Ahoy, all you moderate, progressive, moderately-progressive, progressively-moderate, collaboratively-and-cooperatively-inclined, pints-and-politics-and-suds-and-soapboxes seekers of unity among those who will not be united:
No, I have not been drinking. But you have been. Many of you were drinking in Edmonton on Wednesday night, at Central Social Hall, and chatting about collaboration and co-operation among political parties, and (I gather, to a lesser extent) about engaging the people of Alberta in the process.
While you were drinking beer and eating chicken wings in Edmonton, the Big-C and small-c conservative glitterati, to use former Liberal MLA Hugh Macdonald’s term, were assembled in Calgary – quaffing champagne, I’ll have you know.
The occasion was the official grand opening of the new digs for the Manning Centre for Building Democracy.
If you go to the Centre’s website, you will see that the Manning Centre is really, and unashamedly, all about Building Canada’s Conservative Movement.
But more importantly, I want you first to click on this link to the National Post and read the story. Go ahead…I’ll wait…
(This is an historic moment of vignette-ish proportions – which is to say, not hugely historic – but this marks the first time Dave has ever urged anyone to read anything in the National Post – Ed.)
Good. Because there’s a snap quiz.
Question one: Why were the invited guests at Preston Manning’s little soiree sipping Moet while you were knocking back a Molson? (Okay, I’m sorry, I know it was a craft beer but Molson alliterates with Moet better!)
Answer: Because the conservatives are twenty years ahead of us in assembling – as Manning puts it – “the intellectual horsepower” and in training their volunteers, tracking the population at large on the issues, and engaging their supporters. And the opening of this new centre demonstrates that key people in conservative politics understand that politics is not static. Learning is continuous, training is succession planning, and you don’t succeed in politics by writing policy, sitting back, and waiting for the voters to discover you.
Question two: Is this going to raise the bar?
Answer: It had better. We have just been handed a lesson from the Master. Preston Manning has spent a lifetime trying to change the system, and trying to amass enough power within the system to be able to change it. He started that journey without resources or connections. That makes him, and his small band of early supporters, a lot like you – and look how he’s been able to grow the movement.
That you disagree with the political ideology of Manning and the people in his camp is irrelevant. You, too, aspire to change the system to better support the hopes and dreams of the people in your camp. You just know yet precisely what this thing is that you want to build or how to get it off the ground.
Neither did Manning and the conservative movement, at first. Now they do.
I think that with the opening on their new training hub, they’ve just issued us a mighty challenge. But the good news is, we can learn from what they’ve already learned and start closing that twenty-year lead.
That is, if we truly want to be something more than The Cocktail Party…