Brian Mulroney introduced Harper via video (he’s recovering from lung surgery).
Harper’s speech was very well written and kudos are in order for his speechwriter(s). I’ve been told that Harper writes many of his own speeches, so if this is true, he represents an oratory double-threat (he can write it and he can speak it).
He also brought it. The text and delivery had numerous hallmarks of a great speech. The use of contrast, the rule of three and the use of audience participation to reinforce and legitimize the message all contributed to make for an incredible speech.
“Promise made, promise broken” was said in unison by about 2,900 (delegates) and hundreds of observers. The outlining of Liberal silliness and broken promises one-by-one was quite effective as the line was repeated after each and every broken Liberal promise.
“They [the Liberals] promise to help us raise our children”,
Harper remarked and paused as we, the audience, erupted in laughter and then he joined with us laughing.
“So they’re creating a bureaucratic daycare program so expensive that young couples won’t be able to afford children”
“Promise made. Promise broken”
and so it went…
and then this:
“As prime minister, I will bring forward legislation that, while providing the same rights, benefits and obligations to all couples, will maintain the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
“And, while I’m at it, I will tell you that, as prime minister, I will not bring forth legislation on the issue of abortion.”
Bye-bye hidden agenda. That loud thud was the collective thud of Liberal strategists losing consciousness. Finally, an explicit declaration of Harper’s position on abortion. I didn’t expect it.
“And I will tell you this. That, as your leader, if you disagree with me on these matters, I will not call you stupid or label you a threat to Canadian values.”
“As leader, I care less about your views on these matters than whether you are prepared to respect the views of those who disagree with you.”
“And that’s why I will always allow all of your MPs to vote freely on matters of conscience.”
I believe that Harper struck an appropriate balance between respect for people’s polarized opinions and respect for the rights and liberties of Canadians. The status quo was maintained concerning rights on marriage and abortion plus he offered an extension of equal rights with married couples to gay unions.
Inclusive, respectful and electable.
Harper then continued to outline his plan for government and delivered it as if the writ could be dropped tomorrow. He pumped up the crowd and ended the speech with a lot of energy.
And on that… delegates exited the hall to vote for national council and on Stephen Harper’s leadership.
My friend Peter and I made our way towards the stage as the delegates filed out. A crowd had surrounded Preston Manning and Peter lined up to meet him. I chatted with MP Diane Ablonsky while the people in the small crowd otherwise tried to get a few words in with Preston. Then I chatted with Peter Mackay and thanked him for getting me involved during our chat at Ottawa’s Terry Fox run. We also talked about riding equality in order to build the party across Canada and received his encouragement for the formation of a youth wing for the party. I then received a text message from fellow Blogging Tory Lanny Cardow because they needed help upstairs scrutinizing the Harper confidence vote.
As an non-voting observer I met up with Lanny to see what I could do to help out. I manned the Quebec ballot box for a while and delived my “separate your ballots and fold twice instructions” in English and French a number of times. Fun stuff.
Even better times were had at the leader’s cocktail reception and post-speech parties. Stay tuned.