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Federal NDP leadership race hits Vancouver: Live blog

Nine candidates are in Vancouver vying to replace the late Jack Layton. The Vancouver Observer brings you on to the convention floor and into the campaign pubs.

Photos from the B.C. NDP convention and federal leadership race, by David P. Ball.

Welcome to the Vancouver Observer's live-blog from the B.C. NDP convention this weekend, where nine federal leadership candidates are vying for much-needed support in this province. (For background, see our NDP leadership race explainer).

Check back often for updates.


Sunday, Dec. 11, 10:30 a.m.: NDP interim leader Nicole Turmel just finished addressing the B.C. NDP audience. She's receiving a massive standing ovation, and rhythmic clapping as she chants the party's initials.

"This has been a very difficult period," said Adrian Dix, leader of the B.C. NDP, refering to the death of Jack Layton. "And these moments speak to who we are as people. On behalf of everyone here, we want to say thank you for the work you're doing."

Here's a few key bits of what Turmel said:

"We have reason to mourn. We have lost our friend and our leader, Jack Layton," she said. "New Democrats will never forget, and Canadians will never forget.

"But I can tell you, the same energy I've seen coast to coast – the commitment to bring real change to Canada – I know Jack Layton's spirit lives in all of us. I know that this dream for a better Canada is closer than ever. I know that united together, New Democrats are going to make that dream a reality -- for Jack and for all of those before us -- to build this tremendous movement in their names. We won't let anything stand in our way."

She referred to growing economic inequality in Canada, particularly in B.C.:

"Friends, for too long across the country and here in B.C., Liberals and Conservative governments have turned their backs on everyday families," she said. "The result: declining equality here in B.C. and across Canada."

"Time and time again, well-connected insiders are getting all the breaks, as families work harder than ever just to keep from falling behind. It has to change -- and change is coming. I can feel it in the air."

And in some of her strongest statements, she took on Conservative positions on climate change (where Canada refused to endorse a global treaty at the UN climate conference yesterday), and suggested that climate inaction is destroying the country's economy, not simply a side-concern or ethical issue.

"Climate change is a serious threat to Canadian families," she said. "Future generations are depending on us, and Conservative inaction is killing Canadian jobs.

"The rest of the world is moving forward on climate change, on building a sustainable energy economy. Instead of being a leader under Harper, Canada is being left behind. Shame. Our European trading partners are shutting the door on Canadian energy. We won't let Canada become an embarassment on the world stage."

She also attacked Harper's response the housing crisis in Attawapaskat First Nation, where the community's finances were seized and turned over to a third-party private consultation, whom the band was ordered to pay $1,300 a day:

"The Prime Minister's first response to this humanitarian crisis was to send in a consultant with a box of donuts," she said. "It is shameful – and it is happening right here in Canada.

"He should go to Attawapaskat himself, meet the good people who live there and work for positive solutions. That's what I did, and that's what New Democrats are doing – because in our Canada, we don't turn our back on Can citieiens in their time of need. That m, my firends, is the very definition of Canadian leadership."


7:30 p.m. (David): Some thoughts as I talked to many people from the audience after the debate: 

Many commented that Topp made the 'Blunder of the Night' when he ignored the time-keeper and continued his prerehearsed pitch (from the night before) in his opening speech, right off the bat. Several audience members actually booed him off stage (admittedly, he'd also been cheered simply for starting to speak) and his style seemed less spontaneous than Mulcair's charismatic, natural manner. However, Mulcair's biography, read by the moderator, seemed to attract interruptions (heckles?) from one side of the room, though it was not clear about what; he was later interrupted several times during one speech.

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