Xtra
3 min

Tales from the convention

They have gone, and it is done. The Liberals have had their convention, and the world is forever changed – err, no wait. That’s not right. Actually, things look a to be pretty much the same. Okay, so Michael Ignatieff has now been confirmed as the leader with 97% of the votes (of which his was the only name on the ballot), so he can drop the “interim” prefix from his title. But there has been no great change to the landscape, unlike after their last convention.

Okay, so it’s not like nothing happened there. There were 32 policy resolutions that came up from the floor, including the party declaring that it still supported the idea of a carbon tax, even though the Green Shift was soundly defeated in the last election. Ignatieff let it be known that he considers the carbon tax idea a dead end, but perhaps someone should let the PMO know, so that it can stop including the “job-killing carbon tax” line in the daily indictments of the Liberals that it writes as Members’ Statements for the Conservative backbenchers. Oh, wait – reality or context doesn’t actually play into those particular statements. Never mind.

Some of the other policy resolutions? Keeping on with Dion’s plan to reduce poverty by 30% and child poverty by 50% in five years; resurrecting Paul Martin’s Kelowna Accords and national child care plan; creating a National Housing Policy (though I have to wonder whether this means they will continue to support Libby Davies’ current bill, or whether they’ll withdraw support in order to make room for their own plan). Also passed were resolutions to expand the power of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, providing pore incentives for alternative energy (which apparently includes nuclear); and allowing gay men to donate organs.

As well, the party has formally adopted the one-member one-vote system for choosing a future leader. I’m given to understand that each riding’s votes will be weighted on a point system in order to ensure that Toronto doesn’t dominate any future votes, but I haven’t seen all the details just yet.

Incidentally, Maclean’s Mitchel Raphael was taking photos of the convention – Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3. There are some great photos, including those of Scott Brison and his very cute husband, Maxime St. Pierre; Mario Silva with his partner Martin Forget; and Rob Oliphant with his husband Marco Fiola. Also, Liberal Pride’s Glenn Hendricks passing out the group’s promotional DVD, and best of all, Hedy Fry all glammed up to present an evening of drag queen burlesque. I wish I could have been there for that – I’ll have to see if anyone has any video.

In the post-convention hours, it sounds like Ignatieff has ordered that the party’s election platform be ready to go by June – but we shouldn’t take that as an indication that he wants to pull the plug just yet. Harper, meanwhile, wants the Liberals to know that now is not the time for an election because we just had one, and we should focus on the economy. Err, okay – how about you start actually dealing with it rather than playing political games using the economy as your backdrop?

Up today: a mixture of Private Members’ business with government bills in the House. We’ll see if Harper is there to face off against the energised Liberals, or whether he’ll be preparing for his trip to the Czech Republic.

Also, very sad news in that Don Newman of CBC Newsworld’s Politics has announced that he will retire at the end of the season in June. Newman is a journalist whom I have long admired, and with his retirement, it feels as though there is a definite shift happening in the Press Gallery. Much of the old guard is moving on, and while sure, that is somewhat good news for those of us just coming into out careers there, it also means that we’re losing the mentors who came before us.