Friday, June 10, 2011

Gettin' our conservative on: live blogging Preston Manning at #cpc11

10:30 AM: Had to run over to the Rideau Centre for a cold beverage because none seem to be available in the conference centre, but I'm back in the same hall. It's now packed; with the delegates having sent a message to Canada's youth by massively rejecting the creation of a youth wing, they're now here for a panel on the Manning Centre's "everybody's conservative" report with headliner Preston Manning, who is looking greyer than I remember him.

10:34 AM: Apparently everyone is becoming conservative and is finally realizing how right they are and how wrong everyone else is. I find it just amazing how research commissioned by a conservative think-tank just happens to confirm and buttress he organization's world view. Fascinating, that.

10:37 AM: And here's Preston Manning. Directly over his shoulder is a sign for the ladies room; I hope CPAC frames that out of the camera shot. On the report, Manning says more and more conservative values are being shared by more and more Canadians and are becoming mainstream values, which he says is a good thing. But as a note of caution, as they become more mainstream a challenge will be that they become less identified with the conservatives.

He goes on Canadian views on the perception of government is changing; we're getting more sceptical of it's ability to do big things and are turning more to community groups. Left unsaid is the Harper government's strategy to make the government less relevant; it's self-fulfilling to a large degree in my view.

He also says it'd worrisome more people said they had a worse view of politics after the election than they did before, and feel people don't get into politics for good reasons. Preston wants to change this. Hey, here's an idea Preston: tell Steve to stop spending millions attacking people's personal motivations for getting into politicians as part of your party's partisan strategizing. Your party is feeding this problem you claim to lament.

10:43 AM: Now Carleton University's Andre Turcotte, who put together the research, is diving deeper. He says while Cons built popular support from 2004 onward the number of those identifying with conservative values was actually decreasing, but something really changed between 2008 and 2011.

People don't want big things from the government and don't trust them, except on public safety. There's no appetite for grand designs at the moment, he says. People want the government to work with other organizations and governments.

Now they're getting into the specific questions, and some of their methodology really becomes questionable. They ask if you have a problem, who do you turn to first, and say it's telling that you turn to themselves and and their friends first, before the government. Well, of course we do. And then he says the only thing they turn to the government first on is public safety. Again, so what? I'd agree to both and that hardly makes me Conservative. If I'm out of work I'd turn to friends and family to help find new opportunities; if I'm mugged I call the cops. So what?

10:52 AM: Oh, some of these questions: do you want a government focused on today's challenges or doing bold things about the future? Yeah, because you can't do both, it's totally an either/or. How about asking if you want a government that can walk and chew gum at the same time? That's what I want.

10:59 AM: Apparently Canadians are increasingly isolationist and want government to solve problems at home and not everyone else's overseas. This counts as increasing Conservative values, but only if you ignore strong Conservative support for the mission in Afghanistan, in Libya, and elsewhere.

11:04 AM: Yeah, I'm calling shenanigans here. The link between their data and their conclusions is being seen through blue-tinted glasses. Some of these questions are just silly, and besides, left unsaid is the huge gulf between so-called conservative values and the actual policies and actions of this conservative government.

11:13 AM: Now it's questions form the poll. One questioner wants more conservative professors preaching conservatism in universities; alrighty then. Manning uses that to segue to the need to educate and train campaign volunteers, something his Manning Centre does. Another questioner from Ottawa takes an offhand crack at Quebec on pork-barrel politicking.

11:17 AM: They're talking about people wanting more choice and control over their lives; meanwhile somewhere else delegates are debating the definition of marriage.

11:18 AM: Questioner now doesn't like human rights tribunals, calls them a "debate blanket" that stops debate. What, debate on not exposing human rights violations?

11:22 AM: Now a Lyndon Larouche-supporting "journalist" is on a diatribe about financial market conspiracies, and killing cattle or something. Manning says the biggest threat to private enterprise isn't socialist NDPers, it's irresponsible corporations that give everyone a bad name.

11:24 AM: A questioner is now complaining that her daughter is being brainwashed by "left-wing teacher" and is developing opinions that don't match her own world-view, requiring her to re-educate her daughter by forcing her to share her perspective. Oh, boy. Yeah, don't let her form her own views or anything.

Former Nanaimo-Cowichan candidate John Koury says he was looking to create wedge issues in the campaign; the budget has good policy but the NDP were talking electoral reform. He's wondering if there's anything in their research on rep by pop and if democratic reform has merit.

Manning says while he's not against electoral reform, he'd ask why NDP governments in power provincially in a position to change election laws haven't done anything about it. It's hypocrisy, he says, and he's right.

11:31 AM: And that's about if. I'm off to lunch. Looks like the afternoon is closed off to the media for the most part, so I'm off for lunch and I'll be back early evening for the big Harper speech, and the protests outside.

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