Over 70 members of the Quebec branch of the Young Liberals of Canada (YLC) met with one of their party’s highest profile figures, Belinda Stronach, last week.
Stronach, the minister of human resources and democratic renewal for the Liberal government, spoke to the group of YLC representatives at Newtown, on the corner of Crescent St. and de Maisonneueve Blvd., last Wednesday. The group included members of the Liberal Concordia club.
According to Patrick Labastille, director of communications for Liberal Concordia, Stronach’s talk, “focused on issues she cares about, education and getting more young people involved in government.”
The visit was Stronach’s first to one of the party’s youth wings. Labastille said the YLC was “honoured” to host Stronach and praised her for her involvement with the youth.
“For someone who has only been in politics for two years, Belinda Stronach has come a long way in a very short period of time,” he said. “Her upcoming recommendations will likely have a strong impact on the Liberal party.”
Labastille also discussed Stronach’s defection to the Liberal Party last May, saying that her decision to change parties “only made sense.”
“She was heckled and booed by her own party (over her stance on same sex marriage),” Labastille said. “It wasn’t that big a surprise that she came over.”
This wasn’t the first time the YLC has had a visit from a high-profile former Conservative. Scott Brison, who left the Progressive Conservative Party over their merger with the Canadian Alliance, spoke to the group last spring.
Groups like Liberal Concordia are continually focussing on getting young people involved in politics and has drawn the attention of politicians like Stronach. During her time with the Conservative Party, Stronach wanted to encourage youth involvement and proposed the formation of a youth wing.
Labastille believes many of Canada’s youth are disillusioned with politics and, as a result, rarely participate.
“They think there’s no way they can get their voice heard,” Labastille said. “The Young Liberals are proof that the youth can play an important and very powerful role in Canadian politics.”
He said the YLC makes up around one third of the Liberal membership and are represented accordingly at national party conventions by giving them a “strong voice.” The YLC was especially strong in defeating the proposed missile defence agreement during last year’s Liberal convention.
The Quebec wing has over 5,000 members and university clubs, including Liberal Concordia, and are sending delegates to the conventions.
The YLC is currently preparing for the Quebec Liberal Biennial Convention, to be held in Montreal between November 10-13.
The YLC has also launched a poster campaign, which Labastille describes as, “trying to get people to show their pride in federalism.” The French posters, which feature members of the group in their underwear, has the slogan “Children of the Charter, Flaunt It.” The posters were distributed to universities across the province, but won’t be appearing at Concordia. The university, along with University of Montreal and the University of Quebec at Montreal, have banned the posters.