For the second weekend in a row Ottawa has been descended upon by conservative-minded individuals discussing policy and election tactics. This time Ottawa is hosting those who make up the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario for their annual general meeting.
Even though the 42nd Ontario election isn’t set to kickoff until 2018, the PC machine is already revving its engine. The amount of candidates vying for elected positions within the party, combined with an impressive member turnout (1500 or so), are clear indicators that the PCs are in a healthy place. This party will be the one to watch in the upcoming campaign, which will feature open nominations for PC candidates starting next year.
At first glance, the party appears to have gotten much younger. Perhaps inspired by the energy of newly minted leader Patrick Brown, a youth movement was on full display yesterday with an impressive amount of event patrons (seemingly) under the age of 30.
As part of a re-branding process, the PC party also unveiled a new logo.
As the party is openly looking to expand to voting blocks that may not normally vote conservative, the green leaf we see in the center is no accident. Given the difficulties plaguing the Ontario Liberal government, all votes may be on the table in Ontario’s next election if Brown can make even small inroads into traditional Liberal voting demographics. Inclusiveness is going to be necessary for the PCs as they compete with a provincial Liberal government marred by scandal, but well entrenched organizationally.
Political advocacy was also on display last night at the many hospitality events held across the city. A campaign has been launched to encourage the Ontario PC Party to adopt policies in favour of an open retail market for wine, beer and spirits. The “Free My Booze” campaign ultimately seeks to end retail monopolies on all alcohol in Ontario. In a media release issued prior to the AGM, spokesman Grant Dingwall stated “This isn’t about moving from one special interest group – the big brewers – and moving it to another, like the big grocers or the convenience store association. This is about an open market.” You can check out the campaign at http://www.FreeMyBooze.ca
On the federal side, (potential) CPC leadership candidate Maxime Bernier was also making round at the events of last night. This marks the second weekend in a row that Bernier has been present at a major gathering of conservative minded voters.
The Ontario PC convention continues today through to Sunday.