Saturday, 17 December 2011
Romeo Saganash in the 'Peg Part I: His Talk on his Vision
Some Winnipeggers - affiliated with Quebec MP Romeo Saganash's campaign - organized a Town Hall in the Manitoba Museum Auditorium on Friday. Before the candidate arrived, I spoke to a few people about the NDP Leadership Race thus far and Romeo Saganash's campaign. Apparently, the campaign is still "discussing" when to release his full platform, but it might be sometime in January 2012.
The crowd started off small - there were less than 10 people in the auditorium eight minutes before the scheduled start of the town hall - but grew to a size of three to five dozen. It was a diverse crowd, with at least one New Democrat who backed Thomas Mulcair.
A former Conservative Party candidate-turn New Democrat* introduced him. This man used to be his boss for a short period of time, but Romeo Saganash quickly rose to be his boss. The man now lives in Winnipeg and does some teaching for Red River College.
Saganash arrived on-stage and gave a pretty inspirational speech on his vision for Canada. Central to it was the idea of reconciliation to solve various social problems facing the nation, usually tying into the consensus-building role he's played as a diplomat. As in the campaign literature, his role as a negotiator for revenue-sharing deals between the Cree and Resource companies and for the UN Charter on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples were emphasized. He talked more generally about the need for First Nations economic development - along the lines of his Cree-Quebec deals - across Canada. Other areas he touched on were the growing economic inequalities in this country, his solidarity with the Occupy Movement, the need to reconcile the rural-urban divide, the folly of Harper's dumb on crime strategy**, and the danger of Harper's wedge-issue politics. Regaining respect for Canada on the international stage via collaborative strategies to address issues like Climate Change was another key point.
The talk was well-received, with tremendous applause from audience members. The skill with which Saganash related every problem to the need for reconciliation was superb, as was his ability to highlight the usefulness of his diplomatic experience.
After the talk came the questions. They were varied yet connected by their relevance to key Canadian social democratic values. Inequality, the Canadian Wheat Board, social housing, corporate power and First Nations land rights were some specific issues audience members raised questions about. Romeo Saganash's detailed answers to how he'd address these issues will be the subject of upcoming posts in this series.
*A fact Saganash much alluded to when discussing the importance of convincing former Conservatives to vote NDP is to forming government.
**He didn't exactly use those words, but made it clear that so-called "tough on crime" legislation is ineffective.