THE CAIRNS BLOG will have comprehensive "insider" coverage of the Ontario PC Leadership Convention. Yours truly will be attending the convention today and tomorrow and will update you on the latest events as often as possible and as soon as possible. Live blogging, regrettably, is out of the question. It's pretty difficult to get to a computer when sitting in an crowded audience waving a dumb placard.
I expect to be at a computer later tonight with my impressions of the first day of the convention, but it will probably be brief. I'll have a very full day tomorrow.
This may not QUITE be up to the standard you expected from the continuing coverage of the American political conventions, but you can be certain of this: the coverage will be much more than what I devoted to those useless health care talks. So yes, you can expect to see something. I expect to post something longer with my full impressions after the convention is over because you political junkies in the audience expect to see something.
Here are some online sources for live coverage: CPAC, the Parliamentary channel, will have live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the convention today and the voting tomorrow. CP24 has a live stream as well but I do not think they are planning gavel-to-gavel coverage. 680 News and CFRB have live updates.
The coverage should be good but already we're getting reporters- pretty much all of them, in fact- referring to "delegates" choosing the leader, and of course there are no delegates. All party members have a vote and this is not a case of delegates voting; it's a case of everyone voting. So why they're referring to "delegates", I don't know. It's sad when you have to get actual, correct information about a political convention from an opinionated blog as opposed to the mainstream media. These people are not doing their jobs.
Here are official links to the Ontario PC Party, and to the candidates: John Tory, Jim Flaherty and Frank Klees.
JOHN TORY HOLDS KICKOFF EVENT
The John Tory campaign continues to roll and they had a big Toronto event on Thursday for their Toronto supporters to kick off the convention, down at the Granite Brewery. It was a packed house filled with Tory supporters and included several political notables, including new MP Peter Van Loan, city councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, former federal candidates Heather Jewell and Lida Preyma, and former Finance Minister Janet Ecker, who served as a Master of Ceremonies of sorts to help introduce Tory. She urged a big "get out the vote" effort.
Also there was Ben Kerr, that guy who sings karaoke on the street at Yonge and Bloor who's also run for mayor several dozen times, lending his support to Tory. He had also supported Belinda during the federal leadership and said she was "Better than Viagra". Funny.
CONVENTION AT THE CROWNE PLAZA DON VALLEY
I am trying hard to hold my fire on the convention location, the Crowne Plaza Don Valley, until I actually see what it's like. I am expecting the absolute worst.
I'm used to going to the conventions at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre which is an excellent venue for a political convention. Personally I think they should have chosen a bigger venue. This event is already over-subscribed and seating is not guaranteed to everyone. At least the prices are reasonable: 40 bucks a pop. But I have the feeling this is going to feel like a glorified nomination fight.
This is an unusual leadership election because voters vote in preferential fashion, giving their first choice and their second choice, much like what happened in the federal Conservative race this year. If the race goes to the second ballot, the low man will drop off and his votes will be redistributed to the other two candidates. So unlike the 2002 convention where everyone had to stand in line to vote again, the voting will all be over once the polls close at 3PM. Importantly, unlike the 2002 convention there will be no voting happening in the convention hall at all. People were able to transfer their votes to the convention hall and many ridings actually had their main voting location situated at the convention.
The fight is being billed as being between the Mike Harris Tories and the Bill Davis Tories by the media, but I'm not sure whether that's what is going down. John Tory has been labelled as a "Red Tory" by the press, and Jim Flaherty likes to think of himself as the big Harris Tory running against the Red Tories, but I really don't know if most Tories appreciate being divided into two camps. The wild card in this race is Frank Klees. He's run a quietly effective campaign and has defined himself well as a crusader on health care. Many see his supporters as the potential kingmakers.
It will be interesting to see who has the hottest hospitality suites tonight. In 2002 you could tell Tony Clement's campaign was in trouble because they were charging a fortune for drinks. Meanwhile Chris Stockwell was actually giving stuff away- I got a free soft drink from his suite. In 2004 at the federal Tory convention, you knew Harper had it in the bag because his suite was the only one in the convention hall- the others had theirs in bars across the street. Who knows, maybe the candidates this time do NOT have much of a hospitality suite. I'd be surprised, though, if Tory didn't have something big going.
NOTE: Original Stars Hockey League's first game is in Barrie, tonight.