Monday, January 18, 2010

Better know an LPC(O) VP-organization candidate: Jamie Maloney

The biennial convention of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) is coming-up in Windsor from February 5 thru 7th. Most of the executive positions have been acclaimed, but there is one big race: vice-president, organization.

With James Morton’s decision to withdraw from the race there are two candidates contesting the position: James Curran and Jamie Maloney. To help those of you that will be delegates in Windsor (alas, I won’t be able to make it myself) I prepared a few questions for the candidates about their experience, and their priorities for the position and for the Liberal Party.

This morning, I bring you the answers from Jamie Maloney. Watch this afternoon for the answers from James Curran. Be sure to seek them both out in Windsor to learn more about them and then cast your votes for the candidate that best reflects your concerns and priorities.

(Note: I present their answers unedited and unabridged. The same questions were asked of both candidates. Both candidates submitted their answers by Sunday evening, so neither had the opportunity to review the other's answers before responding.)

Why do you want to be the vice-president for organization?

The Vice President Organization has a great opportunity to help every Liberal riding association in Ontario as they prepare to fight and win the next election. There are several aspects to this job, but I believe this to be the priority.

Organization, to me, means structure, support and training. Support can be provided to our riding associations in several ways. Members of our association’s executives must have a clear understanding of their roles, and they must have the tools and techniques necessary to carry out the tasks required of them in those roles. They cannot and should not be expected to do this alone.

The V.P. Organization should be helping to define those roles through written job descriptions and more importantly, through instruction manuals, that guide our volunteers through the operations of their positions. But we cannot stop there. We cannot simply give a volunteer a manual and wish them good luck. We have to continue to support them in their efforts by offering them professional development through training, workshops and seminars, bring our best practices to them, sharing our best ideas with them.

If we can accomplish this then all of our associations will be stronger and better equipped to fight and win. That’s why I want to be the V.P. Organization. I want to help the Liberal party win the next election, from the ground up!

What experience and background do you bring to this position, both inside and outside the party?

I have been a Liberal my whole life. I was born into a Liberal family and have embraced our values and our culture from an early age. The Liberal family is, in many ways, my extended family. So when I say I have a lifetime of grassroots, on the ground, experience, I’m not kidding!

I’ve worked in municipal, provincial and federal politics. I’ve also had the great fortune to have very different political experiences, having worked on political campaigns in Thunder Bay, Windsor, Toronto and Lennoxville, Quebec. I’ve worked in rural and urban settings, small and large communities. These experiences help me to appreciate not only how our communities across the province differ, but also what binds us together, as Liberals and as Ontarians.

As for my political experience, I was an active member of Allan Rock’s campaigns in 1993, 1997 and 2000. I served as Co-Chair for Hon. Jean Augustine’s campaign in 2004 and then was Co-Chair for Michael Ignatieff’s 2006 and 2008 campaigns.

I’ve worked closely with Hon. Laurel Broten, M.P.P., serving as her riding association president for the provincial association of Etobicoke Lakeshore. I am currently (and have been since 2006) the Etobicoke Lakeshore Federal Liberal Association President.

Professionally, I’m a lawyer, and have been since 1994, but please don’t hold that against me! Just thought it best to let you know that. I’m a partner at the Toronto firm Hughes, Amys. In my capacity as a lawyer I’ve had the opportunity to teach. I was given the opportunity in the late 1990s to teach a course in New Media Law at Centennial College, which I enjoyed very much.

I’m not only not new to the world of volunteerism, I have been volunteering for many years with organizations outside of our Liberal family as well. I believe that if one is able to do so, it’s important to participate in volunteerism in our expanded communities as well. I’ve been a member of Leadership Sinai, a volunteer wing of Mount Sinai Hospital, and I’ve worked with the Ontario Brain Injury Association. I’ve also served two terms as the president of The Lawyers Club, and was a board member of the Ontario Public Accountants’ Council. All of these experiences have helped me develop my organizational skills.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Liberal Party of Canada in Ontario today?

Certainly every political party faces challenges, and some of them even overlap between the parties. We want to increase voter participation, we want to ensure we are relevant to the public, and we want the public to care more about the politics of their country.

For me, all of this spells outreach. There is outreach (external outreach) into our communities, and then there is internal outreach, where we connect better with our own membership.
We have to reach out into our broader communities and find ways to relate to the public, whether they are seniors or youth, new Canadians or established communities. We have to understand what issues are most important to people, and we have to find ways to bridge the gaps.

Internally, we have to reach out to our own membership base. Outreach begins at home, with membership retention. We must ensure that our membership base in one of our top priorities. Membership in the Liberal party must be meaningful, and that means actively engaging our members through internal initiatives.

The V.P. Organization can assist in bridging those gaps by supporting the work of our volunteers, at the association level. Again, this is another example of working from the ground up, within our communities.

What is your view of a 308-riding strategy?

I share many of the views of the authors of the 308-riding strategy document, however, it is important for your readers to know that the 308-riding strategy is meant as a national strategic document. It deals with issues that can only be dealt with at the national level, for example: Services from the national head office to the PTAs, the role of Commissions within our party, and the federated structure of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Can we talk, instead, about a 106-riding strategy? We have 106 ridings in Ontario, so let’s bring this strategy closer to home.

Again, I want to talk about support. The V.P. Organization helps to support the initiatives of our riding associations. Those initiatives, like outreach, membership retention and fundraising (as a few examples) are what’s needed if we’re going to have strong, healthy associations able to wage successful campaigns.

The job descriptions, operations manuals and training are all key elements in supporting each association, but it’s also important to recognize that a 106-riding strategy has to be tailored to each of our associations. There are many differences between our associations. There’s the obvious difference between rural and urban ridings, but there are also ethnic, geographic and language differences. These differences have to be addressed to ensure we are meeting the needs of every association.

How will you ensure organization is a party priority in unheld and so-called “no-hope ridings” both during and before an election campaign?

First, I want to clearly state that I do not believe we have any “no hope ridings”. I want everyone to remember that at one point in Ontario’s history we have held every single seat. Every riding is winnable! Yes, it may be more difficult today than it’s been in the past, but that doesn’t mean that there is even one riding out there that isn’t winnable.

While I’m currently the president of a federal Liberal association, I was also once the president of the provincial Etobicoke Lakeshore association, and this was an unheld seat. I understand and remember very clearly how this feels, and I also believe it was the hard work of our members, all actively working very hard in their respective positions, that propelled us toward success.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. That’s the primary role of the V.P. Organization, and the V.P. Organization doesn’t do this alone. Luckily there is an entire Management Committee for LPC(O) that has been hard at work helping to prepare our ridings. And they are assisted by a very capable Executive Director and party staff workers. We are a team. This is the first most important thing to remember: Everyone is working hard, and working together, to ensure our overall success.

No executive member is going to be successful working alone, and they don’t work alone. We have a terrific team and I want to be a part of that team, adding my strengths to the effort.

As VP Organization I can assist this effort by ensuring everyone knows what their roles are. Definitions of roles, job descriptions, are important, but they are only the beginning. Manuals, or operations guides, must be provided. But even that is not enough. Yes, it is vitally important that people understand the positions and roles they assume. They must be clearly spelled out, and we must give them operations manuals, instructions, guides to follow. But there is still much more we can provide.

Training, which I like to think of a professional development, is one of the keys to success.
When we think of dentists and doctors, lawyers and accountants, we assume they know how to do their jobs. They are trained through education programs, and they have on the job experience, but they are also always participating in professional development.

The Liberal party must do the same thing.

I view training as a constant opportunity to be learning something new, hearing the ideas of others, and learning what has worked for other EDAs. Training elevates us all. Sharing our best practices makes us all stronger.

Training, and the development of our skills, is the way we build toward the future. A riding may currently be unheld, and we may not win that seat back in the next election, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t winnable. We have to build our base of support, and we do this on the strength of our associations and their members. Their hard work today will mean our success tomorrow.

We need the kinds of training courses and workshops that gives us all the specific tools and techniques we need to win the next election, and the election after that. Taking a step back, that means we need to develop the skills, at the riding association level, that support all of our most basic goals:

• Fundraising (For large and small events, for grassroots and big ticket events, for direct mail campaigns.)

• Outreach (To our communities: Multicultural, seniors, women, youth, veterans, disabled persons, religious communities, etc.)

• Membership Recruitment (Reaching all members of our community.)

• Volunteer Retention (Once we have new members we need to know how to engage them and develop their skills.)

• Policy (Policy can be used as a tool to engage the community, give people a voice, and recruit them to the Liberal party.)

• Communications (Internal – communicating with your association and volunteer base. External – communicating with your broader community.)

• EDA Management (Many riding presidents and their executive members are new to the party, or to their positions. Guidance and support would be appreciated by them.)

• Election Readiness (This should now be seen as part of our ongoing training.)

The training materials that work for one EDA may not apply to another. What works in a small community may not work in a large community; what works for an urban riding will not translate to a rural community. And even within large urban centres, there are differences from riding to riding.

Standard training materials need to be developed that can be applied to all our EDAs, and then tweaked to meet the specific needs of our communities. The training materials must be developed from “on the ground” expertise, and offer practical solutions that will strengthen our associations.

What are your top three priorities if elected?

1. Riding Association Management

We are very fortunate, in the Liberal party, to have many enthusiastic members who step forward to volunteer themselves for executive positions at the association level. Unfortunately, we haven’t always done the best job of educating these volunteers, and explaining to them what their specific positions entail, and how they can work at accomplishing the goals of their position.
Providing job descriptions and operations manuals for all key positions within the riding association will help to solve this challenge.

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s also important that we give our association members a sense of the bigger picture, organizationally speaking, within the Liberal party. We have some wonderful mechanisms within the party that many of our members are unfamiliar with, such as the Laurier Club, The Victory Fund and the Judy LaMarsh Fund. We also have a federated structure (national party, provincial wings, regional areas) within the party that can be better explained and understood. It’s important that our membership both understand and feel connected to all the elements of our party.

2. Training/Professional Development

Courses, workshops and seminars which will ensure all our volunteers are sharing best practices, have the most up-to-date skills and latest techniques, must be employed. I’ve written about this extensively as an answer to one of your other questions. I strongly believe that we must offer this support to all of our associations and members. We must ensure that they have the tools needed to succeed.

3. Membership Recruitment and Retention

At first glance this may seem similar to the training and professional development priority, so please allow me to explain the difference.

This is one of the areas where we need to offer training and professional development. I am singling this out as a priority because I believe it is one of the keys to our success.

It’s important that we have a strong and engaged membership base. The more members we have, the more successful we will be at all our other initiatives, such as outreach and fundraising. When we have members, we have the ability to go out into our communities and connect with the public. When we have members, we have the means to raise funds. And when we have members we have a strong volunteer base which can then be mobilized to work on an election campaign.

Members are the key to our success.

Recruiting members is only the first step. Once a member is recruited we cannot assume that they will simply remain a member. What keeps them with us? If they are not actively participating then will they remain interested in the Liberal party?

It is incumbent upon us, at the association level, to engage our members. Everyone has something to offer. It’s our responsibility to learn what their strengths are, find roles for them, and help them to become active members of our association teams. People who are engaged and contributing to our associations will become part of that association’s fabric.

How will you work to build a team and get new people involved that perhaps haven’t been involved in the party or in organizational roles in the past?

The first thing I must do (and I think any newly elected person ought to do) is assess what’s happened to date. Where are we in terms of job descriptions, operations manuals and guides, training and professional development? Where are we in terms of volunteers who have experience running meetings? Is there an organization committee? Do we have skilled party members who can assist with training in our various regions?

All of these issues must be assessed, and then prioritized, to ensure that we are addressing our greatest needs first. Ensuring our level of preparation is as high as possible, in the event an election is called, must be our first priority.

So assessment and prioritization are the first orders of business.

The next step is to recognize that nothing will be accomplished if I work alone. I will need assistance, from many people, and from across the province, in all of our six regions. The call will go out through the regions asking interested volunteers to come forward. Committees will be created which will address all of our priorities and help to administer the various tasks that must be accomplished.

As V.P. Organization I would be Chairing these committees, but I will want and need both help and input from many people. The more people who come forward to assist me, and our party, accomplish these goals, the stronger and better we will be.

At the association level, I’d like to see all riding associations meeting on a regular basis. Monthly meetings would be ideal. Again, this speaks to membership retention. When we’re in the middle of an election it’s easy to engage our volunteers. It’s when we’re between elections that we have to remember that engagement is necessary for membership retention. Monthly meetings and get-togethers bring our people together, encourage work on our initiatives, allows us to regularly discuss issues and collectively build our skills. Regular meetings will help to reinforce membership engagement and thus retention.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think your questions have been very thorough and I’ve done my best to give you equally thorough answers.

I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to express my views and intents, and I hope your readers like my approach to the position of V.P. Organization. If anyone would like to reach me to discuss any of this further, I encourage them to send me an e-mail at

And, I’d like to ask that if your readers are delegates at the upcoming LPC(O) AGM in Windsor that they vote for me! I am most sincere in my desire to make a difference, to strengthen our party from the ground up, and to work with all our associations, the Management Committee and the party office, to ensure this goal is accomplished.

But I can’t do this unless elected. Please vote for me: Jamie Maloney for V.P. Organization.

Again, many thanks to you for this opportunity, and to your blog’s followers for taking the time to read through my answers.

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1 comment:

Adrian Ludwin said...

Great work Jeff, thanks for doing this.