Local Liberals feel optimistic

Okanagan-Shuswap Liberals are upbeat about the future of the party.

Okanagan-Shuswap Liberals are upbeat about the future of the party.

Seven local delegates were among 3,000 people who attended the federal party’s convention in Ottawa last weekend.

“The health of the party is excellent. There is so much energy,” said Janna Francis, riding association president.

The party is currently focused on renewal after last spring’s federal election, which saw the Liberals lose official opposition status and place third.

“There is a lot of hope and determination,” said Francis.

“We are alive and well and determined that Canadians can get more actively involved in the democratic process.”

Among the motions approved by delegates is to open up the party to supporters even if they don’t take out Liberal membership cards.

“It places an onus on the party to connect with people and make people aware of what the party is all about,” said Francis.

“They will have an opportunity to select the next leader.”

Other issues that were tackled included health care, the environment and preferential balloting.

Much of the media attention, though, was on the delegates’ support for the legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana.

“It says to Canadians that we know what’s going on in the country and we want to deal with it openly,” said Francis, adding that polls frequently indicate a majority of Canadians want marijuana decriminalized.

“I have talked to people in this riding, including staunch Conservatives, and they say the same thing.”

There was also media speculation during the convention that interim Liberal leader Bob Rae may seek the position permanently.

“He is providing such excellent leadership. If that was a decision he made, there would be a lot of people willing to support him,” said Francis.

To bolster the party’s profile locally, Montreal MP Justin Trudeau will be in Vernon Saturday.

“He represents the youthfulness of our party,” said Francis.

“He’s worth meeting and connecting with.”

Trudeau will attend a public luncheon at Okanagan College, with the topic focused on what the future holds for youth in Canada.

The public is welcome to arrive at 11:30 a.m., with the event running from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. To attend, RSVP in advance to osfla@shaw.ca.