I grabbed the picture from Garth's post he has up about the Whitby Town Hall. Off the top, I agree entirely with this sentiment:
I am delighted my enthusiasm for Town Halls is spreading. To my mind there is no better way for an MP to interact with people than in a small group, close to their homes, in a frank give-and-take session in which political spin and bullshit are left in the briefcase in the car. Sadly, too few government MPs do this, depriving people of a chance to instruct their elected rep in what it is they expect from them.
The evening got underway with a Garth's presentation on how he ended up in the Liberal caucus, and concluded the presentation by attacking the Conservative Party on abandoning progressive conservative values as well as conservative values in general. I would have liked for him to stay around a bit longer, but that's okay.
Next up was John McCallum. I must say, Mr. McCallum does a pretty good impression of Stephen Harper's impression of John McCallum :-) . It was half way through John McCallum's speech that I realized the tact for this town hall. The Liberals were going to attack the Conservative Party on abandoning progressive conservatism - something that strikes a chord with me, and with probably a lot of people in the town of Whitby. Mr. McCallum spoke on budget ineptitude and poor judgment in taxation. It flowed nicely from Mr. Turner's lead up.
One thing did strike me though, was John McCallum's insistence on "government's keeping promises once elected." That was the best near condemnation of Dalton McGuinty, I've ever heard.
Then Mr. McCallum turned it over to Brent Fullard of the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors (CAITI).
Now, I promised to explain the title of this post. Mr. McCallum when introducing Mr. Fullard indicated that we may have seen the billboards CAITI had put up - those "beautiful billboards of great size~!". I get what you mean, if only slightly awkwardly delivered.
The interesting part of Mr. Fullard's presentation was the notion of "tax leakage as a myth" on income trusts. According to CAITI, there is no tax leakage as taxes are paid by the retirement account investors [PDF]. It was an interesting point.
Derek Lee, the chair, indicated not all of tonight should entirely be about income trusts. With that, John McKay spoke next about student grants and students in his riding.
Turning the comments over to the floor, I half expected comments of the "I @#$%$ Hate Conservatives, I Heart Liberals variety" but that didn't entirely happen (it did in spots, but not the entire evening). The first comment was from a gentleman (I think from Newfoundland) who expressed deep disappointment with governments, both Liberal and Conservative, for attacking Atlantic Canada. Income trusts were heavily discussed as was Afghanistan and the Status of Women.
Now, I held no delusions that this was a non-partisan event. The crowd was decidedly Liberal, or in the least, anti-Conservative (the president of the Whitby-Oshawa Liberal riding association was credited with helping to organize the event).
That said, I did find the presentation was tailored in such a way that it could have been truly held as a non-partisan event - Garth Turner's presentation was humourous and to the point, John McCallum spoke often, seemingly to answer the most questions, and he did so confidently, Maria Minna spoke about the status of women with conviction and she even offered to hold one of the failing microphones to hear a question, Carolyn Bennett also spoke about her trip to Afghanistan. I was most impressed by Ken Dryden, who when answering, answered directly and cut to the chase - I liked that.
To go back to Garth's summation, I did find the evening frank and unscripted and I didn't get the feeling that this was just a Liberal love-in.
For the first time ever, the thought of voting Liberal in the next federal election did cross my mind which is, I guess, the point. You guys just now need to convince me that you really mean it.