This weekend the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party gathered for its annual convention.  With 1700 delegates, it was the second biggest convention in the history of the party and the largest one since the party has been in opposition.

The convention highlight was, without a doubt, Leader Tim Hudak’s address to the convention on Saturday afternoon. He electrified the crowd with what most convention delegates confessed was the best speech he has ever delivered.  In it, he unveiled “changebook”, the party’s platform for the 2011 election.

Hudak outlined the cornerstones of changebook in his speech, before the document was released to delegates and media the following day.  The platform was extremely well received by all of those in attendance.  It also accomplished a critical feat: the party sent every one of the 1700 attendees back to their riding excited and ready to work hard in the run up to the election in October.

Different than conventions past, this weekend’s meeting was almost exclusively  focused on election readiness, and delegates were booked in back to back confidential campaign training sessions, on everything from social media, targeting vote to tour and advance and everything in between.  The convention also featured 95 nominated PC candidates, a series of federal cabinet ministers and MPs, and the always popular former premiers, Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.

The convention also showcased a new, younger generation of leadership within the PC Party.   There was a real energy in the air and one thing that was clear to all in attendance is that this campaign team is not afraid to do politics differently and it seems to be working.  The main message that delegates left the weekend with is that the Ontario PC Party is ready to run and ready to win!

Patrick Harris is a Senior Public Affairs Consultant in the Toronto office of Hill+Knowlton. He has spent time at both Queen’s Park, working for the Leader of the Opposition, and on Parliament Hill, in the office of the Minister of Industry.