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A liveblog recap of the Ignatieff event in London today (Sunday).

I was asked if I’d like to attend the Ignatieff tour in London today (Sunday), and I figured why not. I’ve not done a “liveblog” of a political event in awhile. We decided not to attend the skating event, but did attend the “meet and greet” and so on afterwards. I took some “liveblog” notes as this was happening. Unfortunately, I don’t have the proper cellphone plan to blog directly from it to my blog “live” as it happened, so that’s why I’m calling it my liveblog recap, which are my thoughts and writings at various moments during the event.

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3:45 pm: Got to the Grand Theatre where the “meet and greet” is taking place after the skating. We were here early, as only a couple of people were in the reception area. A nice chance to sample some of the hot apple cider, hot chocolate and various food trays that were lined up for everyone.. A thumbs up from me for the food and drink.

4:10 pm: People are starting to drift in now, and it’s slowly filling up. Some music is turned on for background noise. Some jazz and classical music.. alas, I’m not up on that type of music to tell you what the artists of preference were.

4:20 pm: Doug Ferguson, Liberal candidate for the riding of London-West, who I’ve talked with before about blogging and such when he was in another capacity with the Liberal Party, enters the room with a cast on his one arm! I knew politics was a bruising profession, but not THAT bad! It turns out he broke it playing a pickup game of hockey. I get to briefly say hello to him, but am slightly amused when he forgets who I am and asks what riding I’m from. I mention Oxford, and am about to mention my blogging, which would spur his memory, when he gets caught up talking to other people and getting to the front to prepare for Igantieff’s arrival. (Don’t worry, Doug.. I’m not feeling spurned).

4:22 pm As an aside, the elephant.. er .. the blogger in this room feels a bit out of place, even though I’m a Liberal member at what is a clearly “Liberal” event that most of the Liberal faithful are gathering for to hear Ignatieff speak. Not sure why, but perhaps it’s partially because I’m not really used to attending campaign style events where lots of people are crammed into a meeting area, or perhaps because I kind of feel like I’m here as an observer recording the event.

4:24 pm: Just scanning the crowd, and this is a very diverse crowd. Lots of younger university types here. I presume the Young Liberals in the riding have made a strong show of turnout here today. There are however lots of folks from different ethnic communities, as well as older Liberals here. A really nice diverse mix.

4:32 pm: Iggy gets here to a round of applause. Glen Pearson, MP for London-North-Centre, and Liberal MP blogger extraordinaire, is also here, as is Roger Caranci, a former London city councillor who will be running in London-Fanshawe.

4:41: After a few minutes of touring the room and shaking hands, the speeches and intros get under way. Glen Pearson is up first. He’s only been back a few hours from being an observer in the south Sudan referendum on independence, but he was able to get back in time for this event. He mentions there is representation here today from some London City Council members who also happen to be Liberal Party members. Sandy White is one who kindly reads my blog, and who I took the time to say hello to. (I didn’t catch the other). The Mayor, Joe Fontana, is also here. Chris Bentley, Ontario Attorney General and Liberal MPP for London West, is also in attendance.

MP Pearson Introduces Doug Ferguson. Doug does a couple of bad broken arm jokes.. which aren’t worthy of being repeated here 😉 Lots of groans in the crowd. His main lines that caught my attention: “Victory will come from all of you knocking on people’s doors” and that Conservatives are for stealth fighter jets and more prisons, while Liberals are for people – a nice line that gets a big round of applause.

4:44 pm: He introduces Ignatieff to the crowd. Ignatieff does the usual thank you’s and such, and points to the various MP’s and Liberal candidates behind him – “we have a strong team here and in Parliament, as opposed to the 1 man band on the other side.”

4:46 pm: He mentions that he attended a Coptic Church in Mississauga this morning as a show of support in light of the terrorist attack in Egypt last week.

4:47 pm: “A citizen of Canada is a citizen of the world”. He wants to restore Canada’s standing in the world. He mentions Glen Pearson’s contributions to being a Sudan observer, and says he wants to bring Canada back to the time where going overseas, contributing as a world citizen, and then coming back to Canada with all those worldly experiences is seen as a good thing, not something to be scorned at. The future of Canada for its youth will take place in China, India, Brazil and other places worldwide, and we need to be prepared for that.

4:51 pm: Now, some policy mentions. He mentions that a Liberal government will not engage in corporate tax cuts while there is a 56 billion $ deficit on the books and calls it ” a dumb move” that Harper and Flaherty are doing. Instead, he proposes that we need to invest in education for our young people. Dalton Mcguinty and Chris Bentley understand that, he says, and he says he and they will work together for that end.

4:53 pm: He mentions the Liberal policy position on family care. We are the only party with a family care plan, he says, and says the future of care will be in the home. No one wants to go to long-term care if they can help it. This will help those folks.

4:54 pm: He mentions pensions – and that the Liberals are the only party to say let’s strengthen the Canada Pension Plan. He does not like the private scheme the Conservatives are proposing – believes people will be hit by fees and other costs.

4:56 PM: His final words are reminding folks that Liberals believe in equality of opportunity. Everyone in this room is no better and no worse then anyone else. Stephen Harper doesn’t get or understand that.

5:00 pm: Roger Carinci closes with some thanks and with these words: We must re-engage the public in politics – because a lot of Canadains are turned off to politics right now. He urges the crowd to start talking politics to our neighbours and re-engage them – do not be afraid to discuss politics with them. Very impressed by this fellow.
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As an epilogue, I’ll mention I thought Ignatieff was much more relaxed and confident speaking here today then I’ve seen him on TV before, or even back at the 2006 Liberal Convention, which I was a blogging observer at. He wasn’t as “stilted” when speaking this time. I was also appreciative as a policy person that he did mention some key planks and specifics. Not only was he pointing out why he thinks the Conservatives and Harper are taking Canada the wrong way; he pointed out what he’d do as an alternative – in a few areas anyhow. I hope that gets expanded, because I do agree with the Star’s editorial in the Sunday paper; Ignatieff and the Liberals do need to spell out alternate policies, and if today was any indication, they’re at least going to do some of that. The more, the better, in my view.

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