Moving our party towards true inclusiveness
In 1999, I needed a change and moved to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. It was the best decision I ever made. I found a welcoming community of people that became my dear friends and family. I was always political before, but in Yellowknife I entered a new landscape and had discovered I had much to learn.
I did not realize how isolating it would be to be so removed from my political family. I also did not realize how much we can overlook challenges felt by others without meaning to.
NWT is a beautiful place. It is the second largest riding in Canada. The riding is made up of a diverse group of 33 communities; some are accessible only by winter roads, others only by air. It is impossible to walk my riding and therefore I cannot knock on all the doors. Mail services are slow, internet is expensive, and cell service is sparse.
Becoming part of a Provincial and Territorial Board (PTB) in such a huge riding had challenges, ones I would have never considered growing up in Winnipeg.
What I learned pushed me to advocate for the removal of membership fees. I stood up at the convention in Winnipeg and called out our privilege. In 2015, we had founded a network of some of the most dedicated volunteers, but they weren’t all members. I could not give them party resources to help with GOTV. They were Liberals without the ability to pay. $10 is a lot of money to people who struggle with food security. It is something I was unwilling to ask for. I already had their commitment to the party, our candidate and our leader. They shared our messages and helped GOTV with no party tools. They were paramount in delivering the most decisive win for any party ever in the history of NWT.
Now it was my turn to speak for them, the silent Liberals.
We voted to end membership fees, as well as end delegated conventions, making conventions open to all who want to attend. I was ecstatic; this was an amazing leap forward.
However, we still need to do better. It continues to be very much a point of privilege to be able to afford to attend a convention. Even one open to all Registered Liberals and with lowest fees in decades. I am so fortunate to be able to afford the time and money to have my voice be heard and my vote to be counted. I am also very aware of how vastly Registered Liberals who cannot afford these things are forced into silence.
In 2017, our PTB had the first ever online vote for our board, following a model spearheaded by the Gwitch’in Tribal Council election in 2016. We plead a strong case to the National Board for approval. Our election was a success and for the first time ever allowed all our membership to vote. All Registered Liberals in NWT could be equal. This was the equality that I knew my party had in its bones.
As I stand putting my name forward for Party Secretary, I am making a commitment to you all. I will champion equality for all Registered Liberals. Every single Registered Liberal deserves a voice. All of us.
You have all been amazing and are needed members of our cause and movement.
I will continue to work towards implementation of online participation and voting for all party conventions, EDAs and PTBs, for both electing your leadership and developing our policies.
We have made great strides as a party with allowing our leader to be elected by the people. We need to build on that progress and truly become the most inclusive political movement in Canadian history.