Wednesday, February 05, 2014

LPC national board candidate interview: Leanne Bourassa 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 Leanne Bourassa about her experience in the party, how she sees the role and some of her 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?

There’s a couple of different aspects to it. First and foremost, it’s about making sure the members have the best experience they can have in the party, so they stay engaged and they want to be a part of improving the country through the political process. From a very personal place, where I start from is I’ve had a very good experience in the party. I’ve been able to do things I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise in my career, develop new skills, and meet so many people. I want others to have that experience.

The role is also administrative, making sure the membership list is up to date and managed properly, and assisting on the management side of the party.

Why do you want the job?

I think it would be a great challenge. In my personal experience in the Liberal Party, I’ve given a lot of time and energy and this is a just a continuation of what I’ve done in the past. I’ve had a great experience in the Liberal Party and I’d like all the other members to have that experience too, to be part of what we’re building and help build the party for the long-term. We’ve got a great leader, great people want to run for us, and if our members are engaged, trained and committed that success will be assured. I want to make sure we’re ready for the long-term. I’ve been fairly involved provincially and I would like to expand my ability to help.

What has been your experience in the party?

I started as a member when I was in Calgary, home for the summer from university. If I wanted to see my parents I had to go to the campaign office. That was a great experience, and when I moved to Montreal I got involved in my first campaign, in Westmount-Ville Marie in 2000 for Lucienne Robillard. I’ve been on the Westmount board in various capacities and I (was most recently) financial agent. With the PTA (provincial or territorial association) I’ve been vice-president for West Quebec and I’m currently on the legal commission for the LPC(Q) , which has been incredible. I’m very proud of the team we’ve built and what we’ve been doing around EDA founding meetings, making sure the organizations have been getting off on the right foot. And I’ve been very involved with the women’s commission.

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

My three themes for the campaign are communicate, motivate and celebrate.

Under communicate, I want to make sure all the lists and all our administrative resources are up to date with nomination meetings coming up. These list are really important. I’ve seen in founding meetings where, if those lists aren’t accurate people are denied their ability to participate fully. I want to make it easier for people to have access to information. Our web site needs to be easier to use -- a membership one-stop shop.

Under motivate, I want members to have access to mentors. I’ve been noticing a generational shift in the party. I don’t want to lose some of the experience the veteran members have, and I know they’d be willing to pass it on to younger members. We also used to have a membership committee. I’d like to facilitate that, and ensure EDAs have membership secretaries on their riding executives so we can have communication up to the board from the ridings.

And under celebrate, I want to make sure members doing great things can get the recognition they deserve. Some members don’t have money to give, but they do have time. I’d like to find ways to recognize that with money off biennial, access to the Laurier lounge, and so on. We need to fund wants to recognize members that are doing great things. I really believe the commissions and the groups that have initiative should be supported. They know the best way to talk to people, and we should let them take the initiative, and not tell them what to do.

(Other party office interviews)

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