Thoughts from the Tory Convention

I spent a good part of last week, including the weekend, at the Tory convention surrounded by conservatives from across the country. Every variety of conservative with strong, passionate views on fiscal and social issues shared the hall of the BMO Centre in Calgary to debate the best ideas to put forward in anticipation of the next federal election. It's an energizing three days that makes me believe we are on the right path once again.

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The Conservative is strengthened every time we meet at these conventions. Back in 2005 I was a Quebec delegate at the Montreal convention and I found the experience an amazing introduction to Canadian politics - one that no textbook, seminar or biography could adequately convey. Calgary 2013 was no exception.

The debates were passionate in the workshops. Direct in their content while being cordial and respectful of the other side. We, the grassroots, got to voice our views and set party policy on issues such as elaborating on our balanced budget legislation principle, condemning sex-selective abortions that discriminate against girls, and supporting changes to foreign credential recognition. That's why folks keep joining the Conservative Party in large numbers and keep getting involved, because our voice counts.

Politics is definitely a team sport and its best exemplified by every member's participation when they select the delegates who will go on to the convention to represent their local association. I was honoured to be selected this year to represent the Conservative Party members in Calgary Southeast and to be their voice at the convention. I've talked to probably hundreds of our members in the local riding in the past few years and have picked up the pulse of the issues they care most about.

The convention reminded me that what makes the Conservative Party such a strong political machine is the membership, the base. At the convention, it wasn't the MPs leading the debate, it was the members. While the MPs voiced their views on certain issues, they did so from a position of equality with everyone else. No special treatment, no special speaking time. We did not just empower our members to determine the course until the next election; we double downed and bet on them rightly knowing that they are the regular, every day Canadians who work hard, live by the rules, and expect others to do the same.