Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A conversation with YLC presidential candidate Sam Lavoie

Yesterday I posted an interview with YLC pesidential candidate John Lennard, and I also had a chance to speak with the other competitor fo YLC president, Sam Lavoie. We did this interview over e-mail, so the answers are his own unedited words.

The YLC race cetaintly looks to be one of the more interesting ones on tap for this convention. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Also, be sure to check-out Calgary Grit's interviews with John and Sam, and Scott Tribe's with John.

Jeff: Could you outline your position on the One-Member-One-Vote constitutional ammendment, and the ammendment to that ammendment proposed by the YLC?

Sam: I firmly believe that the YLC amendment is an improvement of the OMOV amendment. I think it enables the party to continue to have a strong, dynamic youth voice. No system is perfect certainly, OMOV is a step in the right direction for the party.

We've heard some people say that the YLC amendment won't do anything for recruitment. I think that misses the point - this is about retainment of our members - it keeps them engaged and active, because they know they have a say in the party.

The point of commissions is to give voice to those groups within the party that are under-represented. I think that's an important principle to maintain. We have been on the forefront of some of the most pivotal issues - from Kyoto to Same Sex Marriage, and the fight against Missile Defence. A strong youth commission ensures leadership candidates and the party leadership focuses on issues that impact young Canadians.

I think the YLC amendment strengthens OMOV, and it was proposed with the best interests of the party at heart.

Jeff: If the YLC ammendment does not pass, will you be supporting OMOV?

Sam: I am confident that the YLC amendment will be successful and I have faith in the delegates making the best choice. I am very much looking forward to that debate on the convention floor. I have faith in the delegates to make the decision that they feel is best in whatever circumstance.

Jeff: Would you support a comprimise that would lower the YLC weighting percentage to a number closer to the percentage of 14-25 year olds in the Canadian population?

Sam: As you know, amendments from the floor are not going to be entertained (or at least the threshold for it is extremely high). I do not want to get into hypotheticals but I would say that the 25% proposal from the YLC is a compromise from where we stand today which is one-third of the delegates.

Jeff: Speaking more broadly and putting aside OMOV, how do you propose to grow the YLC's membership and make it more of a force within the LPC?

Sam: We will make a concerted effort on campuses across the country to bring in new members. We need to provide these clubs with more resources and a wider array of options including greater use of online recruitment opportunities (Facebook comes to mind as one such tool).

We also know that there are a tremendous amount of student organizations on campuses - from issue-focused groups to multicultural youth groups that we can build stronger relationships with and bring into our party.

The goal of the YLC should be to represent the Liberal Party to young Canadians but also the views of young Canadians to the Liberal Party. A greater harmony between these views will no doubt build a stronger party that is relevant to young Canadians and their concerns.

Jeff: The YLC represents Libeals aged 14-25, but much of the focus seems to be in the college and university demographic. How would you make the YLC more relevant to high school students, and university grads? Should the cutoff be lowered from age 25?

Sam: Similar to my above answer, I think ensuring that the issues we are advocating are relevant to young Canadians and the way we convey those issues is reaching our audience is a natural way of bringing in new people.

I mentioned a greater emphasis on online recruitment which I think would really help in that capacity to bring in more high school students. I am very proud to have high school students like Jeremiah Kopp and Wesley Cohen as supporters who continue to give me great ideas about what the YLC can do on this level.

In terms of the cut-off age - I have not heard any rumblings about this - I think the threshold it is at today is good and would not see a need to change it.

Jeff: The YLC president also sits on the national executive and has a voice and a say on a lot of the renewal decisions facing the LPC. What are your thoughts on some of the wide party reform issues, and particularly the push-pull between the centre and the PTAs?

Sam: As any member would, I will make the decisions that I feel are best for the party and advance the interests of the party. It is no secret that we need to make the Liberal party more efficient in it's operations. That means more universal rules and implementation in some instances where those decisions are best streamlined. But it also means recognizing when local decisions are best made at the local level and allowing them to do so.

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