Sir Wilfred Laurier, one of Canada's greatest leaders once proclaimed, “I am a liberal. I am one of those who think that everywhere in human beings, there are abuses to be reformed, new horizons to be opened up, and new forces to be developed.”
Laurier's spirit of quest and discovery, which he defined so well in 1877, should animate us still. Progressives believe in expanding opportunity and choice, but in every age, problems and situations change and therefore there are new challenges to be overcome, new priorities to be addressed, and new wrongs to right.
To that end, as we start a new century a group of concerned Canadians have come together with an overwhelming desire to inject new ideas into a tired political landscape. The “Ginger Group” of new liberals met in Toronto, September 27-29, 2002 to discuss Canada's future agenda. Some were well known, such as Tom Kent or John Polanyi, but many were just starting their careers. Some had long associations with a political party; many came from the not-for-profit community. A few were old hands; most were new hands.
Out of this gathering came a clear consensus that the Canadian party and policy process had to be opened up: whatever particular policies delegates favoured there was unanimity that Canada's political process had to be reformed.
Beyond the initial meeting in Toronto, the group hopes to arrange similar meetings in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver. With the help of volunteers from Seneca College in Toronto, our website will be expanded and become more interactive. A book will be published based on the papers at the Toronto conference; other publications will emerge from the follow-up meetings. Most importantly, we hope a network of policy oriented new liberals will build a virtual think tank of progressive thinking.
As former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said, “open up the windows, we are asphyxiating.”