Manning Manifests: What to expect from Day One

Kady O’Malley previews the programme as Day One of the Manning Conference gets underway
Preston Manning looks on as Alberta Premier Jim Prentice (not pictured) speaks during the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa on Friday, March 6, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Preston Manning. (CP Photo)

Kady O’Malley will be joining Maclean’s to cover the Manning Conference, hosted by Canada’s leading thinktank for the right. She’ll be filing frequently over the course of the day—keep track at her Manning Manifests page, here. Watch the broadcast live all weekend, including the Conservative leadership debate, here.

Good morning, ManningFest enthusiasts, curiosity-seekers and anyone else with a hankering for a vicarious crawl through the biggest annual non-party-organized C/conservative gathering in Canada! As promised, I’ll be filing updates from the floor throughout the day.

Read the full programme here.

As mentioned in my previous bulletin, the unofficial Main Event, such as it is, will almost certainly be the Conservative leadership debate, which is slated to run from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT.

From what I’ve been able to gather thus far, the organizers have decided to get away from the basic vanilla Wall o’ Lecterns, and will divvy up the fourteen candidates into smaller groups, who will then be given a specific question or topic which they will then mull over on stage, to the (presumable) enlightenment and/or entertainment of all.

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Do not, however, think for a moment that this is just a sneaky way of nudging the – oh, it feels a bit harsh to call them “no-hopers”, so let’s go with “seemingly less well-positioned to win” – off to the side in favour of the likely frontrunners: the mini-cluster slots will be assigned by a draw to be held later today. So, in theory, Kevin O’Leary could end up in a debate pod with Brad Trost and Rick Peterson – or, alternately, face off against Kellie Leitch and Maxime Bernier.

It’s all up to the gods of chance, so let’s cross our fingers that it leads to some intriguingly non-intuitive pairings.

Before those festivities get underway, however, there’s a full day of panel discussions and other traditional conference activities.

Here’s a quick rundown of the morning circuit:

  • Opening remarks from Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose teams up with former Reform Party leader (and Manning Centre founder and president) Preston Manning
  • Leading The Response to Islamic Extremism and its Ideology in Canada, an extended three-hour conversation with terrorism expert Thomas Quiggan and activist Raheel Raza, moderated by Rick Epstein
  • Brexit campaigner Matthew Elliott, former Toronto City Councillor and mayoral candidate Doug Ford and Conservative organizer Georgeanne Burke consider “the rise in anti-establishment sentiment” at Down With The Elites?

Other sessions include: The Millennial Mindset, which will offer “a look into public research on millennial views towards politics,” The Impact of Debt featuring Conservative MP Gerard Deltell and School Choice – Power to the Parents?

There’s also a “youth lunch” that will focus on “pushing back against the left on campus.”

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This afternoon Trump campaign speechwriter F. H. Buckley – who, I should note, is actually a) Canadian and b) no relation to the legendary William F. Buckley who founded the National Review – will share his thoughts on whether “Trumpism” can be exported to Canada – or, alternately, “is it already here?”

As I am. Alas, bound by the laws of physics and thus prevented from covering every single event from start to finish, I’ll do my best to at least pop into as many sessions as possible, and report back on the experience. Watch this space!

(Well, not this space, specifically and exclusively, but the general area. You know what I mean.)