Liberals gathered in Ottawa over the weekend during their biennial policy convention. Photo by: Ingrid Ravary

Maritime Liberals have impact at Ottawa convention

Dal student elected financial VP of Young Liberals

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The Young Liberals of Canada made a splash at the party's convention this weekend and attendees say it was not just a smokescreen.

"The two most contentious and discussed policies were both brought forward by the Young Liberals. I want to build on that momentum," says Eric Pegolo, Dalhousie student and newly elected vice-president of finance for the national Young Liberals.

Over the weekend, Liberal delegates voted in favour of adopting the policy of legalizing marijuana, citing years of ineffectual enforcement. Even as the policy is adopted into the party, it is not guaranteed to be in the party's next election platform.

"I think that the marijuana policy is evidence-based, it is fact-based and 77 per cent of the delegates agreed with it," said Pegolo.

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Eric Pegolo was elected VP Finance of the Young Liberals of Canada during the convention.

The Young Liberals accounted for almost a third of the 3,200 delegates attending the Liberal's convention, held every two years in Ottawa.

Pegolo, a master's student in public administration, is the only new Young Liberal executive to have any serious ties east of Montreal.

Pegolo recognises the benefits of having a spread out executive. He plans to "work with campuses and ridings across the country."

Halifax West Liberal MP Geoff Regan says he left Ottawa "feeling very positive." Regan was impressed the 3,200 delegates still attended in the face of winter storms across Quebec and Ontario causing many flight disruptions.

The large turn out was a sign that the party is alive and well after the May 2nd election, pushing the Liberals out as official opposition and into third party status in the House of Commons.

Regan met Pegolo multiple times on the delegate floor as Pegolo campaigned. "He is a guy with a lot of dynamism and committed to work," said Regan. 

Regan is particularly pleased with the results for Pegolo, as well as Haligonian Chris MacInnes, who was elected vice-president English for the Liberal Party.

The representation Nova Scotia is getting in the party at an executive level could only benefit the party and the province, said Regan.

Referring to MacInnes' election, Regan said: "To have someone in that role from a relatively small province like this one is quite the accomplishment but that speaks well not only to the success of our team but to his quality as a candidate."

The biggest take-away point from the weekend is that the party is not dead and should not be written off, said Regan. Between the increased number of Young Liberals taking part and changing its leadership selection policies to allow non-members to vote, "It says to Nova Scotia, 'here is a party doing something totally different than no other party has done [in Canada]'... here is an opportunity if you want to take part," said Regan.

As for Pegolo, school remains the number one priority as he returned to class Monday morning trying to catch up on sleep after the convention.

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