Not with a bang but a barrage of logistical details: Liveblogging the (official) launch of Liberal Leadership 2.0

We already know that the Liberal convention will go ahead next May in Vancouver as originally scheduled, with a $90,000 entry fee for leadership candidates and a $1.5 million cap on spending. So what else is there to decide?

According to yesterday’s release, the party still has to “establish membership rules, construct several committees and make key appointments intended to ensure the success of the Leadership contest and Convention” which is why ITQ will be spending her Sunday afternoon at the Lord Elgin, waiting for the national executive to wrap up their meeting. Check back around 1pm for full coverage.

12:30:08 PM
Greetings from the depths of an altogether too comfy couch in the lobby of the Lord Elgin, where the combination of soothing chamber music and a roaring fire is threatening to inspire an impromptu – and most untimely – afternoon nap. As usual, I’m early, which means that the press conference itself will probably be late; that’s pretty much how it usually works – if I’m early, they’re late and vice versa. Well, except for events involving the PM, which are invariably late.

We’re here, as noted above, to find out the finer details of the Liberal leadership convention that will be held next May, and by we, I mean the media, although I haven’t actually seen any other reporters yet. The evidence of their presence is all around — satellite trucks, tripods, cameras and, of course, miles and miles of cable, which are scattered through the lobby, seemingly unattended; a ghost scrum.

At least there’s a Starbucks nearby – of course there is, right? – that is still selling pumpkin scones.

12:44:17 PM
Well, apparently, I’m even earlier than I thought — the press conference has been bumped until 1:30. All the more time to enjoy the scones!

1:00:53 PM
If it hadn’t been delayed, the press conference would be underway right now!

1:15:32 PM

I can’t report much, but I can state that there is a whole lot of milling going on right now, I can report. I always feel sorry for hotels that wind up hosting media events like this — we have a tendency to sprawl out beyond the borders of the official venue.

1:15:42 PM
This is excellent preparation for tomorrow’s First Ministers’ Meeting, of course. There’s no other Canadian political event that involves as much standing around as an FMM. (Yes, ITQ will be there, too.)

1:29:01 PM
Five minute warning! Five minutes until party president Doug Ferguson gives us a four minute statement, and then opens the floor to questions.

1:30:08 PM
And by five minutes, they apparently meant five seconds, because here he is – and he starts by acknowledging how relieved he was to hear about Mellissa Fung’s release.

With that out of the way, he congratulates his colleagues for “putting aside their differences” and working “cordially and civilly” during today’s meeting.

That sounds far more interesting than what we’re most likely about to hear, doesn’t it? Which differences, and involving which colleagues, specifically? I bet we’re not going to find that out during the formal presser.

1:34:04 PM
Okay, after a brief recap of yesterday’s announcement, he gets down to the details: the delegate selection “superweekend” is from March 6-10, 2009, and members must have been members since Friday, February 6th at 5pm local time and if that sounds insanely exact, that’s because past experience has taught them that you can never be *too* exact when it comes to the instamember dillemma.

“See you in Vancouver,” he says before opening the floor to questions.

1:37:05 PM
First question – how many people is he expecting? Roughly 8,000 delegates, plus media, observers and assorted hangers on – and they needed a venue that was capable of hosting that many people, if necessary.

1:37:54 PM
Did they discuss the suggestion from the Quebec wing that would ban candidates with outstanding debts from the last race? Yes, but they decided against it, Ferguson says.

The party will also provide more “services” to candidates, like selling tickets for debates, he notes.

1:38:58 PM
“If you raise a very large sum of money, will it reduce the entry fee,” wonders one reporter. No; it is only money raised for the Victory Fund that will do that. The ten percent levy is a flat rate.

1:40:33 PM
More questions about the choice of locale – wouldn’t it have been better for the party, financially speaking, to pick a cheaper, more central spot? No, not really is the upshot – the site they looked at in Toronto would have required delegates to be bussed back and forth from hotels, for example.

“There was never any discussion about keeping people out,” he says, in response to a question about the mood during the weekend’s meeting.

1:42:26 PM
Jane Taber wonders how they’ll handle the travel costs for, say, Newfoundland delegates – the party will be subsidizing some of the travel, he notes, and people will be “pleasantly surprised” by the final price.

1:43:18 PM
And – that’s it. Wow, that was a lot of waiting around for a relatively brief news conference.

1:45:02 PM
The party’s executive director is now holding a miniscrum – mostly to clarify the technical details around the cost, particularly for travel. The tentative cost of attending the convention, by the way, is $825.00.

1:47:31 PM
And that’s really that – the cameras are being packed up and the reporters are streaming out, and ITQ is going to join them. I’ll report back later if I hear anything else, but in the meantime, enjoy the rest of what looks like a lovely Saturday afternoon, y’all.

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