Share Your Stories Profile: Phil Baldwin

December 21, 2012

We launched the Share Your Stories campaign just over a week ago and have received many great submissions to date. One of the first ones that stood out for us was one from Phil Baldwin, a 28 year-old Liberal volunteer who lives in Consecon, Ontario.

What touched us most about his Justin story is how he described people’s reactions to the mention of Justin’s name. In Phil’s words:

“What excites me most when the topic of Justin comes up is that the vast majority of the people absolutely light up in a huge smile.”

We were so thrilled to hear this story from Phil that we wanted to sit down and find out how he got involved in volunteering with the Liberals as well as hearing more about Phil himself. Here is the full interview:

Justin Trudeau and Phil Baldwin

Q: Nice to meet you, Phil! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? What do you do when you aren’t working for the Liberals?

Phil: I grew up on the family horse farm in Consecon, Ontario, and was drawn to Liberal Party values from a young age. I can even remember that my grade six book report was on the autobiography of Pierre Trudeau. I’m proud of the 40 year work that my family has done in my community, through Bayfield Treatment Centres, for kids experiencing difficulties. It’s Liberal values in action, and my family connection there has helped make me the person I am today.

After I finished my B.A. and M.A. in history at Queen’s in Kingston, I headed over to England to write my Ph.D. on the Crusades, since I was fascinated by this part of history, and thought it was important that more work be done to understand it. I met people from all over the world in London: from Egypt to Brazil, Pakistan to Iraq, Russia to China, and so many other places. I love the fact that you can find people from all over the world in Canada. We’re all the richer for it.

While abroad, I was happy to see that Canadians are still well-loved, but some people I met were beginning to wonder about the change happening to Canada, and asked me to explain it to them. I hadn’t voted for the Conservative government that caused that, but I realised that that still wasn’t enough. I finished my studies this year, and happily returned to Canada, determined to do my small part to help set things right. Volunteering with the Liberals has been a great way of doing that. Since getting back to Canada, I’ve been looking for full-time work, but haven’t been able to find it yet. I’ve taken the part-time work I can find to stay active, but as a young person, it’s hard to be optimistic right now.  Tory times are tough times, as they say.

Q: Tell me how you got started doing supporter recruitment for the Liberals?

Phil: I started doing supporter recruitment because I really believe in this new idea that came out of the Liberal policy convention in 2012 to open up the leadership vote to non-members. If the Liberals truly want to rebuild, this is the best way to do it, because it gets in touch with the grassroots in a way that is crucial to democracy. Our next leader must be someone that the people themselves offer up as their representative. People don’t like to be told who they “should” like. They can decide for themselves, and with the new supporter movement, they will!

Q: Can you retell the story you told us about how people react to Justin when he comes up in conversation?

Phil: As part of the supporter recruitment that I’ve been doing with the Prince Edward-Hastings Liberals, I’ve been knocking on doors and talking to a lot of people lately. What excites me most when the topic of Justin comes up is that the vast majority of the people absolutely light up in a huge smile. They really are excited about him! He has the potential to reignite trust in politics again, and that cannot be taken lightly by anyone, because we need to reengage people. What is most encouraging is that I’ve talked to a lot of people who haven’t voted in years, but who are now excited about seeing Justin run for leadership. They trust him and what he stands for, and it will get them out voting again. This is really important with the negative political atmosphere we’ve had these last 7 years.

Q: Do you have any new years resolutions? If so, what are they?

Phil: As a Liberal, my New Year’s resolution is to keep involved in my community to put my Liberal values into action, because I believe that the support of Canadians must be earned and re-earned every day. It should never be taken for granted.

Q: Do you have anything else to add?

Phil: I’ll just add that I’ve had the chance to meet all of the declared leadership candidates now, and I like them all! I have no interest in factionalising the Liberal Party. I’ll be a very proud Liberal if Justin is able to secure the leadership in April, and I want to volunteer to help Justin in his campaign. I really believe in him. But in a contest of all Liberals, what’s a Liberal to do? So I have also offered to help out on Deborah Coyne’s campaign. I nice to see that when the Liberals form a government in 2015, we’ll have such a strong and united team in place!