Kady O’Malley at MacLean’s talks about her experience of the Manning Conference, an assembly of people on the Canadian right that did not seem overly invested in American-style populism.
This year, however, we may want to take a slightly more cautious approach in drawing sweeping conclusions based on what unfolded over the course of the now-concluded confab – or, at least, from the official programme.
While the speakers’ list and topics seemed to have been designed specifically to appeal to the Canadian wing of the alt-right movement that helped to sweep Donald Trump into the White House – there was even a keynote speech on whether “Trumpism” could be brought to Canada – there was scant evidence of a simmering populist rage amongst attendees. (Or, at least, any more of one than usual.)
There were, of course, exceptions: the two young men who so proudly showed off their matching Make America Great Again hats as they made the rounds in the atrium and posed for the TV cameras, for instance, or an overheard mention to “social justice warriors” in casual conversation.
They also had no trouble filling the main hall with a few hundred attendees already primed to gasp in collective horror during the discussion on “leading the response to Islamic extremism” or enthusiastically jeer at the idea of “trigger warnings” at the mini-symposium on campus censorship.
But after spending a few hours on the floor, it became clear that a sizeable number of attendees were primarily interested in the Conservative leadership debate, although they also appreciated the opportunity to socialize with like-minded souls from across the country.