The Liberal Convention in Winnipeg

Mom was the president of her local riding association for decades, and attended an awful lot of conventions. She was one of the original 600 or so delegates to elect Pierre Trudeau as leader of the party in 1968.

That convention was described as one of the most important conventions in party history. The Globe and Mail reported the next day it was “the most chaotic, confusing and emotionally draining convention in Canadian political history.”

I can’t describe the convention I just attended in Winnipeg in the same terms. It was very interesting and exhausting, but there was no chaos or confusion, and I don’t think anyone was emotionally drained as a result.

I’ve never been to a convention, and because I’d worked on the campaign as a volunteer, and am now on the local riding executive, mom said she’d treat me to one. Good thing, as when I went to register I was shocked to see the delegate fee was $900! Steep.

And I’ve never been to Winnipeg, and have only heard disparaging things about their winters and the mosquitoes in summer. However when I arrived I was pleasantly surprised at what a lovely city is is. They have really beautiful old buildings interspersed with some very nice looking high rises.

As we landed I was fortunate to overhear a woman in the row in front of me say “see you at the convention” to someone, so I said “are you going to the Liberal convention?” It turns out she was, and not only that, she and I were both staying at the Marlborough Hotel.

We shared a cab and went to our rooms. As soon as I got off the elevator on the third floor the stench of the carpet nearly knocked me over, but inside the room the smell was okay. A very dirty small old small room; outline of an iron burned into the carpet; multiple plugs going into one sagging outlet behind the furniture. Really nice free breakfast in the restaurant downstairs.

The convention centre was just a few blocks away, so we were able to walk back and forth and that was great. On the first night there was a social event at the Human Rights Museum, and they had opened it up for us to view, so my new friend Beth and toured all of the floors.

On Friday and Saturday we were kept busy with workshops from morning until night. I went to bed exhausted, and didn’t attend any of the socials after the first night. To me an event with hundreds of people standing around is torture anyway.

I learned a lot, and now I can say to people I realize policies and then laws are made by us, the people. We the party members hold policy meetings, and these policies are voted on provincially. Those chosen then to go the national convention where the members vote on what they want. I was thrilled to see how immediate government can be if people just knew.

The Prime Minister came straight from the G8 meeting in Japan and when I commented about that to Anna Gainey, the president of the party, she described him as “a machine.” He gave a great speech and kissed a baby in the audience, and was absolutely adorable, as ever.