Martin showed passion again but rambled off script a few times. The notwithstanding clause thing was just...odd. It's obviously an attempt to change the channel and, in that respect, it likely will. The only question is what's on the other channel. I have a hard time believing this is the sort of idea that will rally Canadians behind Martin. Also, the "Quebec is a nation" stuff really annoyed me.
Harper didn't wow anyone and didn't steal the show, but he didn't have to. He was dull and uninspiring but, like he said in his closing, he's never been good at "spin or passion". He got backed up on the defensive a few times but Martin was the one needing the knock-out tonight and he certainly didn't get it.
As for Layton, I really liked him in the first English debate, but he just didn't do it for me tonight. Any time he's on stage with Martin and Harper, it always helps him. But tonight he looked overlooked and marginalized.
Duceppe was just bad tonight. He was almost incomprehensible at times and, while he got a few good one liners as usual, he was back on the defensive. Martin hit him hard and Paiken's questions really showed the logical gaps in the separatist arguments.
For a blow by blow recap, read on:
5:37 pm: We get a Tory ad on the pre-game show...followed by the "hands in my pockets" commercial. Two ads for the price of one.
5:55 pm: Mike Duffy is reporting that the Ekos poll had it 43-29...oh...my...god...
6:02 pm: Paul comes out on the tax cut issue.
6:04 pm: Paul's got the red tie, Stephen's got the blue tie.
6:06 pm: The first question is on the RCMP leak. It could be a long night...
Jack comes close to mentioning "Ed Broadbent" but doesn't. You just knew he wanted to.
6:12 pm: Now we get a CSL question...
6:15 pm: The moderator asks a pretty hard hitting question to Harper about the Reform party. I've got to say, I like these questions a lot more than the "what can you do to help my dog?" questions we saw last time.
6:20 pm: Paul wants to get rid of the notwithstanding clause? Holy bombshell batman! I guess this is the hail mary attempt of the campaign. According to section 38(1) of the constitution you need 7 provinces and 50% of the population for a constitutional amendment. Good luck with that! I'm sure Jean Charest will be on board!
UPDATE: It turns out Paul is only proposing a bill on this in the House, limited to federal jurisdiction. In that respect, I don't have a huge problem with it, but it still comes across looking like a hail mary.
6:28 pm: Paul says that electoral reform is "very important". Uh-oh. Not "very very important" Paul? It's obviously quite low on his priority list, despite the eight Ministers in charge of it.
6:31 pm: Duceppe has gone from saying "DEMON-cratic" to "DE-MO-cratic". Man, I love listening to this guy talk.
6:41 pm: I don't know if there's a fly buzzing around Paul's head, but he sure is flapping his hands around a lot.
6:43 pm: 43 minutes in and still no "Ed Broadbent" references by Jack. I'm also disappointed that no one has said "you had an Option" with respect to the Options Canada book.
6:45 pm: We get the question on swingers. YES!!! This is a great chance for Harper to pick up some of the swing vote. (ba-da-bing ba-da-boom)
6:48 pm: Gilles talks about "evolution". Way to lose the Western Canadian bible vote Gilles.
6:52 pm: Gilles now brings up the topic on everyone's mind tonight: the anti-scab law. Canadians are riveted.
6:54 pm: Jack mentions "results for people". BINGO!
7:03 pm: Martin confirms that aid to farmers is "very very important".
Jack tells a heart warming story: "I met with a 28 year old farmer and he showed me his balance sheet. I didn't understand it because I'm NDP..."
7:11 pm: Jack Layton hates it when people play political games. Obviously Jack hasn't had time to try out the new Prime Minister Forever.
7:13 pm: OMG! Harper is the first one to name drop Ed Broadbent. Jack's really going to have to lay it on during his next speech to make sure people know Ed's with him. My prediction: "Ed Broadbent, Ed Broadbent, Ed Broadbent, Matt Damon."
7:20 pm: I keep expecting someone to say "I am entitled to my entitlements" when the moderator says "you are entitled to thirty seconds".
7:24 pm: BOOM! Paiken rams Duceppe on the "not revisiting questions that have already been decided" question. I've got to say, I'm loving Paiken in this one, even if he looks like Screech from Saved by the Bell.
7:30 pm: "If Canada is divisible, is Quebec divisible?" This is going to be the Press Gallery Dinner all over then - Duceppe is SO not coming back to the English debate next year.
7:32 pm: Martin bitch slaps Duceppe around again, once again getting him the highlight of the night. A good moment for Paul. But Harper hits back on Martin for chickening out on the debate.
7:38 pm: Man, I wish JC was still around for this national unity stuff. None of this "there's a fiscal imbalance, Quebec is a nation" crap Paul is throwing around tonight. Boy, this guy will say anything to get elected: "I've always referred to Calgary as a city-state".
7:42 pm: Harper is smart not to bite on the majority question. He's got a grin on his face as he dodges the question.
7:47 pm: "I don't mean to leave you out of the discussion Mr. Layton, but I've never heard you say you were running to be PM, only to elect more NDP MPs". BHA! Layton responds that it's not the size of your caucus, it's how you use it. Layton then says "we get down and get the job done" - I think the swingers club question has Jack all riled up.
7:52 pm: Paul says Harper's child care plan would only give parents "a dollar a day after taxes". Holy shit - we really do need tax relief. Paul then says it would be "criminal" to turn away from child care. Word of advice - do not use the word "criminal" Paul.
7:56 pm: Harper's closing statement: "my strengths are not spin or passion" before detailing what I want to do. After Paul's tightly scripted closing statement, I think that will sound really genuine.