, they will share with us their hopes, fears and dreams for this country. With those we can make better ideas. And with better ideas we can go back to where we all want to be. Where Canadians need us to be.
The road ahead is long friends; I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. We have a lot of work to accomplish in our community to get there. There will be days when the hill looks too tall to climb. There will be tasks we will need to complete that will be monotonous. But I won’t give up, neither will our board, we make that commitment to you now. We are all here and very serious about sending Liberals to Ottawa so this community can have the better future we all want. My ask is that all of you join us, welcome those around us to join us, and together we will make it better. As we go out into our community there may be those who think we can’t do it. You may see it on the news, or hear it at a coffee shop. They are wrong, we can, and we will. If this party can make Peter C Newman believe in re-incarnation, everybody else will be easy. When the time comes and somebody says to you “Steve you’re crazy,” or “Rosemary, you’re not going to do it.” My advice is simple. Turn and look them in the eye and say “just watch me.”
Thank you, I look forward to working with you over the next year.