Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Stampede Round-Up

It was a busy weekend for Calgary Liberals with a swarm of candidates descending upon the city for Stampede photo ops. Saturday morning was the annual Liberal breakfast, held this year at the Calgary Zoo. I was able to snap pictures of the seven candidates in attendance:

Gerard Kennedy likely won the cowboy competition of the Liberal leadership fashion pageant. He was the gutsiest when it came to "going western" and pulled it off the best (on both Saturday and Sunday). He seemed very relaxed when he spoke at the Liberal breakfast, keeping things light. (I have more GK pics posted on his OC)

Dion deserves full marks for effort. No one is going to ever confuse him for Clint Eastwood but, this being his fourth Stampede, he knows that you have to at least try (translation: the cowboy hat is a must). Stephane was proudly telling anyone who would listen that "I look better than Stephen Harper in my cowboy costume". I did notice that one of the buttons on his shirt was undone when we had a sit down interview on Sunday, so my hope is he wasn't walking around all morning like that. Of interest, on the pamphlet table his campaign included free cabbage seeds which was...odd.

Ignatieff stayed away from the cowboy hat, going with blue shirts both on Saturday and Sunday. I'm not sure how well he could have pulled off a complete Stampede wardrobe so maybe that was a wise move. I was a little disappointed that he didn't mention the carbon tax at all in his Saturday morning speech...

Carolyn Bennett looked a lot better on Sunday than Saturday. The Sheriff badge on Saturday made her look more like an 8 year old at Halloween than a serious politician. But she bounced back well on Sunday and was probably the best dressed of the Liberals at the Hays breakfast.

Dryden got the biggest laugh of the morning when he talked about how he's always worried about fitting into his jeans. Strange thing is, his outfit actually looked slimming. Like Iggy and Brison, he went with the jeans and open button shirt, avoiding the hat.

Scott Brison got a good response to his speech on Saturday and scored some points by talking about going to Cowboys when in Calgary. That might explain why he didn't feel quite up to dressing up for Sunday. His jeans and golf shirt was probably the least "Stampedy" outfit of any of the politicians at the Hays breakfast.

Hedy Fry showed up late on Saturday and, along with Dryden, was a no-show on Sunday. Her speech was pretty much "I'm a Western Liberal. You're Western Liberals. You should vote for me." I found it quite odd that a Vancouver MP would say "I welcome the other candidates to Calgary and the Stampede".

As always, every single candidate sucked up to the crowd with various variations on "Calgary Liberals are the best Liberals" and "we need to elect more Liberals in Alberta". You can read Naylor's Take on the Stampede Breakfast here.

Sunday was the Hays breakfast and Paul Wells has a good fashion review on his site. Among the highlights of his spy's report:

Someone is dressing the Prime Minister. [...] About a zillion times better than last year's bizarre too-tight S&M gear.

Jim Prentice wore the same damn buckskin jacket he always wears, Stampede or not, but given his portfolio, it makes sense.

As for the Liberal pretenders, Carolyn Bennett looked great and stylish in denim and suede.

Stephane Dion looked like Stephane Dion in western wear, which is not as weird as it sounds.

Michael Ignatieff looked exactly as you would expect an academic who was told to dress western to look. [...] No hat, though, which I'm told he claimed was because he has an enormous head and did not want to make it more enormous.

Most shocking outfit was on Scott Brison. Normally, our Scott pulls off the downtown-hipster-late-cowboy thing well, but he didn't even try today.

The winner by far of the fashion sweepstakes was Gerard Kennedy. You can tell when someone is really a westerner, and this guy is to the ranch born.

Since I'd talked to the Liberal contenders the day before, my two main targets for the morning were Jim Dinning and Steve Harper. Unfortunately, I missed Harper completely. It sounds like he jumped out of his limo, did some media and left fairly quickly (with so many human beings around, Steve was no doubt uncomfortable).

I did manage to track down Jim Dinning. I went up to him and said "Hello Mr. Dinning, could I have my picture taken with the next Premier of Alberta". Jim laughed and we had our picture taken. However, as soon as the click went, he turned and walked over to a nearby business exec without saying a word to me. Considering I could very well have been a potential supporter, that rubbed me a bit the wrong way; last year, Jim Prentice was willing to chat even after he knew I was a Liberal. On the fashion front, Jim wore a white top with his own name on it.

So, all in all, a fun weekend. I interviewed Stephane Dion after the Hays breakfast and will have a recap of that later this week.

Liberal MLAs Harry Chase and Dave Taylor [left] and the third amigo, Liberal MLA David Swann [right]

Rob Anders?


  • Rae hasn't done a lot in Alberta. He was at the LPCA convention but left early so he didn't even have a hospitality suite. He made one other trip out to Calgary a while back too, but I haven't seen much of him compared to the other candidates.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:50 a.m.  

  • Dion actually looks a bit like Hank Williams Sr. in glasses.

    By Blogger Simon Pole, at 3:29 a.m.  

  • Well Scott Brison couldn't dress like a cowboy without getting the inevitable Village People comments.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 9:04 a.m.  

  • 1.) what the hell is this askinso business. God I hate spam on blogs!

    2.) It really surprizes me that people are complementing the atire of some of these politicians but maybe I'm missing the sarcasm.

    Ignatieff, Dryden and Brison deserve major points for dressing casual and not trying to be a featured guest on Howdy Doody's ranch-romp.

    Both Kennedy and Bennett looked like rejected characters from Toy Story 3. Dion and Fry.... well enough said.

    What worries me is CG's description of what the leadership candidates talked about. No policy, no dynamic vision, just the regular platitudes and rhetoric. This was just a breakfast and great time to meet and greet, but I always like substance and I don't seem to be getting any.

    If anyone knows if anything substantive about leadership candidates was discussed at this event, I would be interested. I just keep wondering when the meat of this campaign is going to happen? It's already july and we barely have anything to distinguish the candidates except a vote on Afghanistan and now their clothing at the stampede.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 11:09 a.m.  

  • It might not be Stampede attire, but that's the best picture I've ever seen of Scott Brison.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:48 a.m.  

  • What, no Joe?

    I guess he has never worn jeans before in his life. :p

    By Blogger bza, at 12:33 p.m.  

  • jason bo; Just to clarify, that pic of Brison was from the Saturday breakfast which he did pull off well. The golf shirt was from Sunday, which I didn't get a picture of.

    riley; The candidates only got a minute to speak on Saturday morning and it was a pretty informal setting. I think it would be unrealistic to lay out a policy vision in that time. The candidates were talking about their ideas when asked as they mingled through the crowd.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:43 p.m.  

  • CG,

    I know it was just a breakfast and informal thing. I'm not expecting crazy huge policy. But this race is months old now, and the little policy that has been discussed is outside the margins. Nobody is talking about how to increase education, how to modernize healthcare, how to meet kyoto targets? I'm thirty for ideas and as each event clicks by, another excuse is given. I didn't think much policy, or any would be discussed, but it could have been a bold idea to at least raise a new policy proposal while one of the candidates was even in Calg... I dunno I guess I'm too much of an idealist to think that being a Liberal means raising issues no matter where you are.

    But like you said, they were mingling talking about their ideas. I find this perplexing as I'm really not sure what ideas they have come up with?

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 1:56 p.m.  

  • Riley; There are bits of pieces of policy floating around. I know Gerard has released immigration and environmental papers so far. Dion has talked a lot about the environment and has clarified his stand on a lot of issues. Brison has floated some interesting tax ideas out there. Maurizio has some economic ideas and immigration proposals up on his website.

    I don't think any of the candidates have a full fledge platform out yet, but most of them have at least laid out specifics they'd do in 2 or 3 areas, in addition to their overall vision.

    These aren't candidates who have been running to be party leader for a decade. Most of them declared in April and with the early July 4th cut-of, they haven't exactly been able to do policy 24/7. Most have an overall vision which is good. I expect that over the summer, they should all flush out their policy proposals with specifics a bit more.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:18 p.m.  

  • I guess the western air helped Kennedy out, his head can get a little swollen at times; I'm happy, though suprized, to see his hat stayed in place.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 p.m.  

  • CG,

    I do appreciate your replies because you're right, there are certainly bits and pieces out there.

    I really shouldn't continue ranting, but I used to love the Liberal party so much and I'm continuously sadened by what I see now. "Bits and pieces" won't be getting people like myself back into the fold. I have a lot of friends from broad backgrounds who pretty much have just given up on the party. BUT, you can always tell if they just saw some kind of shiver of hope, they'd run back with open arms. I certainly feel that way.

    As each day passes, I'm told by dozens of staffers from all candidates offices to "just wait for policy to come out". Just keep waiting.... a couple more days, a couple more weeks, a couple more months. I feel like the weekend before the convention I'm STILL going to hear "just keep waiting".

    I think people don't need to hear about "overall vision" I think we need to hear concrete policies leadership candidates want to fight for. I need to hear what Bill Graham is going to push for in parliament. I want to hear an agenda.

    Maybe that's too much. It's sure not going to come out of a stampede breakfast, but everyday we wait, more people like myself are going to say "forget it, I'm done waiting".

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 4:20 p.m.  

  • riley; Fair enough. I'll be a bit dissapointed if there isn't much else out there by the end of the summer but, looking at the schedules these candidates and their key aides have had since April, I just don't think the time has been there for too much policy discussion. I'd like them to think it through a little before floating ideas out there.

    Hopefully by the end of the summer, we'll see some fresh ideas.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:08 p.m.  

  • CG,

    Quick question I'm sure others have asked you.

    Would you ever consider running to be an MP? I think your candidness, fresh style and often good sense of humour would make for a welcome candidacy.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 9:13 p.m.  

  • Ah, I gotcha - I actually thought my idea of a "golf shirt" was wrong, but now it all makes sense.


    Honestly, I'm with Riley... I'm disappointed so far, no one has really impressed me with any ideas or notions.

    Now, I take your point they haven't been running for leader for 10 years, and you're right, for sure. But they're all politicians, for god's sake - *I* have a lot of ideas about what I'd do as PM, and I'm not even a city councillor.

    I blame the Liberal Party more than the candidates. They're slack on ideas and policy, or at least expressing it to us, but the Party hasn't done anything to foster important debate. No one wants to make the Stampede a Liberal Party event, fair enough, but come on, it's been months and I just don't have any sense of who I would like to see win.

    This stage into a US Primary, I'm starting to feel who I'm rooting for. Not here.

    I do like Martha Hall Findlay, I guess, though I don't know her stands on things. Dunno why, but I like her. It's her resume, I guess.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 10:38 p.m.  

  • CG, no offense, but you really need to get a better camera. :)

    Interesting write-up, though.

    By Blogger The Invisible Hand, at 2:54 a.m.  

  • Dinning is such a dick.

    By Blogger Peter Rempel, at 10:26 a.m.  

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