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Over 200 people attended our Nomination Campaign Launch Party. I am grateful for the enthusiastic support of so many people. Here’s a copy of my speech from the event.

Jane Philpott Launch Speech – November 12, 2013

Thank you all for attending this evening. Thank you for helping me to mark the beginning of a new season in my career – my formal entry into the world of politics.

Honourable Carolyn Bennett with Jane Philpott

Honourable Carolyn Bennett with Jane Philpott

I attended a campaign school this summer. Carolyn Bennett was one of the speakers. One of her tips at that time was: “You’ve gotta have a posse!” I couldn’t agree more. As I look back on my life I think about how every significant journey has been launched with the help of some very important people. Happily, many of my personal VIPs are here tonight.

For starters, I’m delighted that my parents are here. They raised me in a home environment where opportunity and encouragement were in abundance. But they taught me that with privilege comes responsibility. I would not be here tonight without their guidance. They gave me the confidence to attempt almost anything – including traveling to Africa for the first time as a 22 year-old medical student to spend four months working in a remote hospital in western Kenya – an experience that would change the course of my life.

Pep and Jane Philpott with daughters, Bethany and Lydia.

Pep and Jane Philpott with daughters, Bethany and Lydia.

I’m thankful that my husband and children are here. Pep has been my steadfast companion through countless adventures in the last 27 years. Early in our marriage we moved to West Africa with our baby daughter to set up home in the country of Niger – a place we would call home for the next 9 years. The support of my husband and family has been essential to every big undertaking of my adult life.

Some “Give a Day” colleagues are here. We have worked together since 2004 when we started a campaign asking Canadians to give up one day’s pay on World AIDS Day and donate to an organization that would use that money to help people affected by HIV.

My dear friend Dr. Clare Pain is here. She played a key role in my life by introducing me to an amazing initiative in Ethiopia. Since 2008, I’ve worked with colleagues at Addis Ababa University to develop what would become the very first training program in Family Medicine in that country of 90 million people.

And of course, I see so many colleagues from Markham Stouffville Hospital and the Department of Family Medicine. You have shared with me the challenge of opening up the first Family Medicine Teaching Unit at our hospital – in affiliation with the University of Toronto. To date we’ve had 28 young physicians training full-time in our unit and more than 6000 people in our community have been connected to a new family doctor because of this program in the last three years.

When I look back at all the things we’ve done together, I’m reminded of how each of those undertakings seemed a little overwhelming at the outset. I must tell you that getting involved in politics may be my most daunting step yet. That’s why I’m glad you are all here to spur me on.

In fact, my greatest strength as I enter into this new territory is that I’m not doing this alone. You in this room – and hundreds more outside this room – are the ones who have and who will energize me, encourage me and enable me.

Tonight I am delighted to formally announce my objective to be nominated by the Liberal Party of Canada in the new riding of Markham-Stouffville.

Even with your support it’s a formidable road ahead. Many people have asked me why I would do such a thing. Why would I leave a job that is challenging, rewarding and well remunerated to enter politics? Why would I take this risk?

A clue can be found on the backdrop behind me. You will see a tagline on my campaign materials and on the website. I have embarked on a career in politics (1) for our community and (2) for our country.

I’m announcing my resolve tonight in front of friends, neighbours, mentors, colleagues and family members. I hope you will help me to stay true to this focus.

Here’s the dream:  I want to become a Member of Parliament for the singular purpose of improving people’s lives.

Some of the large team of volunteers who helped with the launch party.

Some of the large team of volunteers who helped with the launch party.

I became public about my political aspirations exactly two months ago by way of a blog post. The most heartening thing about those two months has been the way that so many people have stepped forward, eager to be involved. People who have never been involved in formal politics before now want to help out.

From one perspective this is a gloomy political season. It may be tempting to feel pessimistic, powerless and even apathetic about politics. But I assume you’ve come tonight because you want to be involved. You also want to improve people’s lives. So let’s do this together.

If my entry into politics accomplishes anything, I will not do it on my own. I need all of you – to understand our community and to impact our community and our country for good.

There is no shortage of good things we can do together. We live in a world with great need. This week we grieve with our community over an immense disaster in the Philippines. Several Filipino friends are here tonight. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families who are affected by this tragedy.

Meanwhile in York Region, there is other work to be done. For example – you may have noticed that tonight we are featuring the work of Yellow Brick House. I want to use this gathering to point out the work of a local community organization. November is “Woman Abuse Prevention Month” in the province of Ontario. In response to this need, I’m happy to highlight the great work of YBH – whose mission is to empower abused women and children to live violence-free lives. Please say hello to Marnie Sigmar and get some information about their work. I hope you will consider supporting YBH tonight or in the future.

There is no shortage of meaningful work – for our community, for our country. I’ve learned that getting big things done takes 3 steps: vision, ideas & determination. I’ve tried to use those 3 steps throughout my career – start with a vision of how people’s lives can be improved; dream up ideas about what can be done; then set to work to see those ideas come to life.

But I need your help to take this next step. In the next couple months I need to sign up hundreds of people who will support my nomination. The Liberal Party of Canada needs to know that I am the best person to be their candidate in our community. They will do so by having a formal nomination meeting in March or April of next year. But you can’t vote at that meeting unless you are a party member in this riding. You may have never considered joining a political party in your life. But if you live in the new riding of Markham-Stouffville I’m asking you to take a bold step, to sign up now. It will cost you $10. I believe it’s a worthwhile investment in our collective future.

Better yet, sign yourself up – and then help sign up 10 more people – your neighbours, friends, family and colleagues. Please speak to me or speak to a volunteer for more information. I’m dependent on your help now. You can count on my help as your envoy in the future.

The people of Markham-Stouffville need a Member of Parliament who will listen to them. They deserve to have a representative who understands what they are dealing with every day. They want someone who will speak for them in Ottawa. I am the person who can do that for you.

Beyond being your representative, I want to be your co-worker in this calling to improve people’s lives.

Next week marks the birthday of a great Canadian Prime Minister – Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He was driven by the kind of hope and determination that I espouse. Throughout his political career, Laurier described the forces that drove him. On a June evening in 1877, he stood before a packed hall in Quebec and said: “I am a Liberal. I am one of those who think that everywhere in human things; there are abuses to be reformed, new horizons to be opened up, and new forces to be developed.”

The same spirit of optimism drives me. I expect it motivates you too. In conclusion, following the spirit of Laurier, I offer my own call to action:

I acknowledge that abuses and conflicts surround us

Let us speak together, with conviction, to denounce injustice and promote peace.

I grieve about the unmet needs in our community

Let us act together, with generosity, to solve problems in practical ways.

I am sometimes fretful about our collective future

Let us resolve together, with courage, to make the choices that are necessary to improve people’s lives. 

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

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