Humanization. Understanding. Grabbing a pint, connecting as people, not functionaries.
That was the whole purpose behind Brownell Night.
When MPP Jim Brownell retired and chose not to run in the 2011 election, I got a lovely signed picture of Jim and Premier McGuinty, who attended the last Brownell Night, together with the intent of giving it to the Duke of York as a commemorative piece. At the same time, I went around to a number of Liberal MPPs and asked if any of them would be willing to host, co-host or rotate hosting duties around an institutionalized Brownell Night - an ongoing, once-a-month opportunity for Provincial Liberals, friends and event political opponents to get together and just socialize.
There were a couple of folk who expressed interest but, when it came to actually committing, faded into the woodwork. More than a couple expressed concern that being associated with a bar night would harm their chances of Cabinet Posts down the road.
So it never happened. I went on to join the Why Should I Care team and continue to support community and engagement at the Duke in a different capacity.
If there had been an internal community and engagement between the ranks within the OLP from 2011 on, would that have changed any of the shorter-sighted decisions that got made? Probably not, but I wonder.
When it's really about supporting the community - moving forward together, as it were - it's hard to focus on choosing who to leave behind, isn't it?
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