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Two solitudes: The Conservative Convention and the fight for democracy

It was a lively final day inside and outside the Conservative Party convention in Calgary.

Calgary MP Michelle Rempel ran a tight ship to move both the Constitution and Policy plenaries along.

There was hardly a dull moment as motions from Saturday's Constitution and Policy meetings were brought forward for vote. One was a motion from Mark Warawa (MP Langley) officially condemning discrimination against girls occurring through gender selective pregnancy termination. Dozens of protesters lined the streets leading into the convention in favour of the motion. The motion carried.

Other adopted motions carried included one opposing euthanasia, two anti-union motions, and one establishing distinct budgets for the TV and radio broadcast functions of the CBC. A motion on strategic northern investment passed without a single 'no' speaker.

Finally, the Long Term Energy Framework easily passed, affirming that pipelines provide effective transportation of fossil fuels.

The mood inside the convention was focused and jovial, and often delegates applauded after motions were carried.

Beyond the gates of the Stampede grounds, however, the mood was less affable. Hundreds braved a snow storm and icy temperatures to show their dissatisfaction with this convention and government's agenda more broadly. The gathering was part of a three-day conference advocating for democracy, the environment, Aboriginal Treaty rights, and human rights.

Brigette Depape, an organizer with SHD.ca and the former 'rogue' Senate page said that hundreds had gathered to express their opposition to the Harper government's attacks on workers, unions, migrants, Indigenous people and youth. "The Conservative scandal is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Harper's wasteful spending...rather than on the services we value and investment in a green and just economy."

One of the speakers at today's event was Crystal Lameman, a member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation northeast of Edmonton. She lives on the front lines of the expansion of the oilsands and her community is fighting 17,000 Treaty violations on her nation's traditional hunting territory.

"It is unfair that this government is saddling the next generation with financial and ecological debts in the interest of the next election," said Lameman.

Jean Blackstock, a Calgary mother of four and grandmother from Calgary feels this week's convention has entirely skirted the issue of environmental protection and climate.

"I just find that [the Harper government] agenda is quite oppressive and depressing. I live in Alberta where I see the oilsands degrading the environment and no environmental regulation to stop them".

A born and raised Albertan she said, "I find it very sad the way things have gone in terms of resources in Canada and why we are selling out our resources to the highest bidder with no environmental discussion, no discussion of any sort whether we do actually want to sell our resources to all these people and leave nothing for our children except for pollution. I fear that our water and air are going to be polluted. What is going to be left for my children and grandchildren?"

Visiting both events today made apparent that the government's focus this weekend on job creation, economic stewardship and responsible resource development isn't being bought by everyone.

Chantal Chagnon, one of the organizers of the protest and series of events coinciding with the Conservative Party Convention said, "The current system is destroying the fabric of Canada. Everything that Canadians hold dear is being torn away from them."

This article originally appeared in The Huffington Post.

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