Another year of the Manning Conference in Ottawa has concluded, with the tone of this year’s event understandably different from years past. In the face of a recent federal defeat and with a new Conservative Party leader to be selected some months from now, curiosity surrounding new opportunities for the federal party radiated from many attendees.
Every year a multitude of workshops and discussion forums await those that pay the (several hundred dollar) Manning entry fee, with some speeches/workshops/forums being more interesting or valuable than others depending on your interests.
I’ve attended the conference for the past several years, and the most valuable takeaway for me is usually the networking that occurs after the events of the day have concluded (it is the Manning NETWORKING Conference, after all).
Any given Manning evening will feature a who’s who of the conservative community mingling with staffers, students and elected officials. The theme of this year’s conference was “Recharge the Right” and the question as to whom will lead the charge federally was front and (right of) center. In place of keynote speeches, potential leadership candidates were offered the floor to discuss their plans should they decide to officially throw their hats in.
Out of a crowded field of contenders, Conservative MP Maxime Bernier appears to be the most organized (potential) leadership candidate at this stage, and even had volunteers decked out in Bernier swag working the rooms of the Manning conference. Is an announcement imminent?
All federal Conservative leadership campaigns can expect to sweep into higher gear going forward from now, even if none are still “officially”nnounced yet.