Paul Martin was in town on Saturday at the Calgary Stampede to flip some pancakes for the media. Given the enjoyable irony of holding a Liberal breakfast smack in the middle of the biggest "cowboy" event of the year, I figured it would be worth getting up a bit early and showing up (besides, free breakfast and free admission to the Stampede was too much to pass up).
I showed up at 8:30 and there was a monster lineup. I think this was somewhat intentional for the media since they were letting people in a lot more slowly than they needed to. I also found out later that they gave away 1700 tickets and then sold an additional 300 - for a room with capacity 1500. Since they sold some tickets, they couldn't really turn people away at the door which led to a very crowded tent and far too few pancakes and sausages for the late comers. While in line outside, I did see David Herle wandering around with a bit of a dazed look on his face (I was tempted to shout out "What are you looking for David? The 40 seats you lost? You sure aren't going to find them in Calgary!").
Inside, McLellan gave the opening remarks (the emcee introduced her as "Minister of Finance Anne McLellan...oops not until Tuesday, har har". I guess he was a little off the mark, eh?). I didn't really listen too closely since I was trying to find a seat and get as many pancakes as I could before they ran out.
Then, Paul spoke. As usual, he was mad as hell - this time about BSE. This drew the largest applause from the crowd. He didn't mention the past election at all which was likely a smart thing. Apart from that, there was a lot of sucking up to Mayor Dave Bronconnier (who wisely turned down an offer to run for the Liberals) and to, surprisingly, Ralph Klein.
Seriously, it was as if Paul had joined the "I love Ralph" fan club. He congratulated him on erasing the debt and on doing a great job as Premier. Now, I know Paul owes a lot to Ralph for practically winning him election but it still seemed weird. I mean, a Liberal Prime Minister speaking gushingly about the dean of Conservatism in Alberta. And with a provincial election around the corner too. Weird.
The rest of the speech was the usual stuff about Canadian values, health care, yada yada. The crowd was very friendly and afterwards Paul went off to meet with the defeated candidates before watching some of the Stampede with Darryl Sutter. The media reaction was fairly favourable and it was nice to see the PM making an effort of help out the local Liberal cause even if it's a cause lost beyond hope.