Thursday, February 06, 2014

LPC national board candidate interview: Arif Khan for national membership secretary

From February 20-23, federal Liberals will gather in Montreal, and one of their tasks will be to elect a new national executive. In the coming days, I’ll be publishing interviews with some of the candidates seeking election to the party’s national board.

With Matthew Certosimo deciding to not seek election as Liberal Party of Canada national membership secretary, two candidates have stepped forward to contest the position – Leanne Bourassa from Quebec and Arif Khan from Alberta. While Certosimo’s term was focused on a leadership election and the creation of the supporter category, either Bourassa or Khan will face new challenges, from nomination meetings to driving further engagement by both members and supporters.

I recently spoke with Arif Khan about his experience in the party, how he sees the role and some of his ideas for moving the party forward. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

How would you describe the role of national membership secretary?

It’s to be the voice of the members at the national board and to make sure we as a party are creating value for members. Bringing the members and supporters into the party and engaging them in the party. The ultimate responsibility of the national membership secretary is to oversee and grow the membership of the party.

Why do you want the job?

I think it’s important for our party to develop the supporter list part of the party. The great promise of the supporter category is to allow people to test the party by becoming a supporter and voting for the leader. Now it’s time to engage those supporters and move them up the engagement ladder by encouraging them to become members, donors and volunteers.

With my broad political experience and varied volunteer experience sitting on various boards, including a hospital board, a school board, a juvenile diabetes research board and Rotary, I think I can add some value to the process and help position the party for the 2015 election.

What has been your experience in the party?

I served on the federal election readiness committee for Northern Alberta alongside Anne McLellan and Senator Grant Mitchell. I was also a candidate in the last provincial election for the Alberta Liberal Party. I’m currently riding president for Edmonton-Spruce Grove, and co-chair for the Laurier Club in Edmonton. I was also the chair for Justin Trudeau’s leadership campaign in Northern Alberta.

What are the top priorities you’d like to tackle should you be elected?

I have an extensive plan laid out on my web site which is coming out (today).

Being membership secretary is about going out and engaging with supporters and members of the party in every corner of the country. We now probably have the best prospect list the party has ever had to grow the party. I plan on building a program in conjunction with the national membership working group, developing that program and implementing it.

We need to start engaging members and recognizing the value that members bring. We’ve had a recognition program for long-time donors; I want one for members where members of five, 10 and 20 years are recognized.

For new members, I want to develop a program to ensure there is contact from the party within two weeks with every new member. I want people to know how to get active.

Ultimately, I want to bring value to being a member. I want communications to be timely, informative and not excessive. I tend to see a lot of e-mails coming through and I think many people just don’t read them.

I’ve already heard some great ideas from members on how to get more value from membership, including regional hard copy newsletters, members-only time with the leader, and building a comprehensive guide on how to become active in the party. These are all great ideas, but I want to hear more. I’ll be conducting a survey with all party members to see what they want, and I’ll share that information with members, and with the national membership working group, and we’ll implement the ideas as we get ready for the next election.

(Other party office interviews)

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