Friday, February 21, 2014

The bloggers meet Broadhurst: On the economy, 3000+ attendees and #selfieswithbroadhurst

Our contingent of bloggers had a wide-ranging briefing this morning in with Liberal Party of Canada national director Jeremy Broadhurst – you may know him from the popular new Twitter meme, #SelfiesWithBroadhurst.

Lets start with a few stats. About eight or nine bloggers have been accredited to the 2014 biennial – its unknown how many are Conservative spies. Some six Senators registered, so watch out for them, NDP spies. There were 2500 delegates pre-registered when online registration was closed, and more will register on site. As off last night, over 2000 were on site. For last night only, local Liberals were invited to join for the Lawrence Summers/Chrystia Freeland interview, and Justin Trudeau’s opening speech. Broadhurst expects many of them will purchase a delegate or observer pass and stick around.

“All of them were signing contact cards to get in,” said Broradhurst “We’ve got to get into the mindset in this party that it’s great to have an event and get the message out to a good crowd, but you’re only doing ¼ of your job unless you get their information and engage with them in a two-way relationship after the event.”
Speaking of spies, the NDP has sent staffers Karl Belanger and Anne McGrath and MP Alexandre Boulerice. From the Conservatives, Pierre Poilievre, Lisa Raitt and a staffer from their party office. The Greens have one person, and the BQ didn’t take an observer pass.

One question going in was how the party would handle Senators in the party constitution, following Trudeau’s decision to remove Senators from the parliamentary caucus and exclude them from party organizational roles. Logistically a constitutional amendment can’t be considered at this biennial, but Broadhurst said the national board has decided to put a “sense of the convention” resolution to the delegates.

It will have three elements – that the convention supports the call of the leader, that it calls on the board to prepare necessary amendments for the next biennial, and that in the interim the constitution be interpreted as best as possible to reflect the new parliamentary reality.

“The constitution says the highest authority of the party is Liberals gathered at convention, and that this is the group with the greatest weight in the interpretation of the constitution. So it was decided this would have weight; it’s not a meaningless thing,” said Broadhurst.

Nominations for the next election are getting underway. A meeting has been called for Outremont, for example, as well as several others in Quebec and British Columbia. It’s the decision of the provincial co-chairs to call a nomination, and Broadhurst said a number of factors are considered: are there approved contestants, has there been a candidate search at the riding level, is redistribution complete, and is the riding healthy and strong

Nominations will happen effectively in three tranches, with about 1/3 going this spring, 1/3 in the fall and 1/3 next spring. While held ridings are more likely to go in the first tranche, it will not be limited to held ridings.

“Obviously held ridings are more likely to have a candidate ready to go, and I know a lot of MPs are working to get their forms in and go through the green light process to go in the spring,” said Broadhurst.

While media access was greatly restricted at the recent Conservative convention, Broadhurst said all but a small handful of sessions will be open to the press at the Liberal biennial this weekend

“We do this stuff out in the open,” said Broadhurst. “We’re going to have debates on policy at this convention, whether it’s the right thing to do or not on any resolution, and that’s good. If we came in with 160 resolutions and 160 resolutions passed, what the hell’s the point of that?”

And what they’ll hear across many of the sessions are discussions focused around a core theme of the economy.

“We’ll talk about a lot of important resolutions this weekend, and not to diminish any of them at all, but the next election will be fought on economic grounds. So let’s have a robust discussion about it,” said Broadhurst. “So that’s why we wanted to start with a discussion on the economy with Summers and Freeland, and we’ll come back to that theme throughout the weekend.”

As for the popular #selfieswithbroadhurst meme that has popped up on Twitter that got a bump Thursday when Trudeau joined in for a pic, Broadhurst was bashful

“I’m trying to limit the selfies,” said Broadhurst. “It’s fun though. I love my job, I love what I do, and it’s fun to be able to engage with members at an event like this.”

#selfieswithbroadhurst blogger edition

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