Monday, May 04, 2009

Convention Wrap

Well, that was a fun weekend. Certainly not as exciting as Montreal, but the LPC ran a well-organized convention (the Thursday night disaster aside) and the location and weather were so great it was impossible for delegates not to have a good time.

For those interested in the "inside politics" side of things, Steve Kukucha won the VP-English position, and Joan Bourassa was re-elected Policy Chair. Pierre-Luc Lacoste won the Young Liberals Policy Chair position by 11 votes, with Tom Cervinsky taking VP External. The big drama was, of course, the YLC Presidential race which ended in a dead heat (193-193, with 4 spoiled ballots). The John Lennard scrutineer picked "7", earning the right to call the coin flip, but foolishly went with tails - when the coin came up heads, Sam Lavoie became YLC President. My sources have, as of yet, been unable to confirm what type of coin it was that was flipped.

And, oh yeah, there was the leadership vote. 2023 votes were cast (by my count, that means about 80% of the delegates bothered to vote), with 59 ballots being spoiled. Among those were 4 Bob Rae write-in votes and 3 each for Belinda Stronach and Stephane Dion. Do that math, and that gives Ignatieff a solid 97% in the one-man race.

As for the event itself on Saturay, the party showed it learned its lesson from the way Sheila Copps was treated in 2003, and let Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc give nominating speeches. Both speeches were solid, but it was new party president Alf Apps who got the best line off: "We have 3 former Liberal Prime Ministers here which is great. To get 2 Tory Prime Ministers in the same room these days, you'd have to issue a subpoena."

So, this brings us to Michael's speech. To be honest, the introductory video didn't really do it for me - the "our own 2 hands" song has a certain "sing a song for Jim" sound to it, and the 6 pictures in a row with Michael and Obama (followed by Iggy in front of Air Force One) were a little to anvily.

The speech itself was good. My one knock would be that it was a tad generic - Bob Rae or Dominic LeBlanc could have given the exact same speech, the Liberal leader 10 years ago could have given the exact same speech, and the Liberal leader 10 years from now could give the exact same one.

But, at the same time, a long time Liberal told me at the after party that he liked that very thing about it, as it showed Michael was a true grit, and not just a tourist in the party or a conservative with a red scarf. And, thinking it over, he did eloquently manage to explain what the Liberal Party stands for. More importantly, he fired up the crowd - a job whose importance should not be under-estimated, as the individuals in the room will be counted on to give their time and money to the party in the coming years.

So, in the end, the Seinfeld convention served its purpose. Delegates had a good time, and were left with smiles on their faces. But fans will recall that the 9:30 slot after Seinfeld was not usually must-see-TV. The real challenge will be the next few months.

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  • I was very disappointed to see Joan Bourassa win her policy position after her screw up of allowing only Council of Presidents to prioritize policy resolutions. Her absolutely horrid chairing of the policy plenary (for god sakes she forgot to ask for dissenting votes or debates on some motions) was a reminder to how badly she has handled the policy process.

    The delegates made a big, big mistake reelecting her.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:47 a.m.  

  • I've lived in 3 Western Provinces, and have rarely seen a more dedicated volunteer for the Party than Joan. She works hard to make things work, and bring real change. She's also a gem of a person...

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 5:39 a.m.  

  • Wait a minute. There were a LOT more than 197 Young Liberals at this convention. Were they all too hung over to vote???

    Never mind... think I just answered my own question...

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 5:41 a.m.  

  • WesternGrit: You're not accounting for the losing side. If it was 193-193 with 4 spoiled ballots, there were 390 votes cast (193+193+4=390).

    By Blogger saphorr, at 11:19 a.m.  

  • Agreed on the Obama pictures. It was enough to see 1 or two of the them, but they did go way overboard and it seemed as if it was almost the same picture taken at a different angle.

    And only fools call tails.

    By Blogger Dan-O, at 12:45 p.m.  

  • I'd like to echo that disappointment that Joan Bourassa was re-elected for the exact same reasons Anonymous did. Given that vote tallies are not going to be released apparently, I'm going to assume that the vote was split, and her supporters got a slightly larger third.

    So why was policy discussion centralized so much? We had more than enough time to schedule some discussion time. Personally, I found the 'readiness' workshops not entirely productive and they could have easily been replaced by policy workshops where delegates could have at the very least discussed the merits of each policy, and proposed necessary amendments (Such as to the Outreach Secretary solution, and the one prior to that.. although it wouldn't have been necessary to begin with if we already had workshops).

    I have never in my life believed that discussion and debate should be sidelined in favor of putting on a good show. Constant dialogue represents an opposition to stagnant back door politics. If the LPC wants to be a party with a vision of change then it must open the policy discussion to all of its members, and if it is to be done through En Famille, then that must then be honoured as reflecting the views of party members rather than being ignored in favor of what the Council of Presidents decides. No more of this lip service to wider policy discussions. And certainly no more conduct from policy chairs as was put on by Bourassa.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:07 p.m.  

  • Yeah, I meant 400, but still, I saw a LOT more Young Liberals there than that... Maybe there were a lot who were "observers" (I knew some who went the Laurier Club route), and perhaps some were local Liberal youth out for a weekend outing...?

    There were simply more young folks there than the 400 or so who voted... as far as what we saw...

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 2:21 p.m.  

  • Hey CG,

    Any chance I could get a copy of that video. I want to use the picture of Michael "thrilled" to be standing in front of Air Force One with the big "United States of America" sign emblazoned on it.

    I think it might work in an election campaign setting...... for us Tories.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 3:07 p.m.  

  • When I was being given my party office ballots, the guy accidentally gave me a youth one too. Honest sort that I am, I quickly indicated no, I only look 16, and I gave it back. Oh, what might have been...

    By Blogger Jeff, at 6:16 p.m.  

  • You coulda been the king-maker Jeff...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:24 a.m.  

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