7:01 PM: I've settled in on press row for the evening keynote by Stephen Harper. I'm a little late but, thankfully and true to form, Harper is even later and the event shows no sign of starting, so it's all good.
Was off campus meeting a friend from my Carleton days for a drink, and had to run a bit of a protester gauntlet to get back in. The area in front of the conference centre is cordoned off from traffic and there were maybe less than 200 people making their feelings felt. It seemed like a rainbow of issues, united only by their dislike of Steve.
Flashing my blogger badge I managed to finally get past the activist cyclists who tried to block me with their bikes, finally crossing the barricade as a protester told me to go enjoy my money. Hey, I'm a blogger, if only...
The keynote hall isn't filled with chairs but it is now standing-room only and then some. Apparently delegates launched a raid on the press section for chairs (I think the press let them have five chairs, but five only). Staff replenished the press riser (in the far back of the hall) and press are now trying to guard their seats.
With that, I think you're caught up. I'll pause until the program begins, hopefully soonish.
7:12 PM: And we're starting; about 42 minutes late masters of ceremony Steve Blaney and Pam Wallin are on the stage getting things started. I'm distracted by more chair marauders, but I just heard someone say "strong, stable blah..." so I'm doing a shot in my mind. And wondering how far they're going to run into the Canucks game...
The pre-show is still going on though, with Jacques Demers interviewing James Moore on the floor, a Canucks fan celebrating his birthday today. And the crowd breaks into a not overly spirited rendition of Happy Birthday. It's also Preston Manning's birthday today.
Meanwhile, pretend reporter Mike Duffy is talking to delegates as well. But diverging for a moment, the Conservatives don't have near enough chairs here. The room isn't full, tons of empty space, but a few hundred are being forced to stand. Including a number of seniors. The media are being forced to give up chairs or be jerks, when really the party should (and could) put out enough chairs for attendees.
My head down, but Duffy just made a comment about "little women visiting native reserves" by themselves or something; yeesh.
7:21 PM: Wallin is going on about how Harper doesn't look for parades and lead them, he's guided by his principles. His principles, and massive taxpayer-funded polling and public opinion research to fund out where parades that he can lead are.
Now she's building a Harper as Rocky theme, or maybe Rodney Dangerfield. Always been underestimated, can't get no respect, yada yada. Trying to build a prompt and response rythym, but the crowd isn't buying into their "they were wrong" part that enthusiastically.
7:27 PM: And nearly 30 minutes after he was supposed to start speaking, Harper is slowly making his way to the stage, kissing hands and shaking babies to non-de-script rock music, as is the custom.
7:31 PM: Harper welcomes us to the new Ottawa Convention Centre, which is apparently the house that John Baird built (actually, the taxpayers of Canada through Canada's Economic Action Plan, but whatevs). With a hammer and nails, I'm sure.
Harper says there's two Ottawa, including the one "the media" refers to as Ottawa, the big government town. And then there's the real, hard-working Ottawa filled with good citizens who vote Conservative. Umm, sorry Steve, but the Conservatives bashed "big government Ottawa" for years, so give me a break. Of course, now Harper's party is the establishment, so the establishment is now ok.
7:36 PM: Harper was winning a few points from me with a well-placed Seinfeld reference, but then he ruined it by a baffling line "but it wasn't me that learned from George Kostanza, it was the Liberals." I don't get it, did we buy cheap wedding invitation envelopes or something?
7:40 PM: Harper is lauding his taxable day care subsidies; meanwhile with funding from the Liberal daycare program now gone daycare spots across the country are drying up. You can't have choice in child care, Steve, unless you have choices to make.
7:42 PM: Tax breaks for corporations now, and for families when we get around to balancing the budget. On crime, he affirms the crime omnibus bill will be introduced within 100 sitting days. Fairly sure he said sitting days. Was that the promise in the campaign, or was it 100 days overall?
He promises legislation this fall to scrap the gun registry, pitching it as part of supporting victims of crime. Umm, no. The registry was created in response to the concerns of victims of crime. Killing it has nothing to do with helping crime victims.
7:46 PM: Now it's on to using the troops as props. I'm fine with giving the military the tools it needs, I agree with that. But I can't stand lines that pretend other people don't support the troops as well. Don't use the military as a partisan prop, it's pathetic.
Meanwhile, he's moved on to righteously promising to continue not sucking up to dictators at the United Nations. Particularly, I suppose, after under Harper's leadership Canada for the first time failed to win election to the security council.
7:54 PM: Conservatives aren't a party of entitlement, declares Harper. Someone save that clip for future commercial use, because these guys are rocking-up the arrogance scale at an accelerated rate. Trust me when I say that, we Liberals no arrogance when we see it...
7:56 PM: The honeymoon with the NDP will pass, he says. And it probably will. And then he switched to French to speak to those Quebec NDP voters. Sounds like he's wrapping, hockey game starts shortly. But he wants to remind us that Conservative values are Canada's values, and the Conservative Party is Canada's party. He used to think it was arrogant when Liberals said things like that, but this time he thinks it's true, I'm sure, so it's different.
By the way, every speaker has their crutch lines. For Paul Martin, it was "let me clear." For Steve, it's "my friends."
Harper wants us to "be all we can be." Not by joining the army though, I hope? No, by building a better Canada in the years ahead. And hey, hockey game dude, wrap it! Canada is the best country in the world, he says. And the biggest hockey fans, Steve.
God bless all of you, god bless Canada, and he's done and walking out to more non-de-script rock music. I'll sign off for now, may have some thoughts later.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers