Friday, December 01, 2006

Liveblogging from the floor: Night three and candidate speeches

*Refresh this post for updates throughout the evening program.

4:49 PM: Change in heart, I’m coming down to the hall now after all. Just too much buzz and excitement to be watching this upstairs on TV. So, I’ll be cut off from the latest TV gossip but reporting my impressions from the convention floor. Updates won’t be as frequent tonight as past live blogs, instead I’ll update after each speaker with my thoughts and impressions of their performance.

On the way down to the hall it was chaos, thousands and thousands are still waiting in the lines to cast their first ballot votes. It’s going to take awhile, the line was not moving that fast. Michael’s people were giving out chocolate bars on the way into the hall, that’s going to be dinner.

My usual blogging spot has been taken over by the broadcast media so I’m actually typing on my lap and running on battery. Hopefully it holds, I’m told my spot should be free after the dinner-hour newscasts are wrapped.

Martha-Hall Findlay is up on stage now, each candidate has 25 minutes, including videos and floor demos. Back soon.

5:20 PM: A
really great speech from MHF. I haven’t really heard her give a speech before. I’ve seen her in all candidates debates, sure, but that’s very much a different thing. Speeches are different, and she can really give a heckuva speech. It’s no newsflash, but she’s a comer. Definite cabinet material, and a real shot at the leadership next time. So much respect and affection for her in the hall here. She just needs some experience before she can be a national party leader or a Prime Minister. Next time.

After the video her song as she came out was “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”, long a staple song of political events. As she begins her speech after a bow and a standing-o from everyone in the hall, the French sounds great to me. It’s a nice touch too when she asks her Mom, who was here tonight, to take a bow.

I liked her message. She said the goal she set at the beginning of the campaign to have a strong female voice at the table in Montreal has been met, they’ve made it here. But just getting here, she said, is not enough. She references Nancy Pelosi, the first demale Democratic speaker in the U.S., who said we’ve made history, now we need to make progress. Sheila Copps made history, says MHF, now she’s here to make progress.

I also liked how she said we need to be proud of being Liberals again and moreover, we need to govern by principles, not by polls. Leadership isn’t control or clever tactics, it’s the ability to inspire.

Some quotes:

We need brains, heart and guts, and I have all three!

If I were to become leader of this great party Stephen Harper wouldn’t know what hit him!

Vive la Parti Liberal. Vive la Canada! Merci beaucoup!

Scott Brison is up.

5:45 PM:
Scott eschews the intro video for a brief introduction before he takes to the podium. A solid speech from Scott, he’s a veteran politician and you may recall he has a bit of experience giving leadership convention speeches.

He may be a former Tory but he’s really strong on social issues and that came through in his speech tonight. He talked about how we need to be nation builders, how we need to defend the charter, about the importance of equalization, and about how we need to help Canada’s working poor with an earned income tax credit.

Great line from Scott:

Liberals will always give you a fight when you attack charter rights.”

They run a video partway through his speech, and it’s a bit odd. It seems to be focused on climate change and global warming, attacking the Conservative record the environment with the feel of an attack ad frankly. The applause from the audience is strong though as the video ends and it’s back to Scott at the podium, who takes the fight to Stephen Harper now on environmental policy.

He has a message for Stephen Harper:

It’s the green economy, stupid!"

It’s interesting, I knew this was an important issue for Scott but he’s really dedicating a lot of his speech to it. I have to think this is going to heavily influence whom he supports when he drops out. He also calls for personal and corporate tax cuts.

A vote for me on the first ballot is a vote for the vision I have described, no matter who wins this leadership race.

Nice job by Scott who leaves the stage to, naturally, Celtic music.

6:02 PM: I'm back up in the blogger batcave, no space to blog downstairs. Joe Volpe is speaking. I'll be back for the next speaker.

6:56 PM:I’m back and it’s Ken Dryden time. To the strains of Cold Play it’s video time. You know, there was a time the Dryden campaign wasn’t pushing his hockey background to promote his candidacy. That time is sooooo over. The hockey clips and quotes are heavy in the video.

The applause is sustained and strong as Ken takes to the podium to the loudest ovation of the night so far. You can tell Ken is passionate, and he feels and cares deeply about what he’s saying. He’s not as wooden as he once seemed, he has gotten better over the campaign.

I’ve always liked Ken, he’s so genuine, so honest and so ethical. Back in May, at the LPC(O) convention, I sat in the lobby for 30 minutes trying to decide between Ken and Stephane. In the end, I felt Ken just couldn’t emote, he couldn’t play on TV. He has come a long ways in a few short months.

Great line from Ken, from when he was outside Vancouver’s safe injection site. Some patrons recognize him and say:

Hey Ken Dryden, he shoots he scores!

This one goes over great in the blog room:

History is a long time.”

Ken talked for awhile about his experiences on the campaign trail that was quite a mélange of remembering. He hits on a lot of the good Liberal ideals and values. Then he goes after the Conservatives, and questions if they really like this Canada. Playing to the audience here, it’s a simplistic argument and Ken is faaaar too intelligent a man to really believe that. His point though is to emphasize differences between Liberal and Conservative values, and that’s bang-on.

Ken gets cutoff before he's done, he was out of time. Now, it's Stephane!

7:02 PM: It's confirmed now that Allan Rock has endorsed Stephane Dion. That's a huge pickup for Stephane, big momentum move. Also, there's video up on CTV Newsnet with Rob Lurie talking about bloggers at the convention. No interviews in this piece, but video from inside the blogger batcave.

7:06 PM: We've got Newsworld on, is it just me or does John Manley really not care for Stephane?

Anyway, we're fully liveblogging again because this is my guy, and it's my blog. :) Glen Pearson, the newest Liberal MP-elect from London North-Centre, is on the stage to introduce Stephane. He talks about his respect for Elizabeth May, and the importance of the environmental issue. He said with May finishing second, that's a message on the importance of the environment that Liberals have to take note of. He's clearly making nice to green voters here, and moreover building the case of the environment as a big issue, and therefore, the man to fight an election on that is, naturally, the guy that has made it the centrepiece of his campaign, Stephane Dion.

Back after his speech.

7:35 PM: Stephane looks great, passionate, honest and real. The French is perfect…and the English is pretty darned good too. A little grammar slip here and there, but anyone who would take issue with that is just looking for something to attack him with. Dion nailed it with a great speech.

He talked about the clarity act and standing-up for Canada, to great applause. In a nod to party unity he points out that, for both Jean Chretien and Paul Martin:

I delivered for my PM, for my party, for my country!

He goes after Harper now, these Conservatives are more like the Republicans than Red Tories.

Canada has a PM that thinks the U.S. is not only our ally, but our model.

There’s more culture in a bowl of yogurt than in the entire Conservative government.”

He really went after Harper hard, and it hit home. Clearly he’s trying to show the delegates that he can be the leader, that he can run against Harper, and run hard. He needs to look Prime Ministerial, and he does.

Half way through the speech he turns to the environment and stays with it for awhile. He’s really getting detailed in talking about policy around the environment, and I like that idea. He’s not just an empty hat, he’s saying, he’s a man with ideas, he’s more than just the talking points provided by his staff.

It will be good for your wallet, and good for the country.”

The world needs Canada. And under my leadership, Canada will not fail the world.”

Stephane says it won’t be enough to just oppose Harper in the next election, and this is a very correct message he has been talking about since day one. We need to present a vision to Canada, he says, and this is where his three pillars come in: social welfare, economic responsibility, and the environment. This is a message that resonates so well not only with Liberals, but with Canadians.

The world needs Canada, and under my leadership Canada will not fail the world.”

Stephane got cutoff just before he was due to end, but I thought he nailed the speech. He did what he had to do tonight, and the hall was with him. Not only did he show the most substance, but he showed he has the chops to take on Harper. I think this is going to move some votes. Great job Stephane!

Next up is Gerard.

8:06 PM: Justin Trudeau is out to introduce Gerard, of course. I hear he and Gerard have been joined at the hip over the course of the week here. It takes Gerard a long time to get to the podium after Justin’s intro, interesting choice.

Gerard talks a lot about Canadian unity, not in the separatism sense but in terms of bringing Canada together. He got into the race, he said, because he was worried about Canada being divided, by challenges like an ageing population.

A big party of his speech was about party renewal, and Gerard actually released a platform on renewal this afternoon. Gerard says we don’t just need a new leader and a new slogan. We need to win the next election in the right way, and for the right reasons. A new Liberalism.

He touches on Afghanistan, and says we’ll only stay if the mission promotes Canada’s principals.

If Canadian troops are to be put into harm’s way it must be for Canadian principles that we believe in.”

I was surprised when he mentioned Stephane Dion in the speech, thanking him for his work on the environmental file. Very interesting that he chose to mention another candidate, and that it was Stephane.

Gerard is the first candidate to mention the nation, saying on the doorsteps in the last campaign it wasn’t nation, it was integrity. We’ll win back Quebec, he said, when our house is back in order. He’d be proud to be the first PM born and raised in Western Canada. And he mentions the foodbank, of course.

He’s about bringing people together, and he says it’s time. He times it well, doesn’t get cutoff.

It was an interesting speech from Gerard. He gives a good speech, passionate, compassionate, emotional. The first half I was worried he was too heavy on the platitudes and too little on the meat, but while he didn’t go as meaty as Stephane he did have a lot more specifics and substance later in the speech, I thought.

Will it be enough for Gerard to stay in third? Tough to say. But I will say that I can get behind Gerard if he becomes leader, and I’d be proud. He’s still firmly my second choice. Nice job Gerard!

8:32 PM: Bob Rae’s time begins with a video. He has gotten a lot of endorsements, and every one of them is featured in the video. Ready to lead now…ready…now ready now…ready….now….he’s ready to lead now, is the message I think.

And heeeeeere’s Bob. It’s Bob Rae unplugged, no podium, he’s carrying a mic. No prepared speech, it’s off the cuff. Bob wants to rap about Canada, about the world…and about the planet.

It’s been a journey, Bob says, and he’s learned some lessons. Bob is telling lots of stories, dropping names of old cronies, emphasis on old. He’s trying to play himself as a Liberal, even when he wasn’t, but in the blogging room here we’re all asking where’s the substance? Where’s the beef? He hasn’t given us any substance yet. We’ve got a Kennedy supporter, a Dion support and an Iggy supporter and all agree Bob isn’t getting it done.

Mentions child care and thanks Ken Dryden. Fiscal responsibility is the means that allows us to do other things. Social justice. Now he’s mentioning Brison and Dryden, and talking about the importance of going green and the environment. Clearly, he’s trying to reach out to the delegates of the other candidates.

It’s the classic frontrunner approach. Give the broad brushstrokes and the high-level feel-good stuff, but no specifics. A strong, strong contrast between the speeches by Stephane and Gerard. Didn’t score with me.

9:08 PM: Michael Ignatieff starts with a video too, littered with endorsement clips and shots of Michael walking on the beach looking, I guess, Prime Ministerial. And waving his hands and stuff. All the people seem to like him a lot. Contrasted to Rae’s endorsement clips Michael’s include a lot more youth, that’s a good move. Anyway, it’s was a long video, 10 minutes or so, now it’s time for his speech.

The emphasis at the start for Michael is party renewal, and party unity. An agenda for all Canadians. We came here together to make a historic decision, he said, and we will leave here together. And in the next election, he said, we need to make it about our values, our vision for Canada.

A Canada where hope is shared, not squandered. A Canada where promises are kept and not betrayed. A Canada that inspires.”

We built this country….we built this country on rock and roll…

After a lot of the brushstrokes and the platitudes he finally got into some issues. First issue, education, every Canadians should get to go to college or university if they have the grades. I agree fully and I’m happy to hear him say so, I’d just like a hint at how. Addressing climate change now, and what we pass on to our grandchildren. And now the First Nations, before bringing it back to values and the charter.

Took him a bit to get to Harper, but now he’s making the same values differentiation we’ve heard from nearly all the other candidates. Our differences in vision, and Canadian values. Good audience participation, getting them to shout Canada! Canada!

Just as the music is starting to play him off, Michael dials up the passion and ends with:

Give me a chance and I will make you proud, and I will give you victory!

He took time to build, but ended strong. I thought it was very much a frontrunners speech, not a lot of specifics, but unlike Rae it was a really good frontrunners’ speech. Good emotion, good speech. I would have like more specifics, but I thought he did a good job.

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Anonymous said...

Rae has a Liberal past
"He first became involved in politics by volunteering on Trudeau's 1968 Liberal leadership campaign[6], and subsequently worked on Liberal Charles Caccia's campaign in the 1968 federal election.[8]" - from Wikipedia
"The 1985 election resulted in a minority parliament, in which the Tories were 11 seats short of a majority. They held only four more seats than David Peterson's Liberals, who had actually won a plurality of the popular vote. After a series of negotiations -- begun by a phone call from Rae to Peterson shortly after election day -- Rae and Peterson signed a "Liberal-NDP Accord" in which the NDP agreed to support a Liberal government in office for two years. The Liberals, in return, agreed to implement some policies favoured by the NDP."

Penelope Persons said...

I thought Iggy's bit about getting the grades missed the point that poverty and living on reservations et al have a way of making it harder to get the grades, or even finish high school.

I thought his video stank, and so did his speech.

I thought Stephane gave the best speech of all, with Dryden a pleasant surprise. I liked Kennedy's frankness, but he just doesn't seem at all prime ministerial to me. Next time, maybe.

Rae should have had notes. I like him 2nd after Dion, but the speech was a bust. However I didn't need the speech to know what I thought about him.

But... I'm not a delegate. I was supporting Scott Brison.

Anonymous said...

The delegates have been talking issues for so long that Rae's "fireside chat" was very welcome. By mentioning other candidates' positive contributions, he cast himself as the uniter... the user of talents... the LEADER.

He uses things and people very effectively, and that is the mark of a successful Liberal Leader. As a one-time NDP member, I implore you to consider how much of a threat this man is to the conservative party. They are making a joke of endorsing him because that is their worst case scenario. I will vote Liberal next election if he is leading.

But who am I... Just an anonymous poster from Ontario.

Peace and Unity