Roundup: Manning and the Populists

It’s the Manning Centre conference here in Ottawa, which is the “conservative Woodstock,” as they say, and is pretty much were all of the small-c conservatives come to network, only this year, in the midst of the Trumpocalypse happening south of the border, the flavour of this year’s conference has changed, with much more pandering to the fringe elements, catering to overblown fears of Islamic terrorism and the kinds of populist demagoguery that are suddenly in vogue. Oh, and all fourteen Conservative leadership candidates are also there, and hey, they had a little debate, which allowed them a bit more freedom to actually debate in small groups, but most of it was still their canned talking points, so take it for what it’s worth.

As for conference programming, here’s Kady O’Malley’s recap of the first half including Preston Manning’s speech, and her assessment that fears of a Trumpist takeover appear to be more overblown, as many of the demagogic panels have had less than spectacular attendance. John Geddes recaps the moments of the leadership debate that had the biggest sparks. Geddes also has a conversation with Manning about populism and how it’s shaping debates right now.

Andrew Coyne warns Conservatives at the Manning Conference about the siren song of populist demagoguery. Chris Selley looks at that demagoguery up close in the panel on the “Islamist extremist menace” at the Conference, calling it bonkers. John Ivison looks at the dynamic Kevin O’Leary is bringing to the Conference and the race, and the outsized role he is starting to play, building an “Anyone but O’Leary” vibe. Paul Wells notes the changes in the Conference’s tenor over the years as a result of the political culture of followership, eager to imitate the perceived leaders of their pack.

Good reads:

  • The Main Estimates show that PCO is getting its highest funding in decades, but that’s also because they’re creating a youth secretariat.
  • Medical marijuana prescriptions are soaring, while doctors are getting tired of being the gatekeepers and sorting who is a genuine patient and who wants to get high.
  • The Department of Finance plans to use “dial-testing” polls to get immediate gut reactions to the federal budget.
  • David Akin’s look into the innovation file looks at where the deputy minister of Industry has been touring and meeting.
  • BuzzFeed has a really great explainer on the current spike in irregular refugee arrivals, that has some important context to consider.
  • New Brunswick, PEI and Quebec City are all trying to claim “birthplace of Confederation” labels in the run-up to Canada 150 celebrations.
  • The Royal Canadian Navy is looking to increase its use of drones aboard frigates in the next ten years.
  • Charlie Angus is now registered as an NDP leadership candidate, but has not formally announced yet.
  • The Tyee talks to Peter Julian about his leadership bid.
  • Kellie Leitch is now running ads on Brietbart, because she’s become that much of a cliché.
  • Erin O’Toole is calling for swifter, streamlined environmental assessments of projects (apparently not learning the lesson of the last government’s attempts).
  • Kevin O’Leary talks with iPolitics about his campaign, and that he quit using pot because it gives him the munchies and he’s trying to stay trim.
  • Colin Horgan looks at the problems of news consumption and polling and how that impacts on informed opinion.
  • Andrew Potter considers the issue of journalists who cross the floor to work on the political side.
  • Susan Delacourt contrasts Trudeau’s outward-looking futurism to Trump’s inward-looking nostalgia.

Odds and ends:

There are questions about Parliament looking to subject parliamentary journalists to background checks including journalists.

Scott Feschuk annotates Donald Trump’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference.