This morning my husband and I had the privilege of attending one of those closed-door morning presser-announcements with Prime Minister Stephen Harper at Sport Systems Unlimited in Waterloo, Ontario.
How this started out was my husband being at the local campaign office yesterday when they were looking for a few supporters to be at the event, and our names went on the list.
As we arrived this morning I was concerned we might be a bit late, but as it turned out the whole schedule was delayed due to bad weather last night which forced the plane to land at Pearson in Toronto instead of Kitchener.
We had no problem putting in the extra hour or so waiting for the Prime Minister because there was a good supply of coffee and pastries, and lots of animated discussion.
Gradually the press arrived and set up. We recognized Terry Milewski, John Ivison, Craig Oliver, Bob Fife, and some local CTV personalities.
This was a rare opportunity to see some behind the scene action as to how these pressers are set up, with CPC officials milling about and performing their various duties, RCMP keeping an eye on things, and the general stage area getting set up with lights and a backdrop of factory workers who seemed quite enthused to be there. Some of them were standing for well over a half hour waiting for the PM to arrive but they all seemed in good spirits.
It was also interesting to observe Terry Milewski and Dimitri Soudas share a few lighthearted words. That exchange made me think that maybe we are too quick to judge those media types that always seem to be slagging our side. For them these campaigns must be such a exhausting ordeal – as they would be for the leaders as well. That was just a bit of personal insight for myself to try to be a bit less judgmental.
While we were waiting I heard a crack of thunder and said a quick prayer that any power outage would hold off til after the event was over.
O.K. I don’t want to make this an epic novel so I’ll cut to the chase. Finally Stephen Harper arrived to his campaign theme song Better Now by Collective Soul. Everyone was so excited – clapping and cheering. Laureen accompanied him and she looked radiant in her fashinable outfit and long black boots (photo here.)
Even though she and Prime Minister Harper couldn’t have had much sleep they both looked so fresh and energized. I won’t go into his speech because the press will have covered it but the main points were about assisting business by minimizing red tape and creating a favourable environment for small businesses to prosper and create job opportunities.
PM Harper warned about the inherent risks involved with a “collection of oppositions” in charge of our country.
Questions from the press followed and to me they seemed a little less snarky than unusual. The finally it was over and Prime Minster Harper and Laureen were milling about shaking hands. It was hard to get near him so I just hung back and chatted with a few people including John Ivison who is very, very tall in real life and quite charming.
People were heading out so my husband and I made our way towards the door but it was really teeming by now. I’m talking floods. We headed outside but a huge fork of lightening appeared out of nowhere followed immediately by a deafening crash of thunder. We felt like sitting ducks in those giant puddles so we ran over to an open doorway leading to a loading dock bay and huddled against the wall to wait it out.
It was then that we realized we were standing in the area where the Prime Minister would be exiting. Only folks with accreditation were around. Nobody told us to leave so we just stood there watching as Stephen and Laureen posed for pictures with the employees in the factory. Laureen then smiled and chatted to a few other people before rushing off in her stylish boots through the puddles to the waiting bus.
Prime Minister Harper eventually made his way to where we were standing and we shook hands. As he released mine I told him I would pray for him. He looked back at me, smiled, said “Thank you”, and asked if we wanted our pictures taken with him. Of course we agreed and thanked him. We were both still standing there stunned as he departed for the bus.
What a crazy morning. What an amazing time.
Oh yeah. One more thing. That same gigantic lightening flash had also caused the power to go off just after the event ended.