Former Huron-Bruce Federal Liberal candidate to head up task force on rural outreach
January 15, 2016
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Former Huron-Bruce federal Liberal candidate Allan Thompson has been asked by the federal Liberal party to set up and chair a task force to be called “Project Rural” to begin a major program of research and outreach in rural ridings.
The full details of the task force’s composition and mandate are still being finalized, but work will begin almost immediately. The task force will be established under the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) and will begin its work in rural ridings across the province.
At the outset, the goal of “Project Rural” is to design a program of outreach in federal ridings across Ontario that are predominantly rural. A first step will be to consult with former Liberal candidates, their campaign teams and electoral district associations from ridings with a significant rural presence.
But equally important, the task force will engage directly with communities in ridings that are predominantly rural or have a significant rural presence. Project Rural will also conduct research into key rural issues and will tap into existing work on rural issues and concerns.
Project Rural recognizes the need for the federal Liberal party to engage directly on key issues that resonate with rural voters, to establish best practices for campaigning in a rural context and to begin the process now of devising a rural campaign strategy and platform planks for 2019.
“We must be regarded as a party and government that has something to say to rural voters. And having something to say starts with listening,” said Thompson. “I think the federal Liberal party can work harder to connect with people who live in rural communities.”
As the Liberal candidate in Huron-Bruce in last year’s election, Thompson ran on a theme of providing a strong rural voice. He and his supporters moved the Liberal party from a distant third in 2011 to a very competitive second-place finish in the October 19th election. And Thompson’s experience mirrored that of many other candidates in ridings with a significant rural component.
Alongside MP Kim Rudd (Northumberland-Peterborough South), Thompson was asked to lead a panel on “the rural campaign” at the LPC(O) Executive Board meeting held in Ottawa in early December. To prepare for that session, he was in touch with candidates in a number of predominantly rural ridings and conducted an informal survey about lessons learned from the 2015 campaign. A central finding of that survey was that there is a need to start now re-connecting with rural candidates and their communities and to build a major program of outreach in rural ridings.
Thompson was born and raised on a farm in Bruce county and is now ajournalism professor at Carleton University. Based on his experience as a candidate, he took the initiative to propose to the Liberal party that it set up the Project Rural task force. Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) President Tyler Banham has formally tasked Thompson with establishing and chairing the initiative.
Allan Thompson with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during 2015 campaign
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