On Oct. 19, the Hamilton Young Liberals hosted a leadership conference at McMaster. The aim of the day, said HYL president Waleed Aslam, was “to leave here inspired, to get involved, [and] to make a difference.”

The event, which took place in Convocation Hall, welcomed a collection of guests, opening with a series of Liberal candidates for MPP based in the Hamilton area.

Ivan Luksic, one such candidate for the riding of Hamilton East/Stoney Creek, and a Mac alumnus, suggested that students consider leadership from a different perspective.

“When I look at leaders, I don’t look at those who inspired humanity in history,” he explained. “I look at the more personal ones—my parents.”

One of the featured invitees of the afternoon was Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina. He spoke of the importance of getting involved in the political process, citing his own change of career as an example.

“What I found of 45 years in broadcasting was that I had so many things I was interested in, so many ideals…and for the most part, nothing really happened until you get into the political sphere,” he explained.

“So no matter the ideals, the concrete projects we might have in mind…nothing gets done without the political process.”

Before becoming mayor of the city in 2010, Bratina had a career as a radio broadcaster, hosting talk shows and acting as a commentator in sports. He initially became involved in politics as a city councillor representing Ward 2 in 2004.

Premier Kathleen Wynne served as the keynote speaker for the event, arriving late to Convocation Hall after having presented at the Leadership Summit for Women, also on campus on Saturday afternoon.

While the two-hour event was themed around leadership, Wynne took a more partisan angle, offering justification for the Liberal government’s economic strategies.

“[I want to talk] about how we’re going to be building Ontario up, because I think that’s a distinguishing characteristic between us and what’s happening on the other side of the floor,” she told the audience. “[Their strategy] is to some extent tearing Ontario down, talking about what can’t happen as opposed to what can.”

Wynne also echoed the appreciation of the previous speakers for the already-committed Hamilton Young Liberals in the room, in a move that was likely welcomed by the group but may have felt alienating to other audience members, who included a variety of students and community members.

“You’re also critical to the way we think about our policies,” she said.

“I want you to understand that the ideas you put forward are things we want to act on, we need to act on,” she explained, citing the province’s 30 per cent tuition rebate as an example.

“I know the Young Liberals have been hugely important in all our campaigns and will continue to be,” she said, later joking, “We don’t want you just because your joints are good.”

Devra Charney / Silhouette Staff

The notion of the glass ceiling has become synonymous with the everyday struggles women face to climb the corporate ladder. On March 28, a networking event was held at TwelveEighty and allowed Mac students to get an inside look at how women in the community face and try to break through the glass ceiling in their respective sectors.

The non-partisan event was hosted by Beyond the Numbers, a Young Liberals of Canada program that encourages young women to engage in politics.

Executive Vice-President of the McMaster Young Liberals Tahiya Bakht organized the evening around the theme of breaking the glass ceiling. It was primarily aimed toward young women because, in Bakht’s networking experiences, men generally do more of the talking.

“When I was at career nights or networking nights, I felt like boys were getting more time with the guests, and they were just more able to break the ice with guests, so I decided that I would host an event that was geared toward getting women more comfortable with that. I wanted the guests to know that this was targeted toward women so that they’d come with a more open mind.”

Students looking to build their personal networks as well as learn how to navigate the workplace mingled with professionals in law, politics and business.

Guests included YWCA coordinators, former Chief of Staffs, lawyers, professors, a VP of Maple Leaf Foods, Mohawk coordinators, EMS workers and staff from the Hamilton Police Services, and other female leaders from the Hamilton community.

Graduate student Felicia Rahaman attended the event in order to network and get advice on entering the professional sphere as a young female. She explained that because of her academic focus in Gender Studies and Feminist Research, she was drawn to the values represented by the event because it encouraged women to move up in the workplace.

“I find the issue of breaking the glass ceiling and getting more women to participate in the workforce very interesting. So I [wanted to] get firsthand experience with women that are working in [various] industries and understand what they perceive to be barriers and how to circumvent those.”

Linda Minas-Connolly, Paramedic Training Supervisor and Advanced Care Paramedic, spoke about the lack of women in emergency service jobs, but she also noted that physical testing in her field does not segregate males and females or favour one gender over another.

She reiterated that personal motivation and qualifications are important factors in success, and so recently, more women are entering the emergency sector as they gain confidence in their capabilities.

“Fire, police, it’s male dominated. I think it’s just up to the individual ... Fortunately, in the twelve years that I’ve been here, there have been more women in this type of job, this career choice, and I think that’s because they realize that they can do it just as well as or even better than a man can.”

Sole Practitioner Joan MacDonald advocated for the importance of having a female perspective at the upper-management level. She recognized the gap between men and women in her field in senior management positions and hoped there would be continued work to diminish the gap.

“When I publicly speak, I’ll say to men, the next time you go into a board room and you’ve got a vacancy, rather than looking across at a man or thinking of a man you work with, think of some of those high powered women and bring them with you.”

Bakht hopes to organize a similar event that continues the theme of empowering young women on a larger scale in the fall.

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