Conservatives celebrate victory with humour, barbs

Conservatives meeting in Ottawa this weekend kicked off their gathering by celebrating Prime Minister Stephen Harper's majority victory in the May 2 federal election.
As former Conservative minister Stockwell Day looks on his wife Valerie Day blows a kiss to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left foreground, during the opening the Conservative convention June 9, 2011 in Ottawa. Day's sign poked fun at a protest by a Senate page during the throne speech last week. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The Conservative Party won its first majority under Stephen Harper because Conservative values are Canadian values, Jason Kenney told party delegates in a speech Thursday night that celebrated last month's win.

Recapping the election, Kenney said Canadians of all backgrounds are drawn to the party's small-c conservative values.

"They see in our beliefs and priorities the highest aspirations of Canadians," Kenney said. "We don't think only of our rights; we are mindful always of our responsibilities."

"We don't mistake relativism for tolerance, and we're not afraid to call a barbaric cultural practice what it is," he said.

'It was helpful that our adversaries were focused on the obsessions of the chattering classes — like Taliban prisoners — rather than the practical bread-and-butter concerns of hard-working families.'—Immigration Minister Jason Kenney

Kenney says the party seized the opportunity to govern, kept voters' trust and made Canada as strong and free as it can be.

Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin cracked a few jokes at the NDP's expense, noting her co-emcee, Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, knows where his Quebec riding is and is old enough to go for a drink later.

Quebec voters sent a handful of MPs to the House of Commons who are in their early 20s and didn't live in their ridings.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a front-row seat for the opening, flanked by smiling MPs.

Kenney, speaking to delegates about the factors leading to the win, said the Conservatives were helped in the spring campaign by other parties focusing on issues he said Canadians don't care about.

"Of course, it was helpful that our adversaries were focused on the obsessions of the chattering classes – like Taliban prisoners — rather than the practical bread-and-butter concerns of hard-working families."

Former cabinet minister Stockwell Day, who retired this spring, gave the keynote address. He urged the party to be compassionate while remembering its values.

He praised Ruth Ellen Brosseau, an NDP MP who worked as a pub manager before she was elected amid controversy over the fact that she vacationed during the campaign and had never set foot in her Quebec riding. Day says she's working hard to get ahead.

"She's a single mom ... She should be applauded," he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is greeted by Conservative delegates at the party's national convention in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
He warned party supporters to be on the alert for the NDP's strategy of finding a Canadian who's suffering — "really suffering, and we need to have compassion for that" — and making the case that the Tories should create expensive programs to help.

"You don't take care of people in need by taking prosperity away from everyone else," he said.

Day also called on the media to be nicer.

"It is not a sign of intellectual weakness if you report good news," he said to loud applause.

Harper is due to speak to the convention delegates on Friday night.

Among other things, the delegates will discuss a proposal to change how future leaders are chosen. 

LIVE BLOG: Convention coverage, Day 2