Kids with roller blades and bicycles are out on O’Brien Avenue. It seems that spring is finally taking hold in Stouffville, Ontario. We’re enjoying the double-digit temperatures, longer days and other signs of hope that arrive with spring in Canada.
Last Saturday, despite the beautiful weather in our neighbourhood, I spent most of the day indoors – first at a medical conference and then at the Liberal Party of Canada National Showcase at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. My sister, Karen, was following the action of the leadership showcase from Stratford via live-stream Internet and Twitter. At one point we had this friendly interaction that turned out to be the best metaphor of the day for me.
Karen wrote: “I look forward to a Liberal-led Canada like I look forward to sunshine at the end of a long, cold, dark winter.” Of all the words that have been written attempting to capture the mood in the Convention Centre last Saturday, this metaphor said it best. The mood was like what we experience in early spring when we can hardly wait to rid ourselves of the last vestiges of a hard winter. Every conversation I enjoyed that day was grounded in a feeling of optimism. There were undeniable signs of new life springing up in the newly rebuilt Liberal Party of Canada.
The mood of confidence was triggered in large part by the first-rate presentation by leadership front-runner Justin Trudeau. The words of his excellent speech gave cause to believe that Canadians may soon see the end of a long, dark winter. “Canadians want a positive alternative,” he said. “Our grounding principle will be equality of opportunity… We will be audacious and ambitious, because this country is greater than the sum of its parts.”
I have had the privilege of being part of Justin’s team in my local riding. I’ve been impressed by his positive message and the focus on rallying the support of ordinary Canadians across the country. The result has been that people who have never before participated in formal political activity are asking about how they can get involved.
There are still many skeptics across the political spectrum – those who fail to recognize the nearness of a Canadian spring. They criticize Justin Trudeau by noting that he has not imposed a fully formed policy platform. These naysayers fail to imagine that the very best kind of democratic leadership starts by listening to people. The potential for a new national leader who will listen and learn is a clear sign of political spring. I’m hearing Canadians who realize for the first time that they can and should speak up with their thoughtful ideas about the country they want to build – and there are political leaders who want to hear those ideas and put them into action.
There are countless Canadians like me – longing to see the end of this political winter of our discontent. We are weary with national leaders who try to instill fear instead of hope. We feel disillusioned and demoralized when it seems that our opinion is not heard nor understood. We feel embarrassed by decisions that have been made on behalf of our nation that make us look like we have no respect or concern for people and places beyond our borders.
I’m not naïve enough to think that spring will arrive simply by the power of positive thinking and a vivid imagination. I’m glad that Justin Trudeau gave his speech the title “Hope and Hard Work” - because both are certainly required. These key ingredients have driven the current rebuilding of the Liberal Party of Canada. Across the country, Canadians have fired up their imaginations and rolled up their sleeves. We believe in a better Canada and we will do the work to see it established.