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“5 Questions” Interview(s) With Ontario Liberal Party Candidates: Alvin Tedjo

Alvin Tedjo is the 2nd of the Ontario Liberal Leadership candidates to turn in his answers to my “5 Questions” series. You can find his website here. His answers are again unedited by me and presented in their original format below.

1) There are many candidates running to be the next Ontario Liberal Party leader. What would you say to delegates looking for reasons to vote for you / elect you as leader?

I’m focused on the future. I’m 36 – 20 years younger than Doug Ford – and I think it’s time for someone from my generation to step up. For the next few elections, adults under 40 are going to be the biggest voting block in the country: I’m trying to speak to those voters. They’re concerned about climate change, about affordable childcare, and how they fit in an economy increasingly affected by automation and AI. My vision is focused on progressive pragmatism. It’s about recognising the big challenges that we’re facing, and putting big ideas on the table that’ll help us face them. I think Ontarians want that kind of leadership.

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2) As you know, the OLP recently had a vote on whether to change electing the leader of the party from the current delegated convention to “One Member One Vote”. Though that measure failed to reach the 2/3 vote measure to pass, it still had majority support,  which would seem to suggest among OLP members there is a strong desire to modernize the OLP. If you accept that premise, (and regardless of whether you supported OMOV or not), how would you, as Ontario Liberal Party leader, modernize the party so it becomes a more inclusive party to its members, as well as building and supporting a strong grassroots organization across the province?

I agree – the OLP has to modernize. I supported the One Member One Vote movement, and I sponsored a constitutional amendment for free party memberships, just like the Liberal Party of Canada has. Both of these amendments received majority support, and that’s a powerful signal that I don’t think the party can ignore. I still believe in those changes, and I think we’ll need to revisit them after the leadership campaign is over. There’s also more to do on membership engagement, fundraising strategy, data and policy development, but I’m glad that the conversation has started and that there’s an appetite for it to continue. 

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3) Is there anything the OLP can do to bridge the gap that is the rural/urban divide on Ontario with voting preferences? Specifically,  what is your vision and plan for rebuilding the party outside of the GTHA and Ottawa regions given our party’s lengthy history of strong representation from Rural and Northern Ontario?

Over time, we lost touch with a lot of voters, especially in rural and Northern Ontario. They didn’t see themselves or their issues reflected in the government’s priorities. The 2018 election was a powerful reminder of that and we need to take it to heart. There is a huge opportunity for us now to look at how bold, progressive ideas can improve people’s lives all across the province. For example, I’ve heard a lot from rural Ontarians about how merging our Catholic and public school boards would mean their kids spend less time on the bus every day, and how universal child care would help parents keep up with their bills and stay out of debt. I want to keep that dialogue open and keep putting big ideas on the table that are going to make a difference for people in Ontario.

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4) Do you currently have any general or specific policy solutions you’d like to see included in the next election platform  to try and draw Ontarians back to the party and vote for the OLP?

Absolutely! So far, I’ve announced three big policy proposals: a program for universal childcare, a universal basic income for Ontario, and a plan to merge our Catholic and non-Catholic school boards. The first two proposals are designed to build a stronger provincial economy, ready to face 21st century challenges. The latter will generate massive savings that I would re-invest into the classroom. We also need to have a serious plan to fight climate change, and I hope to put some ideas about that on the table before this campaign is over. These will all be critical following four years of neglect and bungling from the Ford Conservative government. In order to win in 2022, we need to have a vision and a plan to present to Ontarians. Being “not Doug” isn’t going to be good enough, so I’m hopeful that this race will get the conversation about our next platform off to a strong start.

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5) As you know, the  OLP is currently a small 3rd party w/o official party status in the Ontario legislature – with that comes resource and staffing challenges.  With that in mind, if you are elected leader, how do you plan to oppose Doug Ford inside and outside the legislature to try and overcome this?

We know that Ontarians are already tired of Doug Ford and his Conservatives. Polls in September had their popularity at 26%. Almost two years into their mandate, people are eager for change. But that doesn’t mean success will come easy for us. We need to present a real alternative – a vision and a plan that people can get behind and see themselves in. Our movement has already attracted people from all across the province who are eager to make a difference, and if we keep up the energy and the hard work, and if we’re not afraid to stand behind big ideas, we can win the 2022 election.

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