By DJ Shuman
The weekend of April 20th Halifax welcomed over three thousand Liberals from across Canada to our city for their biennial policy convention. Personally, I have never been to one of these conventions, so it was a very new experience for me. This year marks the first time that the Liberals’ convention has been has been held in Atlantic Canada. As the next federal election is just under a year away, and they are just on the heels of their success in the 2015 win, the Liberals were pleased to receive their best turnout ever, as well as the youngest convention ever.
As a young person interested in politics, attending this convention as a delegate was a very fascinating experience to see party interaction in person. Based on my age, it was a very optimistic picture seeing that young people are getting more involved across the board. Voter turnout, when it comes to youths, has increased by leaps and bounds in the past decade. In 2011, Elections Canada reported that 38.8 percent of youths voted. In the following federal election, the number jumped again, to 57.1 percent of youth in 2015.
After all of this, I wasn’t surprised to see this was the youngest convention ever, and it seems the party took notice that we were there. The Liberals put on presentations that taught older generations how to reach out to us, and taught us how to be more involved in the party and campaign season. It is in these sessions that I learned that young people have a deep history in the party, and are the root of the potential legalization of marijuana.
For the first time ever, the convention had members vote on a large list of policies to narrow them down to a list of just fifteen. On top of this, registration has been touted as cheaper than any convention before, and there were a variety of workshops dedicated to accessibility and connecting between generations and other divisions. As trends for gatherings of all parties are seeming to go a similar way, it seems like politics is more open than ever to the average Canadian.
Based on the general theme of the policies that were put forward, as well as observations from parties across the country, Canada is following the trend of keeping politics as open to average Canadian as possible. On top of this, leadership of each party are noticing the value of diversity. Youth are increasingly welcomed in, and peers and myself are walking in with open arms.