Trail native to represent Young Liberals of Canada at international seminar

Jesse Bartsoff looks forward to talking about Syrian refugees with a young global community

A Trail youth is hitting the international stage at a delegation that is tackling the refugee crises among other timely topics.

Jesse Bartsoff, 19, just found out that he will be one of five Canadians to represent the Young Liberals of Canada at the International Federation of Liberal Youth’s General Assembly, Conference and International Seminar April 14-17 in Istanbul, Turkey.

“I didn’t think by any means that I’d be selected,” he said. “I was quite shocked, honestly.”

He feels honoured to be one of 100 young Liberals from around the world attending the 39th annual event and is busy prepping for a policy presentation among other administrative tasks that will also take place.

“It’s really an interesting group because there are young Canadians from all over the country that are going to be traveling together for the first time; I’ve never met any of them before but I think they’re all in university and in a political science area as well,” he said.

Bartsoff is currently studying urban studies and political science at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. The 2014 J. L. Crowe Secondary School graduate attributes his ability to think critically, and to view concepts without bias to his early debate days at the Trail high school.

“It’s definitely something that helped open my eyes to see the world beyond just say the classroom and to see how intellectual skills can come into play outside of studies,” he said.

His interest in politics sparked then, and he’s found himself favouring the Liberal Party of Canada for the past three years because of its youth inclusion and positive outlook, conveyed by PM Justin Trudeau.

Bartsoff felt privileged to work on the campaign last year, locally under candidate Connie Denesiuk, and Marc Miller, who was elected in the downtown Montreal riding of Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs. Bartsoff was also pleased to head back to the debate table this past December as a judge for the World Universities Debating Championship in Greece.

He now lives two metro stations from Trudeau’s local riding and feels connected in terms of proximity but never discounts his time in Trail and realizes all Canadians, youth included, can have a voice as long as they speak up. He intends to do just that this month.

“I haven’t done any international representation for a political party, but I think they really appreciated the amount of non-partisan work both internationally and within B.C. that I’ve done,” he explained of his successful application. “It will be a very cool experience to meet different Canadians and also different people with similar goals and aspirations as I have from all around the world.”

He’s finding out daily what the conference will entail and is brushing up on Canadian Liberal policy in the meantime.

He does know, however, that the first day is devoted to the Syrian refugee crises, which he is particularly interested in considering the event is held in a country that is facing pressure from Syria but also from the European Union.

“I think it’s going to be a broader stance on the organization itself trying to develop a guiding framework for kind of global Liberal parties to follow or aim for,” he added.

“I would expect a large portion of that influence will come from what Canada has recently done …”

He’s proud to present his country’s refugee policy, which he said has broken all stereotypes suggested by opposition.

“We haven’t seen any negative harms yet, and I don’t think we will,” he explained. “If anything, we’ve seen a stronger workforce, we’ve seen people kind of breaking perceptions, and I think that’s something a lot of other countries might look to.”

In addition to talking broadly about Canada letting in over 25,000 refugees into its border, the Canadian delegates will collectively recommend the creation of a UN ombudsman for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) refugees seeking aid.

The group intends to welcome positive developments at the international, regional and national levels in the fight against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and or gender identity.

“For someone who doesn’t necessarily fit a heterosexual identity,” Bartsoff feels very close to this message.

“Obviously, all refugees are in a very difficult situation but that’s especially true for LGBTQ ones because they face greater persecution and, even more, difficulty accessing the necessities that they need,” he said.

The International Federation of Liberal Youth is the global umbrella organization of liberal youth and student organizations from around the world.

The organization advocates for liberal values at an international level and works toward increasing capacity for democracy and liberalism through facilitating the exchange of ideas and best practices.