President's Blog: Taking the Lead at the 2017 Manning Centre Conference

I attended the Manning Centre conference in Ottawa last Thursday through Saturday in Ottawa. It was great to see so many old friends and colleagues and to attend so many interesting seminars. The theme of the conference was "Take the Lead" which was in reference to the conservative movement needing to get back to sound policies and being able to grow the party under the shadow of PM Trudeau and his so called "sunny ways."

Panel sessions on digital media, carbon tax, and conservatism in Alberta were just a few of the highlights. Mark Steyn taped his show live to finish the convention and he was spectacular as usual. His deliberation on the fact that free speech is truly in jeopardy and especially so on campuses across North America was a highlight of his show and it's always a treat to hear how he balances serious, sobering messages with levity and a tremendous sense of humour. 

At the conference a year ago I had attended a seminar put on by NationBuilder. After hearing the details about the platform that they have and the amazing data gathering and content software, I approached Peter Wrinch after the seminar and said that was something that the National Citizens Coalition needed to pursue.

To make a long story short, our new web site went live the week before the conference. It has been a great success so far but there's a lot still to learn of the never ending possibilities that NationBuilder provides to truly grow the NCC "nation." Peter was kind enough to ask me to speak at the seminar this year and talk about how the partnership with them has worked and how it could benefit others. I really enjoyed that talk and the conversations with several people after the seminar.

The highlight of the conference was the Conservative Party leadership debate. It was tough to do with 14 candidates but the Manning Centre smartly split it into 4 groups. This allowed for a much more focused debate. The debates were lively, focused and it gave the audience a chance to get to know the candidates.

The final polling results from those who voted as to their preference was as follows:

Maxime Bernier 32.4%

Andrew Scheer 19.6%

Kevin O'Leary and Michael Chong at 10.1%.

None of the remaining candidates polled above 10%. The debates also showed that there are far too many candidates who have zero chance to win the nomination (as we saw recently with the Republican party). Hopefully the field will narrow before the ballots are cast.

A great three days were had by all. Many thanks to Preston Manning, Dave Quist and the entire Manning team for a great conference and I look forward to returning next year.

Peter Coleman