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Conservatives kick-off convention

Peter MacKay addresses delegates to the Conservative Party of Canada policy convention. Photo by Gordon Rennie, Special to

Peter MacKay addresses delegates to the Conservative Party of Canada policy convention. Photo by Gordon Rennie, Special to

North Bay resident Gordon Rennie is part of a city contingent attending the federal Conservative Party Convention in Montreal.

Rennie will be filing reports from the convention and here is his first dispatch:

Montreal- The Conservative Party of Canada kicked-off its
National Policy Convention in Montreal Thursday night as more than 2,000 delegates welcomed party leader Stephen Harper with thunderous applause.

The evening included speeches from Peter MacKay, MP for Central Nova, and John Baird, MPP for Nepean-Carleton.

MacKay, co-founder of the Conservative Party, began his remarks by highlighting the strong contingent of youth at the convention.

"We are here, we are united, we are strong."

He then proceeded to outline why Canada needs a change in Ottawa.

MacKay also spoke about the next federal election.

"Canadians will ask two questions, one being 'have the
Liberals earned the right to govern?'"

He said the Liberals had not, pointing to the the sponsorship scandal, devastation of softwood lumber and
agriculture industries as zero progress is made in reopening the US border, ongoing health care chaos, Canada's under-supported military and declining standard of

MacKay commented on the need for the Conservative Party to better communicate its policies and convictions to voters.

"Let us never again let another political party define us".

The second question he posed was, "Are Conservatives ready to govern?"

To that question he provided a firm "yes," outlining the depth of experience of the Conservative Caucus, the grassroots input from the membership and party policies and
priorities that speak to the most pressing concerns of Canadians today.

Baird pointed out the continuing legacy of Mike Harris in
Conservative politics as a leader who said what he would do and kept his word in contrast the current Liberal governments in Ottawa and Queen's Park.

Speaking to what he called the contempt for the priorities and values of voters shown by both Dalton McGuinty
and Paul Martin, Baird sai government can be a powerful force for change.

"But sometimes the best the government can do, is do no harm. We must never elevate government beyond the electorate or morality itself."

Baird continued to develop his theme that it was time for change in government.

"Martin and McGuinty spend taxpayers money as though it was their own. Conservatives believe government is the servant of the people and not it's master," Baird said.

"If you believe in family, freedom, and accountability, you are already a Conservative. Come home."

The convention resumes today when delegates will debate and vote on proposed policy resolutions submitted by local riding associations. Tonight Stephen Harper will address the convention before delegates cast ballots on whether to
request a leadership review and also to vote for members of the party's national council.