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My Take: My Liberal Party is in trouble

My Take: My Liberal Party is in trouble

I have been been involved with the Federal Liberal Party since 1979. I volunteered or was involved in some fashion in 14 federal elections.  I also participated in most of the provincial elections since the mid 1980s.  I have held many positions in the party and many ridings, federally and provincially.

In the course of that volunteer activity, I have had the pleasure and honour of meeting and working with some of the most intelligent, dynamic and interesting people that have ever served in government. I am saddened at the fact that with the direction the Liberal party has taken, many of those people would have not been elected in today’s Liberal Party

As Liberals, we have lost our way. We are on the road to becoming irrelevant to Canadians if things don’t change ….NOW

Results are telling.  For the second election in a row, The Ontario Liberal Party has failed to achieve “party status”.  Federally, the Liberal party, although winning seats, have lost the popular vote for the 2nd election in a row and failed to secure a majority.

I had the pleasure of serving as Treasurer, Sign Chair and President of Hamilton East Stoney Creek for many years working with top candidates like Tony Valeri.  In my recent campaigning with my good friend, Jason Farr, an outstanding public servant, I noticed that many neighbourhoods that used to vote for Tony Valeri or Jennifer Mossop were now voting, in droves, for the Conservatives or the NDP.

We have to stop trying to “out-ndp” the NDP. We used to be the centrist party (a position where most  Canadians firmly sit).  This is now apparently a bad thing.  Being a centrist is not about not being able to make a decision.  It is listening to a multitude of ideas, not worrying if it’s “left or right”, and deciding on what’s best for Canadians.  It’s respecting everyone and listening.

The centrist vote is up for grabs and we Liberals are not prepared to take it.  If the federal Conservatives were ever to elect a leader who was a true centrist and popular in Ontario, we would be on a quick track to irrelevancy

We have to understand what’s important to people.  It’s not about conforming to some ideology or belief.  Canadians care about what’s important to them directly.  Health care, education, can my children buy a home, will I have a job, can I count on my government services, making sure all people are treated fairly and equally.

It is interesting to note that while the media screamed about the proposed 413 highway, all the ridings that will be directly affected voted PC. People voice outrage about sprawl, yet no one wants multi-unit, or in-law suite type of projects in their neighbourhoods, complaining about their views being “blocked” or the traffic congestion these housing units will cause. While we listen to so called experts discussing “sprawl’ and saving farmland, did we ever consult with farmers on the issue?  Apparently not. We rarely win the rural vote. Everyone wants more transit, yet car usage has never been higher, our roads have never been worse and transit ridership ever been lower. 

The Liberal party, and all Canadians for that matter; have to stop demonizing people who might not agree with us.  I had the honour last year of running as a candidate for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.  I had the opportunity to speak one on one, with him.  He is a caring, intelligent and thoughtful man.  It was the honour of my life having my name on the same campaign sign as his.  I have briefly met Premier Doug Ford.  I found him to be personable and sincere.  I don’t agree with everything both men believe in. (Be wary of anyone who believes wholeheartedly in everything a leader says.)  The abuse I saw hurled at the Prime Minister and especially his family last summer, was disgusting and horrendous.  It has no place in society, never mind politics.  But the condescending attitude people have towards Premier Ford is also disgusting.  Both men were put in an unbelievable and unenvious position since March 2020.  In my opinion, even though mistakes were made, Canada and Ontario handled COVID much better than most of the world.  Those criticizing both men should be asked “would you have done better and could you have handled it?”

Prime Minister Trudeau and Vito Sgro (c) campaigning in 2021

The Liberal Party needs to go back to what it once stood for.  We cherished our social programs, we realized that we had to pay for them so government spending and accountability were priorities. We loved immigration and immigrants, we believed all Canadians had the right to be respected and allowed to live the way they wish.  We must go back to that broad centrist approach and not worry about left or right.  We need to respect everyone and we shouldn’t have to worry about conspiracy theorists on the one side of the spectrum or being “cancelled” on the other side of the spectrum.

Vito Sgro is a Chartered Professional Accountant who has volunteered for the Federal and Provincial Liberals since high school, holding executive positions federally and provincially. He was the Liberal Candidate in Flamborough-Glanbrook in the 2021 election.

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