They have learned from their mistakes and want a second chance.
That was the general message Liberal Party MPs expressed to members of the ethnic media at a multicultural roundtable last weekend in Toronto.
“W,w,w,” announced Scarborough-Agincourt MP Jim Karygiannis. “We’ve changed. We listened. We want you back.”
Liberal Party leader Bob Rae echoed Mr. Karygiannis’ remarks and went further, saying they have taken the ethnic communities in Canada for granted.
“I think that for a long time we assumed that because of our rich history and association and connection with the multicultural organizations and realities of the country, particularly in Ontario, that we could assume that life would continue in a positive way with respect to the support of those communities for our party,” said Mr. Rae.
“But I think it’s very clear to all of us that that is not in fact the case, that in every part of the country, people are assessing their choices and assessing their commitments and their engagements,” said Rae.
Ironically, some of the changes in immigration policy the Liberals are currently mulling are similar to the ones former leader Michael Ignatieff, who resigned after leading the party to third-place-status, promised at an ethnic media roundtable in Brampton last year.
Mr. Rae said two areas of immigration policy – recognizing foreign credentials and increasing permanent residency and family reunification grants – are where “we have great work to do to see change happen.”
Many at the roundtable, including Salam Toronto, were curious to know how the Liberals are planning to rise from the dead.
“We are going to be looking at a new platform, we are going to be looking at new policies, but based very much on Liberal principles,” Mr. Rae told Salam Toronto when asked if a new approach will be made towards the next election.
Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act, or Bill C-31, was a hot topic among questioners looking to gauge Rae’s stance on the bill aimed at restructuring Canada’s immigration system.
“(The Conservative government) is not bringing in the policies that people have been asking in this country for a generation,” said Rae. “And I think everyone needs to wake up to that.”
Mr. Rae, who is expected to resign his interim position to run for the party leadership in 2013, said the he is currently “building” towards the 2015 federal election and that “the party needs to commit itself right away to the principal that we will have open races, we will have open nominations…and we will allow those candidates to present themselves in open, democratic and transparent ways.”
While the Liberals rebuild, the Conservative majority is busy passing omnibus bills that are changing “the Canadian way,” as Mr. Rae put it.