Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ride 'em Cowboy

The Stampede is now in full swing - the annual event where Calgarians try to dispel the stereotype that they are red necked yahoos by dressing up in cowboy gear and shouting "yee-haw" at everyone. I attended a pair of Stampede breakfasts this weekend, and if I'm going to report on Stephen Harper's summer schmoozing, I suppose it's only fair that I give a recount of the not so subtle leadership networking going on in Liberal circles this summer.

Finance Minister Jack Layton Ralph Goodale was the speaker at the annual Liberal Stampede breakfast, as Paul Martin was a no show. For the record, those criticizing Martin for skipping the Stampede need to reasses their definition of a Prime Minister's role in governing the country. Regardless, Ralph gave a descent speech, although I thought he came on a little strong defending the NDP budget deal ("it's not that bad guys...really...I'm still the Finance Minister...really I am..."). There were 6 Cabinet Ministers at the event (Goodale, McLellan, Brison, Volpe, Stronach, Mitchell), several Senators, and 100% of Alberta's Liberal MPs. Belinda was clearly the most popular and after talking to her for 20 or 30 seconds, I'm convinced that I'm being a little unfair in describing Stephen Harper as a robot. Honestly, she's the most android-like politician I've ever met in my life. But I'll give her credit: considering how despised she is in Alberta right now, it took guts to come to the Stampede and to dance it up all night long at Cowboys.

Sunday was the Senator Dan Hays' breakfast, always a mini-festival in itself. Scott Brison and Joe Volpe were quite visible greeting the locals and not, I repeat, not, campaigning for leadership. Jim Dinning and Lyle Oberg were also there from 6:45 a.m. onwards, meeting the visitors and not, I repeat, not campaigning for leadership. I also bumped into Paul Wells who was on assignment investigating the growth of Equality Party support in Calgary.

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