Sunday, May 29, 2005

Hardly a Funeral

So the Alberta Liberal Party (that’s the provincial Liberals) held their convention in Calgary this weekend and I thought I’d attend. The fact that the “77th Annual Alberta Funeral Home Owners Conference” was being held at the same hotel made for some incredibly obvious one-liners over the course of the two days. But, to be fair, the mood is a lot more morbid with the federal Liberals than the provincial Liberals in Alberta right now so I’ll avoid cracking any funeral jokes during the remainder of this recap.

The Friday night was “celebrating 100 years of the ALP” which I can only compare to John Turner’s farewell tribute in 1990 (“celebrating mediocrity…and that’s the positive spin”). Let me just say to any Alexander Rutherford or Charles Stewart fans out there, you missed one heck of a recap of their lives. I know there have been few successes since 1920, but still… The “Daryl who wins” was the Master of Ceremonies and Kevin Taft gave a brief address before people made their way to what was, truth be told, one of the best hospitality suites I’ve ever been to at a Liberal convention.

Saturday featured a series of workshops on the “Organize to Win” theme. The most interesting was a discussion led by Keith Browsey with the open question of “what the heck does it take to beat the Tories?”. That led to a wide range of theories and suggestions which was really quite fascinating. The reason behind Tory domination in Alberta is a huge question worthy of a book in itself but it was interesting to see the many theories Liberals held.

At the banquet lunch, party leader Kevin Taft gave what was probably the best speech I’ve ever heard from him. The man is definitely improving. It was short on specifics and I’m not sure how many people actually believe the optimistic “we’re going to win” attitude, but the speech hit on the right notes and was damn entertaining. Taft’s recap of a Tory government circa 10,000 BC was really, really funny (“they’d just discovered fire two years ago and already they were talking about firewalls”).

So, all in all, I give the ALP credit on a very well organized and well run convention – their first in a long time. While the provincial Liberals are definitely less glamorous than the feds, they’re very down to earth and they don’t attract the power hungry crowd (for obvious reasons). I got to hear Rick Miller cracking jokes in the hospitality suite, Harry Chase singing his Ralph Klein song, and I had conversations with 4 or 5 MLAs, including Kevin Taft. The Liberal MLAs really seem like normal people and, unlike a lot of MPs, haven’t let their egos consume them yet.

4 Comments:

  • Questions - how many delegates were at the convention?
    Do you get the sense that the ALP has momentum?

    By Blogger John Murney, at 8:35 PM  

  • Thanks for the coverage. And you're right: the Liberal MLAs are good people.

    By Anonymous Jim, at 9:01 PM  

  • My guess is there were about 100 delegates at the convention. It's hard to say since not everyone sticks around for the whole show.

    The ALP is definitely in better shape than they've been in for a long time. Where they go from here will obviously depend on what happens with the PC leadership race.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:47 AM  

  • media need to cover it,no hidden agenda.

    By Anonymous tuxedo shirts, at 7:28 AM  

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