2015-02-22 13.50.06

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IMG_1430One of the highlights of this past month for me was the opening of a community office for our federal Liberal riding association. This venue will transition into a campaign office when a federal election is called later this year.

I love this space at 6306 Main Street, Stouffville. It has big, south-facing windows that bring in the warmth of the morning sun. One of my campaign volunteers suggested that the wall of windows is a metaphor for the political values of transparency and openness. That got me thinking about the other values that our community office should represent.

sarahpaintingThe first thing I noticed was the volunteer spirit that came alive in getting the office ready in the first part of February. Dozens of people pitched in to clean up, paint the walls and get things organized to run an office. I was stunned by people’s generosity and enthusiasm to be part of the team. It made me realize how much people want to contribute to democracy. They want to know that their knowledge, energy and talent can be put to use for the good of society. They want a safe space to ask questions, share ideas and debate about current events.

We had a great chance to use and enjoy the office last Sunday when we participated in a National Day of Action with the Liberal Party of Canada. Forty people came together to learn about our campaign and lend a few hours of their time to make phone calls and knock on doors.

2015-02-22 14.40.37That day the office felt like a microcosm of our community. There were people – young and old – from many neighbourhoods and different ethnic backgrounds – all gathering together as a united team. I was inspired by their participation and their desire to prepare for the upcoming campaign. We talked about the fact that the effort is about much more than winning an election; it’s about building a strong community and a fair Canada.

I hope that the atmosphere of our office will demonstrate the values of our campaign. Then the values of our campaign can demonstrate the kind of representation I would like to provide for our community. When I spoke to our volunteers last weekend, we talked about the way we’d like to work together. It’s our aim to conduct a campaign in which…

We look out for the interests of others;

We promote generosity and compassion;

We are thoughtful and reflective;

We match needs with resources;

We work as a team;

We reach across diversity to discover harmony;

We are loyal to one another;

We explore options and imagine solutions;

We take action and get things done.

In the months from now until the election, I hope hundreds of people will visit our community office. I hope hundreds of volunteers will join in the campaign. Our campaign in Markham-Stouffville is about making a dream come true – not my dream, but a collective dream – shared with friends, neighbours, colleagues and the Liberal Party of Canada. It’s a dream that, together, we can build a fair Canada. With our open office as a local base, and a team of enthusiastic volunteers, we’ll do what we can to make that a reality.

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