Conservatives get down to work of renewal

On today's agenda at the convention: shop talk and party finances, same sex marriage

    VANCOUVER — Thousands of Conservatives have bid farewell to former leader Stephen Harper and now get down to the work of renewing their party.

    The first full day of the Tories’ convention will feature intensive debate on issues ranging from whether to drop the current policy opposing same sex marriage to retooling the way the party itself is run.

    There will also be a session on what exactly happened last fall when the Tories saw themselves reduced to Opposition after a gruelling 11-week election campaign.

    In his remarks to the convention Thursday night, Harper made little mention of the campaign, saying it wasn’t time to linger on the past.

    He says the party is in good shape and must remain united and strong in the years leading up the next election.

    Delegates will hear this morning about the party’s financial shape with a session on the state of party coffers.

    Harper noted the strong work of the Conservative Fund in his remarks, lauding its efforts to focus on raising money from the grassroots.

    But among the issues party members are looking to hash out is how that money is managed, with some grumbling about a lack of oversight and not enough money being sent to riding associations.

    While the political shop talk is the reason for the three-day convention in B.C., it’s also a place for leadership hopefuls to start amassing support for their own gruelling campaigns.

    The vote for who will replace interim leader Rona Ambrose is set for 2017 and there are already three candidates officially in the race.

    But several others are thinking about joining them and many are making the rounds of the convention floor.