Saturday, May 02, 2009

Live from the convention closer

2:24pm: I'm back on the convention floor for the closing of the convention, including the speech by the shortly to be official Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff. Keep refreshing for updates during the program.

Right now, Alf Apps, the incoming party president, is speaking to the convention delegates, who have been issued with noise-making thundersticks bearing the new Liberal logo. I'll post a pic later, but essentially it's an L with a maple leaf. I'm not sure why we needed a logo change, we don't need to do this with every new leader. We're not a hockey team that needs to sell jersys.

Anyway, Apps has some good opening lines about there being three former Liberal PMs in the room, noting to get even two Conservative PMs in the same room these days you'd need a subpoena.

Opening jokes aside, Apps is making a pitch for greater member involvement, more use of technology, and accountability. Membership needs to mean more than getting a membership card in the mail or putting a lawn sign up during a campaign.

He says there needs to be accountability both up and down if a 308-riding strategy is going to be more than a catchy phase.

To Jack, Steve and Gilles: The LPC may have been bruised a bit but let it be known that the party of the people has picked itself up and dusted itself up and we're ready to do battle, and make Michael Ignatieff the next Prime Minister of Canada.

2:37pm: Michael is now making his way onto the hall to banging thundersticks through a crowd holding red Michael/Liberal signs. Convention co-chairs Ujjal Dosanjh, Justin Trudeau Bobbi Ethier waiting at the podium to announce the results of the leadership voting. Hmm, wonder who won...

2:39pm: I missed the announcement of the party officer elections, but among the notables I'm told Sam Lavoie won YLC president, John Bourrassa is back as policy chair and Steve Kukucha won as vp-english. Congrats to all the winners, particularly my friend Kuch. And I want to congratulate John Lennard for running a very impressive campaign for YLC president. I hear it was an exceedingly tight race, and I know John has a big Liberal future ahead of him.

2:43pm: Justin is introucing Bob Rae. Fitting that he gets to introduce Michael, given how far they go back. He was one simple message: he wants Michael Ignatieff to be the next great Liberal Prime Minister of Canada, and he wants this renewed united Liberal party to form the next great united Liberal Party of Canada.

Canada, he says, needs the LPC at its very best and the world needs Canada at its best. It will only happen if each and every one of us makes it happen. Bob is making a strong pitch for party unity. There may still be people out there disapointed with the way the "leadership race" was aborted, and Bob is trying to speak to them in saying its time to now all come together so we can speak for those Canadians that can't, that need a Liberal Party to be their voice, the voice for jobs and justice, clean air and clean water, human rights and human dignity.

Now comes the mandatory Harper shots. It can't be a one-man band, Bob says. We have a one-man government now and we know it's not working that well. Harper has replaced the cabinet table with a mirror, which he asks who is the fairest of all. Bob is contrasting the Liberal team apprroach under Michael with the one-man band of Harper.

Now Bob is moving on to foreign policy, his critic area, lamenting Canada's declining voice and influence on the world stage, calling Harper's foreign policy a faded George W. Bush echo. Thought we'd heard the last of Dubaya bashing for awhile. But that's always red meat for a Liberal crowd.

2:56pm: OK, over 10 minutes and Bob is still going. I think Bob is one of the best political speakers in the game today, but after what happened last night we need to keep this thing tight. Bob is introducing Michael, not giving a stump speech. Keep it moving folks.

2:57pm: And of course Bob ends it seconds afte I wrote that. And he goes out with a Jean Chretien-style "vive le Canada!" which is a nice touch. Good ovation for Bob.

2:58pm: OK and now we're getting Dominic LeBlanc coming-up. Good to give both of the candidates that dropped out of the race for Michael a chance on the stage, very classy. And Dominic is a comer in this paty, no doubt.

Dominic makes a short speech touching on the economy, but he's here to officially nominate Michael as party leader and moves on to talk about Michael, his values and his ideals. He makes particular note about Michael's desire to reach out to rurral Canada, and speaks of the excitement for Michael in his own rural Francophone riding in New Brunswick.

Dominic waps it up at 12 minutes, saying his friend Michael Ignatieff is the man to move us forward.

3:10pm: Two young Liberal delegates are now coming to the stage to add their names to those nominating Michael. Apparently over 3500 others also did so online. I recall signing Michael's actual physical papers, and Dominic's, back when we were expecting an actual leadeship race. I'd have signed Bob's too if I'd had the chance.

3:13pm: And now the results of the vote. Total votes cast 2023. Spoiled 59. Total for Michael 1964, 97%. I look forward to Jason Kenney and Dimitri Soudas telling me how those 59 spoiled votes are a sign of party disunity and the coming appocalypse. Anyway, Justin calls to make it unanimous, everyone says hi.

And now Juston brings up, the newleader of the LPC and, of course, the next PM of Canada, Michael Ignatieff.

3:16pm: First it's a video, with decent production values, where people against a white background speak of their hopes for Canada to mood music. Then it mophs into an Iggy photo montage. Big applause for the pic of Iggy with Obama. Actually, four pics of Iggy with Obama, and another of him with Air Force One.

If they show a picture of a young Iggy with Pierre Trudeau I'm going to strangle myself with my mouse cord. Assuming they don't do that, it was a good video. Pics of Mi with Bob, Dominic and the Queen. And Peter C. Newman. Rick Mercer from the house-moving bit.

The video is now running about 7 minutes, starting to feel a little long. Am I getitng over concious about time? Maybe. It's important though. Looks like it wraps at about 8 minutes.

3:24pm: Alright, finally, Michael is making his way to the stage for the big speech. He looks a tad emotional, and is doing the old finger point to random audience person, blow kisses to the crowd thing as the crowd chants and claps.

3:26pm: And he speaks. He notes we need to get this show on the road because the puck drops at 6pm, and we're all Csanucks tonight. Iggy talks about a united party and the crowd chants Tous Ensemble.

If you're watching at home Michael says come on in to the Liberal Party, we'll give you a great welcome. Canada is more than the sum of its parts, we're one great people. We're not two solitudes, we're for each other all together. Or something like that, it was in French.

He says we need to tell Canadians we're living your challenges with you, in opposition we'll fight for you and in government we'll lead you back to prosperity. It's a good line. The road back to prosperrity may be long but we know with road will get us there: it's the Canadian way.

This would be a good speech line for a compare and contrast, a call and repeat: The Candian Way.

Some policy meat now, for thise who have been complaining Mi has been lacking on the vision. We need reformed, comprehensive employment insurance, says Michael. Also, skills training, a society where learning is a way of life and lifelong. A knowledge society where every child gets an equal start with world class early childhood learning and childcare. This gets a huge ovation from Liberal delegates. Where women get equal pay of equal value gets the delegates right back on their feet. Dido for where every student who gets the grades gets the best education in the world. He goes on, that means every Aboriginal and Metis child gets a worldclass, not a second class education. He also touches on literacy, and removing obstacles for Canadians for disabilities.

You know, as he switches into Francais, it occurs to me that for a guy the haters insist is some kind of crazy neo-con, Michael is laying-out a very centre-left vision in best traditions of traditional Liberalism.

3:49pm: My computer froze but I'm back online now. Michael is back talking about the Canadian way, and how we're good neighbiours and the best friends you'll ever have. We'll keep the peace, and if there's no peace to keep we'll fight for our freedom, and yours too. We're the party of Vimy Ridge, and the deserts of Kandahar.

Now he wants to speak directly to Stephen Harper, and he launches a pretty good attack to chants of shame, with the end line Harper doesn't understand Canada. Harper has failed to understand the PM has only one job: unite Canadians. And if he can't appeal to the best in all of us, we can.

Did someone just shout Yes We Can! from the audience? Yes they did. Now I'll get to read 15 newspaper columnists about how Ignatieff is comparing himself to Obama, And Pierre Trudeau. And Ghandi and Jesus. Mon Dieux.

And there we go, Mi's done at about 32 minutes. His wife and caucus members join him on stage, lots of kissing, even Bob Rae gets a hug and a peck on one cheek. And there's the streamers and confetti.

i think I'm going to sign off for now. I've got one more video to post, and then I'll be back at some point, maybe Monday, with some overall closing thoughts on the weekend. Depends on my Web access over Sunday.

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