Monday, April 10, 2006

It's Fun to Stay at the L-P-C-A!

I strongly suspect that most people wanting a run-down of the LPCA convention are only interested in it from a leadership perspective. So I'll quickly gloss over the Friday night "tribute to Anne McLellan" with the following comments:

1. My gawd! Those pictures of Anne in the mid-90s are just horrific. The hair!? The clothes!? It's nice to see a politician look better with age.

2. I found it kind of funny when a group of individuals clapped in response to the line "Anne routinely outpolled the Liberal Party by large margins during elections".

Now, for the meaty stuff. Saturday morning, delegates had the privilege of watching 16 candidates go toe to toe in what could only be loosely described as a "debate". I really don't know why they just didn't bracket them 1-16 and do a series of March Madness knock off debates.

While a lot of the candidates tried to lay out as much of their background and vision as they could in three minutes, most resorted to the few lines guaranteed to get a cheer:

"Anne McLellan is good"
"Stephen Harper is bad!"
"Alberta Liberals are the best Liberals!"
"We need a fair and clean leadership race, with no attacks"

And, much like the quad jump in figure skating, nearly everyone tried to get their mandatory French lines out of the way as early as they could. And, much like in figure skating, it was painful to watch in a few instances. Here's the run down on the candidates:

The Big Six (minus Dryden, who was at a wedding)

Bob Rae: He addressed his record as Ontario Premier right off the bat with the old quote, "I've been rich and poor, but being poor is better". Truth be told, Rae one of the best three or four speakers on this day. I wouldn't go so far to declare it a Rae day, but he was sharp.

Gerard Kennedy: Much like Bob Rae, Kennedy used the talk show host style for his opening comments, moving around the stage which I think worked well. He talked about his Alberta roots and mixed social and economic policy with talking about his experience at the food bank and his desire to see more "enterprise". Was definitely one of the better speakers on this day, in both substance and style.

Scott Brison: Brison also played to the crowd declaring that "Alberta Liberals are special", which I'm going to assume wasn't meant in a Ralph Wiggim sort of way. He also talked about how his values are Liberal values (as of 2004 anyways). Even though he didn't wow in the debate, Scott was very smooth, as always, working the delegates all weekend long.

Stephane Dion: Mentioned the word "vision" about 17 times in his opening speech. As always, Dion was weak in English, but strong on policy, playing on the sustainable economy theme.

Michael Ignatieff: Was the only candidate to sit for his opening statements. Tried to paint himself as a "centre-left" candidate but, truth be told, I was left a little "meh" by what was intended to be a fire up the troops speech. I think Iggy is better off playing to his policy strengths in these types of debates.

The Little Six

Martha Hall Findlay: MHF tried to keep it light but I'm not sure if that was the best strategy for someone needing to paint themselves as a credible candidate. Her speech was OK but she was a lot better in her hospitality suite one on one, according to those who had a chance to talk to her.

Hedy Fry: Gave us a nice history of the Liberal Pary and talked a lot about Canada. What she did not talk about was Hedy Fry, which is probably a wise move. She ended by saying she would be "bold and daring" - I'm not sure whether to be inspired or afraid.

Carolyn Bennett: Bennett was brutal on the Q & A but gave one of the better opening statements. She talked about healing the party and complained about the last election campaign, a view echoed by many candidates. As an aside, I don't think I heard Paul Martin's name discussed all weekend.

John Godfrey: My opinion of John Godfrey rose a lot this weekend. He was certainly the best of the 16, mixing humour, policy and emotion. His opening jokes about Ashley MacIsaac were likely the only lines which got genuine laughter from the crowd (other than Fort McMurtry), and he talked about his experience in government, before moving on to sustainability, social justice and sovereignty. He was also extremely friendly and willing to talk to all the delegates over the course of the weekend - comes across as a very genuine and funny guy.

Joe Volpe: I'll start off with my one Joe Volpe compliment - his french was good and he used it frequently. That said, Joe looked angry throughout his whole speech, pounding his fist around like he was Benny Hinn. I was kind of afraid he was going to run into the crowd and attack someone and, considering what I've written about him in the past, I was worried it might be me.

Maurizio Bevilacqua: Maurizio is a candidate I genuinely like but, speaking last, I think people were a bit tired by the time it got to him. He didn't do much to stand out and, in this race, Maurizio needs to do something to stand out if he wants to win.

Campaign Chairs
(These four were mainly on stage to raise their profile and will all likely be endorsing other candidates in the near future)

Ruby Dhalla: Talked a lot about her life and obstacles she's had to overcome. Dhalla seemed very genuine, but had a hard time firing up the crowd. She sure did spend a lot of time in the Gerard Kennedy hospitality suite on Saturday night though...

Paul Zed: Opened with "Like many of you, I share deep roots in the Liberal Party of Canada that goes back 35 years". Obviously enough, he was looking at the crowd and not the other candidates as he said this. Zed mentioned the King Edward Accord and gave a descent speech.

Joe Fontana: Joe was...amusing. Talked about how he's not from Toronto which just shows you how Ontario-centric this race has become. Fontana talked about the difference between bull and Liberal and got a few laughs but I have a hard time believing anyone watching him said "I want that man as our next Prime Minister". You could definitely tell that Fontana was having the most fun of any of the candidates, if nothing else.

John McCallum: McCallum was surprisingly good, mixing ideas with a few Stockwell Day pot shots. I still think Stephen Harper does a better John McCallum impersonation than John McCallum.

Not Worthy of Comment

Clifford Blais

As for the hospitality run-down, the following candidates hosted suites:

Martha Hall Findlay
Michael Ignatieff
Stephane Dion
Gerard Kennedy
Scott Brison
John Godfrey

And as for a general sense of the delegates, it was pretty clear that Kennedy, Ignatieff and Brison generated the most buzz among delegates. That said, a lot of people, myself included, were really impressed with a lot of the lesser knowns, and I'm glad that they'll have a chance to raise their profile over the course of the leadership race. My only regret from the weekend is that Belinda dropped out, depriving us of copious amounts of free food and booze.

I also have one more very special convention related post to come later this week, so stay tuned.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention another fun slip-up from the panel debate when Michael Ignatieff talked about Canada's "assimilation policy". If I'm going to hit on poor Joe, it's only fair to mention this one too.


  • I think Iggy will come out on top, barring a dark horse and some heroic reasons for editorial praise.

    How do three or four disgruntled liberals create a HUGE mud-slinging Epaper with no overhead?

    Easy….One website …….and One Email address.

    By Blogger TonyGuitar, at 1:35 a.m.  

  • I'm glad you finally adsmitted to the REAL reason for liking BS..
    Horny Toad

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:56 a.m.  

  • God Help the Liberals if Bob Rae wins...

    By Blogger Raphael Alexander, at 2:01 a.m.  

  • An interesting note on Ruby Dhalla. After the Banquet on Saturday night I went back to my room to change and noticed Ruby in the atrium with Kennedy having a drink...Which is why he was late going to his hospitality suite.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:14 a.m.  

  • "Her speech was OK but she was a lot better in her hospitality suite one on one..."

    CG, you dog!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:56 a.m.  

  • Bob Rae is VERY popular in Ontario!

    By Blogger Joanne (True Blue), at 8:23 a.m.  

  • Probably best that you didn't call it a Rae Day, now there's a loaded term...

    By Blogger Jeff, at 9:31 a.m.  

  • I heard that the new President of LPCA supports Dion. Is that true?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 a.m.  

  • "I was kind of afraid he was going to run into the crowd and attack someone and, considering what I've written about him in the past, I was worried it might be me."

    This was a great visual, thanks. ;-)

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 10:55 a.m.  

  • Thats hillarious. I can just see Volpe running through the crowd attacking on lookers. What a clown.

    By Blogger Zac, at 11:17 a.m.  

  • The use of this blog to mock Joe Volpe is almost getting funny.

    I hope you ready to eat a lot of crow when Volpe makes it past many more rounds of ballots than your dream boy Kennedy.

    I guess arrogance is a strictly Alberta sort of thing. You have Klien, Harper and Bart.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:29 a.m.  

  • "I hope you ready to eat a lot of crow when Volpe makes it past many more rounds of ballots than your dream boy Kennedy."

    I don't know about eating a lot of crow, but I know the Liberals would be feeding a frenzy to the NDP and Conservatives if Volpe made it as the leader.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:37 a.m.  

  • Go Hedy and/or Bob!

    By Blogger Jim (Progressive Right), at 11:49 a.m.  

  • Don't know about you but I find that Dr. Bennet is the most painful speaker to listen to. Haven't had much experience with her in small groups, but in public she's simply atrocious. She hits almost all of my cringe inducing speech mannerisms, surprising for someone from a fairly talkative profession (GP) who moves into politics. With more than 10 people around her, it seems that her IQ drops 50 points.

    Go Joe, Bob, Hedy, Carolyn, or Joe!

    It's kinda too bad, since Bob has been doing useful and interesting stuff recently. But when you make the papers for buying your party membership 3 days before the race really starts... oy!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:33 p.m.  

  • Please explain the Fort McMurtry joke.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 12:38 p.m.  

  • Jason wrote:
    //Please explain the Fort McMurtry joke.//

    Ding-dong...we have another winner!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:57 p.m.  

  • Wasn't Fort McMurtry that conservative town that surprised everyone by being the first place in Canada to legalize same-sex marriage?

    Or was that some judge named Roy McMurray? ;)

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 1:12 p.m.  

  • McMurtry? Isn't that the guy who wrote Brokeback Mountain?
    Anyhoo, I'm interested in how the event treated bloggers. Did anyone liveblog the event? Were there allowances made for bloggers. I didn't see anything like that covered in the papers but that's probably the last thing they'd want to recognize. What was your impression of what the party's attitude is to blogging and bloggers.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:26 p.m.  

  • You have Klien, Harper and Bart.

    Oooh, low blow, man, low blow.

    By Blogger Ryan Ringer, at 1:34 p.m.  

  • The joke with Fort McMurty is that it is a mispronunication of Fort McMurray, which is the location of Alberta's infamous oilsands... Not being able to correctly name the location of a large source of Alberta's wealth indicates a disconnect with Alberta... thereby marking Volpe as an "outsider".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:37 p.m.  

  • I watched as much as I could on CPAC of the discussions.

    What I saw only confirmed my earlier suspicions, and that is, none of the expected and announced candidates will resonate with the Canadian public.

    Comments of Inatieff that he is "firmly planting his flag" on the left side of the Liberal party may resonate within the party, and may even resonate in Toronto, but it is a disconnect with the rest of Canadians.

    Harper and the Conservatives are virtually guaranteed a majority next election with whom ever comes out as Liberal leader from this group. And frankly, I don't see anyone else at this point who is on the horizon within Liberal circles that will inspire Canadians. I beleive that there will be at lease one "interim leader" before the Liberal party will become competitive on a national basis again. As a conservative, I am thankful for that.

    Of course I hope that the Conservatives stay in power forever, but realistically, all governments get complacent and arrogant, and hopefully the Liberals will have a good replacement when that time comes. Who that will be, who knows? All I know that now is not the time that anyone exists.

    By Blogger Andy, at 2:07 p.m.  

  • CG, on the weekend I heard Ignatieff say that there are 300 Alberta Liberals. Is that true?

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 2:46 p.m.  

  • Leave it to Rae to declare it a Rae Day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:00 p.m.  

  • 1. Yeah, there were close to 300 delegates there for the weekend.

    2. As for bloggers, Jason at, live blogged the event. Check out my previous post for a link to him.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:57 p.m.  

  • from calg grit or don?

    Andy wrote:

    Harper and the Conservatives are virtually guaranteed a majority next election with whom ever comes out as Liberal leader from this group.



    Another myopic Harper robot surfaces from the Con backroom.

    Are they gonna fix the election like their Bush buddy?

    Keep up the Neo Con arrogance and certainty about the uncertain future.
    It's working real well for the Neo Cons in the USA right now.

    Max D

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:51 p.m.  

  • Joe Volpe is a set of clown shoes, the guys a joke. Let's end it there.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:51 p.m.  

  • Wow, a Liberal accusing a Conservative of arrogance. What a topsy turvy world we live in. It was only a couple months ago that Liberals scoffed at the idea of Harper becoming PM or winning seats in Quebec.

    An earthworm is more inspiring than Harper, you say? Then the Liberal Party should have run an earthworm last election. Perhaps it would have done better than Martin.

    I agree it's far too early to declare the next election a Harper victory (or anything else), but it's nice to see some Liberals haven't yet eaten any humble pie. You lost for a reason (several actually). Find a leader who understands that and isn't just in the race to serve his or her own narcissistic ambitions.

    Keep on thinking that you're entitled to your entitlements and you're screwed.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:16 p.m.  

  • Why is Scott Brison, who can barely speak French and has all that Income Trusts baggage considered "Big Six" while Joe Volpe who is fluent in four languages including French plus can also communicate in Chinese considered "Little Six". IMO Volpe trumps Brison!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:33 p.m.  

  • How did Harper win by default against Martin in 2006 and not in 2004?

    I think he won more than through default...he learned from his political mistakes...Martin didn't.

    Liberals should be wary of thinking that they'll win back their crown through default.

    I never suggested any party had a monopoly on arrogance. I just thought it was rich that in your previous posts you seemed to suggest that only the less inspiring than the earthworm neo-cons had a monopoly on it.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:42 p.m.  

  • I agree.

    Volpe is much more serious contender than Brison, or even Kennedy. I would rank him right up with Ignatieff, Dion, Rae and Dryden.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:49 p.m.  

  • joe?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 p.m.  

  • Joe Who?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 p.m.  

  • Joe Volpe does not even belong in the same room as most of these other quality candidates, let alone in the leadership race. I've seen Joe Volpe in action,he is easily one of the most pompous, self centered, loves the sound of his own voice speakers I've witnessed. People just cringe when they see him heading for the microphone. And Martin just made his ego even larger when he chose him as Ontario Political Minister. We Liberals in Ontario will never, never forgive nor forget the central role that Volpe and Ianno played in the failed attempt to oust Dalton McGuinty during his leadership review after the 1999 election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:44 p.m.  

  • What about Denny Coderre? Is he going to be running?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:55 a.m.  

  • Bonjour,

    We welcome additional volunteer writers and editors.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:15 a.m.  

  • Canada can't afford Volpe as leader. Imagine his expense account if he became Prime Minister?

    Hedy Fry is the one to watch!

    By Blogger Joanne (True Blue), at 6:31 a.m.  

  • Anon; The "Big 6" and "Little 6" have nothing to do with how good candidates they are. It has to do with how much support they appear to have in the party right now.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:56 a.m.  

  • Look, not for nothing, but stuff like the "big 6" and the "little 6" only divides this party. What we need are all inclusive labels. The Tangible 12 maybe...then as the field narrows...the Terrific 10, Nifty 9...from the Elite 8 on down, this stuff writes itself.

    By Blogger Leny Vilekoskytch, at 11:24 a.m.  

  • Having been brought up in a house affected by 'Rae Days' in the past, I think I can speak from a similar perspective as many Ontarians - Bob Rae (who is an affable, intelligent man), should never lead the Liberal Party. That is, unless you're a Conservative, in which case, he's the best man for the job. I think there is way too much baggage attached to him if you're even loosely affiliated with anyone in the public sector in Ontario.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:31 p.m.  

  • Joe Volpe is a greaseball. When he jumps in a pool he leaves an oil slick longer than Tobin's. Bob Rae is the man, time the Liberals got back to someone with intellect.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:45 p.m.  

  • What are the websites of these candidates and potential candidates? Can anyone list some of them for me?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:24 p.m.  

  • "Like all 22 year olds, Kennedy helped found Canada's first food bank in Edmonton, becoming its first executive director".

    The draft sites and the wiki indicate Kennedy helped found Canada's first food bank in '83.

    The Edmonton Food Bank web site is quite clear that the initial organizing began April '80 and incorporation was Jan '81.

    Prior to being hired as exec director in '83, how involved was Kennedy in the founding 2-3 years previously?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:00 p.m.  

  • I found a lot of helpful info here!

    By Anonymous, at 7:11 p.m.  

  • By Blogger raybanoutlet001, at 9:43 p.m.  

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