Where We Stand: an armchair discussion with Canada’s national party presidents11:30am-1:30pm | The Fairmont Château Laurier - 1 Rideau Street, Ottawa
As Canadians prepare for the upcoming federal election, there will be considerable public focus on each major political party’s vision for Canada. Through the perspectives of each party’s national president, this discussion panel will seek to explore the principle foundations of each party, their vision for Canada’s future, and why they are the party to believe in moving closer to Election 2015.
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Liberal Party of Canada
Anna was elected President of the Liberal Party of Canada in February, 2014. She campaigned primarily on preparing the Liberal Party for the next election by empowering its grassroots, focusing on volunteers and developing a digital culture within the organization. In addition to being an active member of the Liberal Party for over 15 years, Anna has also worked as a special assistant to Minister John McCallum and as NATO policy advisor to Minister Bill Graham.
Ms. Gainey has long advocated for a grassroots approach to rebuilding the Liberal Party, supported by long term investments in fundraising and Party infrastructure. As president of the Westmount--Ville-Marie Riding Association in Montreal, both membership and fundraising grew under her leadership. As President, the membership of the Party has more than doubled and there has been an increase of more than 25% in total revenue in 2014.
Anna also has a solid track record of electoral success – from shaping campaign strategy to getting out the vote. She has been a key team member on many winning campaigns, including Marc Garneau’s elections in 2008 and 2011, and also served as a senior advisor to Justin Trudeau’s leadership campaign. Her years of experience working for the Party as both a staffer and a volunteer have given her an in-depth understanding of the Party’s strengths and potential, and her experience working on successful campaigns has provided valuable insights on what it takes to win.
Outside of her work with the Party, Ms. Gainey is the Executive Director of the Gainey Foundation, which provides funding for environmental and arts education programs for youth. She and her family created the foundation in 2007 following the tragic death of her sister Laura. Under her leadership, the foundation raised nearly $2 million in two years through cross-Canada events and grassroots fundraising campaigns.
Anna holds a BA in Political Science and Middle East Studies from McGill University, and a MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
She and her husband Tom Pitfield live in Montreal with their three young children, Jackson, Ryan and Audrey.
Green Party of Canada
Dave Bagler is the interim president of the Green Party of Canada. He was a provincial candidate for the Green Party of Ontario in Ottawa–Vanier in both the 2011 and 2014 provincial elections. Dave has held many leadership roles within the federal and provincial Green Parties during the past nine years. He has been the provincial policy critic for Community & Social Services and Economic Development & Innovation, and was a member of early Young Greens executives. He now helps train local campaign teams. In 2009 Dave was recognized as a Sandy Hill Volunteer of the Year for the food drive he started in the Ottawa neighbourhood. Dave owns a web development company (Bagler IT) and has worked with a variety of businesses and civic sector organizations.
Ottawa Bureau Chief
The Canadian Press
Heather Scoffield is the bureau chief for The Canadian Press in Ottawa. She leads an award-winning newsroom of 18 people who regularly break news and dominate national coverage of federal politics. Heather started out covering fires, police and the school board at a small regional paper, moving on to The Canadian Press as a general assignment reporter. She spent a few years covering markets, economics and politics at Reuters before joining The Globe and Mail. Over 12 years, Heather wrote extensively for the newspaper and website about global financial crises, fiscal and monetary policy, and politics of all kinds.
She then joined The Canadian Press to cover social policy, environmental policy and federal politics, focusing on the fall-out of the 2008 financial crisis. Heather has won five National Newspaper Awards, including one in 2014 for the bureau’s work in covering the Oct. 22 shooting on Parliament Hill.
She has a Masters in journalism from the University of Western Ontario and a BA in international relations from York University. She lives in Chelsea, Que., with her husband and two children.
Conservative Party of Canada
John Walsh is President of the Conservative Party of Canada, a grassroots Conservative volunteer and public policy participant. Raised in Brantford, Ontario, John now lives in the Don Valley West riding in Toronto with his wife Jillian and three boys Duncan, Liam and Finnian.
After attending high school in Brantford, John went on to graduate from Roberts Wesleyan College (BA in History & Philosophy), Rochester NY, Carleton University (MA in Political Science & International Relations) and Osgoode Hall Law School (LLB).
Since the 1980s, John has worked in numerous capacities for the Conservative Party of Canada and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario both as a campaign volunteer and as a full-time political staffer. He has held several senior political positions in Ottawa and Queens Park for the Minister of National Defence, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.
Professionally, John is Managing Director and General Counsel at a large Canadian Pension Fund. Previously, he practiced corporate law for 10 years at two of Canada’s leading law firms.
President & Quebec Campaign Director
New Democratic Party of Canada
Rebecca Blaikie is the President and Quebec Campaign Director for Canada’s New Democrats. Rebecca was born in Winnipeg, where she worked in community development, Aboriginal education, and for the Government of Manitoba. In 2007, she helped elect Tom Mulcair in a historic by-election that paved the way for the NDP’s Quebec breakthrough and rise to Official Opposition. She has been invited around the world to speak about social democracy and community organizing, including in the UK, South Africa, and the United States.