The UTM Young Liberals hosted an educational political event in the Davis Building for students and club members interested in learning more about Canadian politics.

The event, entitled “What is politics?”, commenced at 7:30 p.m. last Monday. It featured two guests: Tasha Ismail, the senior manager of political operations for the Liberal Party of Ontario, and Omar Alghabra, a former Liberal MP.

Although structured predominantly as an introductory guide to Canadian politics, the event was also an opportunity for the 30 students to participate and answer questions on a range of topics.

The major topic of the presentation was the importance of student civic engagement, which each speaker addressed.

“Politics is not a television show—it happens whether you’re engaged or not,” said Alghabra. “Start with issues you care about […] get involved and find parties and ideas that resonate with you.”

Ismail shared the sentiment. “You can’t complain if you don’t vote,” he said.

Alghabra spoke throughout the majority of the presentation and answered questions on a variety of hot-button issues.

“It’s the most expensive election in democracy’s history: around $2.3 billion spent,” said Alghabra on the budget for the recent American election. By contrast, Canada has a $20-million campaign contribution limit.

The concept of Canadian party leadership became an integral part of the discussion, and naturally raised questions on the current Liberal leadership race. Alghabra said that he is a senior strategist and supporter of Justin Trudeau’s bid for the Liberal leadership, and said, “I’m excited about Justin’s candidacy. Trudeau can help unite Quebec with Canada.”

Ismail spoke about the operational management of politics from a Liberal point of view. She offered her thoughts on the Liberal election results in 2011: “We lost our way and we need more concrete policies.”

Ismail also chronicled her story as a young campaign worker rising through the ranks from volunteer to paid staffer.