The past three days, I had the honour of attending the Manning Centre for Building Democracy’s Networking 2008 Conference here in Ottawa.
The three days started off with a wonderful reception at the National Arts Centre on Thursday evening at which I got to run into fellow blogger Dr. Roy Eappan and BT co-founder Stephen Taylor in addition to getting to share a few words with our Prime Minister. Throughout the evening I managed to say hello and talk to about a dozen MPs who were all gracious and open to some good political banter.
Friday and Saturday were day long sessions with some fantastic speakers.
The sessions included an introduction to rising Conservative Stars presented by Ralph Klein and Bernard Lord, A strategy session on winning close elections presented by Tony Clement, a panel session on what the Conservative movement should do about healthcare featuring past Ontario premiere Mike Harris, Dr. Brian Day (CMA president) and Joanne Marcotte of the ADQ. (Mike Harris kicked some ass here with his views). Friday ended with a discussion on the subject of Euthanasia presented by Dr. Margaret Somerville.
Saturday was simply a great day . It started with a wonderfully lighthearted view of politics from New Zealand perspective from Richard Prebble. During his question and answer period he had everyone in stitches when asked how New Zealand got rid of the sacred cow of farm subsidies and he replied “The best way to kill a sacred cow is to simply shoot it.” This session was in conjunction with a speech from Aussie strategist and pollster Mark Textor.
The late morning session saw BT co-founder Stephen Taylor talk on blogging and social networking and how useful blogs are becoming. Mr. Taylor managed to boost my ego BIGtime by showing a clip of my Peter Van Loan score on Ken Dryden. It was especially nice to have the crowd laugh in unison at the appearance of the name OfficiallyScrewed.com. (Thanks Stephen!!)
The next to last session was one I had seen much of before at the Leadership Institute sessions but it was full of great ideas on campaigning from some key minds in the conservative movement in Canada. Michael Davis, head of RMG, Richard Ciano of the Conservative Campaign University, Devin Iverson, veteran campaigner and Mark Spiro, principal with Crestview Public Affairs all had great insight which someone like me absorbed like a sponge.
The final session was simply a wonderful speech by past Nova Scotia premiere John Hamm. Mr. Hamm is promoting the 250th anniversary (this year) of democracy in North America. The very first of which was in Nova Scota in 1758. The goal is to engage as many young people to take part in politics and I encourage you to share politics with the youth of today. You can find out more via the website www.democracy250.ca .
The Manning Centre and their co-ordinators did a great job. The event was well scheduled, not rushed, very educational and the food at the Congress Centre was great for a conference. Kudos to everyone involved. I will most certainly be attending future events.
ADDENDUM: I was also lucky enough to get a photo taken of myself with the Prime Minister and autographed copies of Tom Flanagan’s book “Harper’s Team” and Preston Manning’s “Think Big”.