There was lots of smiling, lots of hand shaking, and lots of applause.

But this year's annual general meeting of the provincial Tories at the Telus Convention Centre wasn't just a love-in.

Several controversial resolutions were proposed -- among them, scrapping part of the government hate crimes legislation.

Members of an Edmonton constituency said right now, the laws cater to people who are easily offended and restrict what other people can say.

"I think we're all concerned with maximizing opportunities for freedom of speech. We have to balance that with people who are vulnerable," says Fred Horne, MLA for Edmonton-Rutherford.

In the end, that resolution was defeated and the legislation remains changed.

Another resolution, to allow union members to refuse to pay dues that would be directed to political causes, raised an even bigger stink.

Dozens of people, apparently union members, bought party memberships specifically for that vote and defeated the motion much to the dismay of many long-time party members.

Meanwhile, members of the PC youth took the premier to task for the coming distracted driving legislation, saying it unfairly targets young people.

Shantel shurb_beach/pc youth

"The act of talking on your cell phone without endangering anyone around should not be an offence," says Shantel Shurb-Beach of the PC youth.

She says her party is ignoring all the dangerous habits that existed before hand-held technology,

"If you think about it, smokers are constantly driving with one hand on the wheel but they are not included in the legislation. There is just a lot of holes."

No changes can be made without being signed off by the premier, but Premier Ed Stelmach said he's happy to take direction from the 1,500 people here this weekend.

"Everybody wants an opinion from the premier. My role is to look at what comes from the grassroots, discussing the dialogue at the end of the day. The leader has to respond," he says.

The premier also unofficially announced that the next election will take place in March 2012 and that he wants candidates in place by June.