A faithful correspondent sends the following from the field.
They have a gender-neutral washroom for those that don’t feel comfortable
using a gender-specific one. This was announced by their anti-harassment
They fought for half an hour about amending the convention schedule to
allow more time for policy discussion. They already have 7 hours. They
were going to bump one of the Obama speakers to a time when that person
wasn’t physically in Halifax. This motion failed. New Democrats clearly
go to convention to discuss policy.
Quebec caucus meets [today]. Probably the first time Mulcair does not do
so alone given the large presence of union activists with French signage.
The announced attendance is 1,244 participants. That breaks down into 32
media, 168 guests/staff/observers, 862 delegates from riding associations,
128 affiliate delegates and 82 MPs/former leaders/national
councillors/youth. I believe the correct attendance would make 1,272 not
1,244 but additionally that would suggest 200 out of 1,272 are not in
voting on things in anyway. That’s almost one in six people.
Dana Larsen has been protesting outside off and on throughout the day and
has some video up online.
The New Democratic Party is meeting in Halifax this weekend for their federal convention where they will discuss policy, hand out literature and hit up Pizza Corner at 3am.
The NDP is looking to, among other things, rebrand itself as a more palatable alternative to the Liberal Party on the left. It’s going to be a tough slog for the dippers (we’ll still be able to call them that if they rename themselves as the Democratic Party) and many observers note that this will be Jack’s last chance if he doesn’t deliver tangible gains during the next election. They’ve been given a gift in that the Liberals have the most right-wing leader in recent memory, so some re-configuration may be on order along with seafood this weekend. However, are they selling out in order to make their policies easier for Canadians to swallow?
First, let’s look at Jack Layton’s obvious flip-flop on sweaters.
Jack’s party has been particularly guarded on releasing draft policy resolutions from his party’s EDAs this time around. This is likely a result of what happened last time the NDP had a convention. But, it allows us to ask if there’s some platform sweater stuffing going on here.
Next, we can’t help but notice that the NDP is leaving those hard-working families behind and showing a strong nod towards those that sit around boardroom tables rather than kitchen tables as the rich fat cats in Jack’s party can pay $300 for a chance to sit in the “winner’s circle” and attend an “exclusive” (read: exclusionary) reception with Betsy Myers, the COO for Obama for America. According to her agency, Betsy’s fee is between $15-$20k per gig. Let’s hope that enough NDP “suits” fill the Bluenose room at the Delta (my, oh my) to pay her fee. It is unknown why the NDP is cozying up to an American political party that is currently pushing for two-tier healthcare in the US, and one that supports increasing troops in Afghanistan. For those outside of the “winner’s circle” (read: drum circle) there’s an alternative event for $10 where they’re be some traditional Maritime music.
If you’re thinking about lighting up some of the green stuff while you listen to another rendition of Barrett’s Privateers at the Lower Deck, think again. Word from the convention this weekend is that the NDP has barred Dana Larsen from attending Dipperfest this year. Some will remember that Larsen was the NDP pro-drug candidate that was dumped during the last election.
But more seriously, is the NDP shifting the the centre-left to fill a perceived vacuum left there by Michael Ignatieff? Remember, if Ignatieff supported Bush, it might as well be safe to embrace for the NDP to embrace Obama (as a majority of Canadians still do).
To everyone that made the Rally for Canada rallies a success, I want to say a sincere thank you. In Ottawa, we braved -10C weather and managed to turn out between 2000-4000 (RCMP said 3000, Ottawa Citizen reports 3500!!). In Toronto, about 1500 turned out to the rally there. Calgary had reports of up to 5000 people in the city core rallying. We rallied people in cities from Halifax to Victoria and places like London, Kitchener, Saskatoon, and Kelowna in BC. In total, over 20 cities held rallies today. Looks like we have a real grassroots movement on our hands here. We’re having the debate that they didn’t want us to have. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.
It’s been a busy day, and I expect a busy couple of days wrapping up this event. Please pass on your stories from the day and I’ll post them here!
UPDATE: Winnipeg had 600 people in about -25C weather (with windchill). The rally was bigger than the coalition rally which was held in a warm hotel ballroom.