On Oct. 19, the Hamilton Young Liberals hosted a leadership conference at McMaster. The aim of the day, said HYL president Waleed Aslam, was “to leave here inspired, to get involved, [and] to make a difference.”
The event, which took place in Convocation Hall, welcomed a collection of guests, opening with a series of Liberal candidates for MPP based in the Hamilton area.
Ivan Luksic, one such candidate for the riding of Hamilton East/Stoney Creek, and a Mac alumnus, suggested that students consider leadership from a different perspective.
“When I look at leaders, I don’t look at those who inspired humanity in history,” he explained. “I look at the more personal ones—my parents.”
One of the featured invitees of the afternoon was Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina. He spoke of the importance of getting involved in the political process, citing his own change of career as an example.
“What I found of 45 years in broadcasting was that I had so many things I was interested in, so many ideals…and for the most part, nothing really happened until you get into the political sphere,” he explained.
“So no matter the ideals, the concrete projects we might have in mind…nothing gets done without the political process.”
Before becoming mayor of the city in 2010, Bratina had a career as a radio broadcaster, hosting talk shows and acting as a commentator in sports. He initially became involved in politics as a city councillor representing Ward 2 in 2004.
Premier Kathleen Wynne served as the keynote speaker for the event, arriving late to Convocation Hall after having presented at the Leadership Summit for Women, also on campus on Saturday afternoon.
While the two-hour event was themed around leadership, Wynne took a more partisan angle, offering justification for the Liberal government’s economic strategies.
“[I want to talk] about how we’re going to be building Ontario up, because I think that’s a distinguishing characteristic between us and what’s happening on the other side of the floor,” she told the audience. “[Their strategy] is to some extent tearing Ontario down, talking about what can’t happen as opposed to what can.”
Wynne also echoed the appreciation of the previous speakers for the already-committed Hamilton Young Liberals in the room, in a move that was likely welcomed by the group but may have felt alienating to other audience members, who included a variety of students and community members.
“You’re also critical to the way we think about our policies,” she said.
“I want you to understand that the ideas you put forward are things we want to act on, we need to act on,” she explained, citing the province’s 30 per cent tuition rebate as an example.
“I know the Young Liberals have been hugely important in all our campaigns and will continue to be,” she said, later joking, “We don’t want you just because your joints are good.”