Val Litwin for BC Liberal Party Leader

What to do when someone says “government stinks”

We aren’t just in budgetary deficit in BC – we’re in social deficit. We need new tools and ideas to address these problems. It’s time to start talking seriously about social capital.

We aren’t just in budgetary deficit in BC – we’re in social deficit.

The pandemic and social isolation has caused a historic rise in mental health issues and feelings of loneliness.

But our larger civic society feels like it’s fraying, too, doesn’t it?

Increasingly negative and polarizing rhetoric

Proliferation of conspiracy theories

Homelessness

Overdose crisis

Protests that block hospitals

Online influencers amping up the rhetoric and misinformation

We need new tools and ideas to address these problems. It’s time to start talking seriously about social capital, a concept I introduced in my last post.

As I define it, social capital is the network of relationships among a people that help society to function properly – without it optimal performance is forever out of reach.

By this definition, the unpaid, unknown, and unsung work of Canada’s volunteers can be just vital as that of our emergency room nurses or the police. Volunteers and community connectors provide an invisible but necessary “connective tissue” function that keeps communities cohesive.

(As a side note, one study by the conference board of Canada has valued the annual, national contribution of volunteers at over $55B. That’s one serious GDP contribution.)

Just like financial capital, we need to keep a watchful eye on our social deposits. Staying in the black is important.

Are we replenishing our stocks of social capital?

The bonds created by empathy, patience, and compassion between people are the basis of our communities.

And it’s people – not governments – that can and will fix our most existential crises by strengthening these bonds.

But government should play a role.

Government and elected officials can lead the way by modelling better behaviour. By being more careful with our words. By collaborating more across party lines and by focussing attention on policies that engender more social capital…

…in the workplace

…in healthcare

…in education

…and as we work toward deeper reconciliation.

Building towards 2024

I see a role for a renewed BC Liberal Party in redefining success to include social capital. It starts with how we operate as an organization. It starts with defining ourselves not just by what we are against, but by what we stand for.

Building social capital from the inside-out also means that we open our “tent”, our hearts, and our minds. Let’s welcome in new voices and ideas to create new connections all across BC. Let’s measure and celebrate the social capital our organization is building. This measurement will be predictive of our success at the ballot box in 2024.

Why not get started today? After all, social capital is good for YOU, too. Did you know joining any group – a bowling league, a book club (or a BC Liberal Party leadership team!) – boosts your life expectancy as much as quitting smoking?

To inspire you, I thought you might enjoy this list of 150 ways you can build social capital.

Two of my favourite ideas from the list:

Number 70: When someone says “government stinks” suggest they help fix it.

Number 53: Run for public office.

The best part of the list is the last 5 spaces are left blank for you to fill in.

What ideas are you trying? What ideas can our party use as we build towards 2024? Let me know by getting in touch.

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