Convention newbie

Well, by this time tomorrow, my train trip to Québec 2006 will be underway. I think it’s safe to say there will be a good many New Democrats on VIA Train 060 from Toronto at 11 30. Some will have begun their journey in Windsor much earlier than that. By the time we arrive in Montréal, scheduled for 17 07, we will have picked up other delegates from stations along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. This is not to say the entire train will be New Democrats. No, for that bit of ingenuity on organizers’ part, we will have to wait for the Montréal – Québec leg. But you can be sure we NDippers will find each other among other travelers.

I must say, aside from the fact that I haven’t visited Québec City for a number of years and want to see it in all its glory (and take tons of pictures), I am very much looking forward to the weekend as a first-time delegate to a party convention. This is not to say that I am a youth delegate, far from it, but I have not been involved with riding-level politics during non-election periods before. Of course “election period” is a much more fluid term in this new era of minority parliaments and so my involvement in what seems like a perpetual campaign was inevitable.

Again, because this is my first convention, I am sure I will be quite taken with the broad spectrum of viewpoints within the party. Such differences only occasionally made it into what little media coverage NDP conventions of the past have garnered and, as an aside, is it just me or do so many resolutions passed never seem to be represented in election platforms, or at least not much on the stump speeches? I look forward to seeing our membership debate in any number of policy areas the complete scope of which I can only imagine.

Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor would have us nationalizing kitchen sinks in his inflammatory look at some of the resolutions he says are coming from various riding associations. Uh, Stephen, it’s a policy convention. We will deliberate, discuss and vote on all sorts of matters but we are not sheep. (I even remember Elsie Wayne having a tantrum at your last convention over same-sex marriage. That’s democracy, warts and all.)

I am sure that the Liberal Party leadership gathering in Québec City (somehow, I think, no coincidence), set for Sunday, will bore Canadians by comparison to our convention. Look for them to sling mud leftward, blaming the NDP for the Conservative government, as they plot to arrogantly retake their place as Canada’s natural governing party – legends in their own mind.

Considering that I don’t know what all will be in my registration package, in terms of materials to go through, I already have so much to look forward to as I anticipate meeting, and hearing speak, Stephen Lewis, Shirley Douglas, Tim Flannery and so many others.

So if you see me wandering around Québec City, looking like a tourist, I am. If I seem lost within the convention, I may well be. What I am certain of, however, is that I will be infused with knowledge, understanding, energy and enthusiasm (and I will probably be hoarse by Sunday).

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