Brad Lister describes himself as the “ultimate volunteer guy.”
When people started talking about getting the Liberal Party more involved with the queer community and starting a queer Liberal caucus, Lister says he was keen to take up the challenge.
“Sometimes people say this is a bad time to be a Liberal, and I think it’s a good time,” he says. “As I was looking around, a lot of my other gay friends had started lining themselves up politically with the NDP and kept saying, ‘Why are you still with the Liberals, Brad? You’re such a passionate guy, you should come over here and enjoy the Orange Crush.’”
Instead, Lister decided to reconnect Toronto’s gay community with the Liberal party and “maybe build into something bigger.”
After starting with a “friend-raiser” event in Toronto, he has begun working with other queer Liberals in the buildup to the party’s policy convention in Ottawa, which takes place from Jan 13 to 15. Riding associations like those in Toronto Centre distributed emails about the first event, and Lister said the response was really positive.
“This really nice couple, who I believe were members of the riding association there, came out, and just from talking to them, you could tell they were waiting for that email,” he says. “They were looking for that way in, and I’m really hearing that from a lot of people. I think there’s a lot of ‘lost Liberals’ out there who are looking for some good direction.”
Lister says queer Liberals he is meeting realize there is a lot of work to be done within the party, and they are looking for a place to coalesce. He hopes his group will fill this role.
He has also been in touch with several of the candidates vying for party president. He says they have been supportive of his idea to reach out to Canada’s queer community.
Lister hopes getting people out to events will have the benefit of funnelling them back to their local riding associations. Several Toronto riding associations are supportive of the group.
“I’m starting to build that network of connections; whereas people start to connect to a Toronto queer caucus, we can start to funnel them back to the riding associations and get them involved into more of a service club model,” he says. “I’m really hearing that a lot from people, that they want to do something.”