By the time Jim was 13-years old, his family had left the Great Northern Peninsula and moved to Corner Brook. It was here that he got his first chance to work on a political campaign. In Grade 8 at the time, he simply walked over after school to the candidate’s office and volunteered to help. The district was Humber East and the candidate was Clyde K. Wells.
The work at the headquarters was pretty interesting, but it was the door-to-door canvassing that really inspired this young whippersnapper! He was in his element explaining to people why Liberalism is the best choice. Even at such an early age, Jim understood the principles and values of being a Liberal.
It wasn’t long before he was attending his first Leadership convention. At the age of 14 he accompanied his dad Trevor, who was a delegate at the convention held in Ottawa in the spring of 1968. Earlier that year, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson had retired and the race was on to succeed this famous Liberal. And Jim was part of history in the making as he joined his Dad for this memorable milestone in Canadian history.
Jim recalls sleeping on a rollaway cot at the historic Chateau Laurier hotel, but he was not one contented by the confines of a hotel room. He spent every possible minute at the Convention Centre, with an autograph book in hand, chasing down all the Liberal notables of the era.
The highlight of the experience for Jim was the voting for the Leader, the suspense and the final outcome as the Minister of Justice Pierre Elliot Trudeau became Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
As Jim recalls “This result was important for Newfoundland and Labrador as Premier Smallwood had committed the support of his previously uncommitted delegation to Trudeau”.
Not all of us are lucky enough to begin our commitment to Liberalism in such an exciting and historic fashion, but Jim has always been involved in the Liberal cause.
Team Jim Bennett