Sunday, October 15, 2006

Well that was Fun

This was, hands down, the most entertaining debate of the five we've seen in this leadership race. Here's the recap:

The show got started when a girl paraded by in a bikini carrying a sign (about income trusts? huh?)...better her than Bob Rae. Then we get an old guy with a microphone screaming something but, given that no one had any clue what his cause was, he really didn't make for a very effective protestor.

Women in Politics (Findlay, Dryden, Volpe)
Rick Mercer had a sketch called "the race for 5th place" on his show this week which I guess is what this debate was. Martha holds up the Globe "backroom boys" page as a sign of what's wrong. Dryden revealled that the best way to get to 50% women is to get to 35% first but, before this, 30% which, while being accurate, doesn't tell us a heck of a lot about how to do this.

Homeless & Poverty (Dion, Brison, Rae)
Rae talks about his record as Ontario Premier on social housing. Dion tells Rae "he can't have it both ways" which I imagine is some sort of attack on Rae's record. Rae gets fired up defending his record by saying "it's better to make mistakes out of caring for people" to which Dion retorts that Chretien and Martin had compassion while they were cutting programs.

Infrastructure (Kennedy, Iggy, Martha)
Gerard seems quite forceful today and puts a lot of passion in his voice. He talks about the gas tax and on the importance of Western initiatives like the Pacific Gateway. He later says government shouldn't just be about "cutting ribbons and cutting cheques" - you need to get tangible results. Iggy talks about rural Canada and the need to avoid gimmicky politics. Findlay concludes that the trio has been succesful in "making infrastructure sexy".

Environment (Dion, Dryden, Iggy)
Dion reminds people about the secondary costs of climate change and the health consequences which is good. Iggy mentions the carbon tax without actually calling it a carbon tax which shows he's learned a bit on how to handle the subject. Dion says we would have a carbon market had the Liberals been re-elected, and seems really upset that Ignatieff doesn't mention that. Ignatieff fires back, saying bluntly that "we didn't get it done". Dion jabs back with "this is unfair - you don't know what you speak about". At this point, I was just chewing my popcorn and sipping my beer, enjoying the show because this is ten times more entertaining than any of the other debates have been. Dryden then agrees with Ignatieff that "we didn't get it done".

Same Sex (Kennedy, Volpe, Brison)
The audience seems amused that Brison got the same sex question. Either way, this is a pretty easy question for Brison and Kennedy to score points on (although a bit more difficult for Volpe since the honest answer to "why did you vote for same sex marriage?" for him is: "to keep my Cabinet position"). Brison explains that it's important for the party to make decisions on principle rather than to be "dragged kicking and screaming by Supreme Court decisions" which is very good point. He then attacks Volpe, saying: "I've watched you give speeches against same sex marriage". Gerard sums it up nicely saying that human rights come ahead of making people feel comfortable.

Foreign Policy (Martha, Iggy, Rae)
I'd been praying all week that Kennedy would wind up with Ignatieff on the foreign policy question and this matchup is really a gift from God for Bob Rae. All three candidates open by blaming Harper for playing politics on the Afghanistan question and all say, to varying degrees, that we need to look at the mission and make sure we pay proper attention to rebuilding the country and providing humanitarian aid. It's interesting how the position Kennedy came out with in August has pretty much morphed into the universal Liberal Party position on this issue.

Then things get interesting. Bob calls it an "imperial mission" and cut Iggy off when Ignatieff tried to protest. Rae continues, saying that "we need to choose our words carefully" on foreign policy. Annoyed, Turner Ignatieff says that Rae's position is muddled and that "I had no option" "I don't know where you stand". Rae can barely believe the juicy gopher ball he's been served up and quips: "this from the man who's changed his mind on the Middle East three times this week". Ignatieff says Rae should know that's not his position since they've known each other for forty years (I guess they talked a lot about war crimes back in the U of T days).

Gun Registry (Brison, Dion, Dryden)
Dryden says he doesn't like guns and doesn't trust guns because "all of us are capable of doing really stupid things" (the man did just watch Ignatieff bring up Middle East flip flops after all). Brison does what he does best and attacks Harper. Dion points out that they all agree.

Culture and Communication (Kennedy, Volpe, Rae)
GK jokes about the Bob Rae skinny dipping sketch. Volpe leads off by saying he's the "wrong guy to ask about whether we should regulate press and media". Heh. Kennedy reminds people that we can't just focus on the big ticket items and need to look out for smaller cultural groups and to pay attention to projects outside of Toronto. Also points out that the Internet is really changing the way we look at culture, especially for young people.

Closing Remarks

Martha says "I wasn't running as a woman before...but now I am".

Dion says he's "proud to be a Liberal and it doesn't take a leadership race to say so". heh.

Kennedy says it's unfortunate that no one has talked about Liberal Party reform. Says that we need to be proud of the past but that it's essential that we reinvent ourselves and regain the trust of Canadians.

Dryden attacks Harper as "the great divider" then compares him to the Broad Street Bullies who were "wrong for hockey". After the Flyers had won two cups, he says the Habs roared back and "we won four straight". Given that the debate was in Toronto, I'm not sure this was the best story to use. Especially since the Leafs are pretty much the NDP in his analogy...

Brison says it's ridiculous that there wasn't a single question on the economy and he probably has a good point there.

Ignatieff says this was a wonderful debate and a great afternoon to be a Liberal. Goes into his "party of hope" speech similar to the one he gave in BC. Says the hall is full of dreams (and protestors).

Volpe says all of the candidates "talk of a great Canada, some as if they've just discovered it".

Rae, unlike Dryden, plays to the home crowd, congratulating Mats Sundin on his 500th goal.

General Thoughts

The media clip of the debate was, without a doubt, Rae's "this from the guy who's changed his position on the Middle East three times this week" line. Because of that, it's impossible not to call Rae the winner of this debate.

Ignatieff took a beating all night long and has got to be thankful that there won't be any more official debates between now and December.

Dion was definitely the most aggressive of the eight, attacking Rae and Ignatieff hard. He was also extremely defensive about the Liberal record and seemed a touch arrogant at times, especially with his "you don't know what you're talking about" line to Ignatieff. Personally, I wasn't very impressed with his performance but the CBC guys thought he was the best of the bunch tonight so I'm guessing the reviews will be mixed.

Kennedy, I thought, was really on today. I know I'm biased but I thought he was one of the best speakers in the debate, even if he won't get any memorable media sound bytes out of it (mainly since he didn't attack anyone). His closing statement was very concise and he also sounded good in the post debate scrum talking about party unity and the need to bury past feuds.

Brison was also one of the better speakers but that shouldn't be too surprising (although it leaves one to ponder why he only wound up in 7th place...). He also performed really well in the post-debate interviews, cracking a few funny one liners.

Dryden had a good closing but seemed almost invisible during the debate (which isn't easy for a man of his size).

Volpe was...himself.

Martha turned in a very solid performance and made people listen to her, which isn't easy when you only have 40 delegates.

UPDATE: You can find good recaps here, here and on pretty much every Liblog.

UPDATE deux: The Frog Lady has a wildly entertaining recap.


  • Wow, I missed it - but I feel like I saw it now!

    Seriously, those Volpe quips are brilliant. I don't think he's all that "bad" - he reminds me a lot of Chretien (mind, I don't have tv, so I'm going by read only on his remarks and can't always get his exact tone/attitude) in moments of wit.

    I've been most disappointed in Ignatieff this race - I used to like him. I almost feel bad for him taking that Rae retort.

    Agree fully with Brison's point about no-economy - seriously, we're talking SSM and "culture and communication" but not the economy? Ugh. Another example of a poorly run race.


    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 7:26 p.m.  

  • Yeah, Dion was scrappy, but he otherwise stayed focused on issues and policy - and here in the Winnipeg Liberal HQ he provoked quite a few affectionate laughs. I give him the win anyway.

    By Blogger James, at 7:53 p.m.  

  • I saw the debate and one phrase summarized the main clashes - 'anyone but Iggy'.

    - I could not believe he walked into that Rae trap by saying "I don't know where you stand" - that too on a question of foreign policy.

    - Dion's English was a concern, according to the CBC.

    - Kennedy should have gone after Ignatieff's record a bit harder, I think.

    - I was glad public transit got a commitment from the three when it was being discussed. I hope someone remembers this when the Liberals win, and Toronto gets more subway lines.

    By Blogger mezba, at 8:38 p.m.  

  • //At this point, I was just chewing my popcorn and sipping my beer, enjoying the show because this is ten times more entertaining than any of the other debates have been.//

    Are we to take it that you have a kid, and are putting Harper's child care credit to good use? -).-).

    By Blogger godot10, at 9:02 p.m.  

  • Anne McLellan was commenting for CTV and also seemed to think that Dion had done extremely well, though she also said that Rae and Iggy had not lost any ground in the debate. Also, I do not see where the criticism of Dion's english comes from. I don't speak a lick of french and I understood him perfectly. If Kennedy's french is as good as Dion's english then I don't think people should be criticizing him either.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:36 p.m.  

  • "A girl walks by in a bikini carrying a sign...Better her than Bob Rae. "

    You are so wrong there, CalgaryGrit. Carrying a sign is just what he needed to be doing on the Mercer Report.

    I loved Brison's "I played Hockey too."

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 10:07 p.m.  

  • Really? I thought Dion had the best performance, except for Martha of course. That said, there was no clear winner, but there was a clear loser...

    And in defence of that loser, Iggy said "That's all well and good [to choose words carefully] but you also have to know where you stand." I subtle difference but important I think.

    For none of the analysis and all the best quips, please drop by my place


    By Blogger Gavin Magrath, at 10:59 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 12:14 a.m.  

  • I am an MHF supporter so it was a good opportunity for me to see all the other candidates. I really hope she gets more support on the first ballot than delegate selections project.

    Having said that,this was my first real opportunity to look at the other candidates somewhat objectively. Not purely objectively because I do have some definite concerns about both Mr. Ignatieff and Mr. Rae.

    If vote totals hold, I'll have to be considering someone else other than MHF on the second ballot.

    Bob Rae conducted himself well today for the most part and improved a little in my estimation.

    Michael Ignatieff did not distinguish himself and did not seem deserving of the percentage of support he enjoys among selected delegates and ex-officio voters based on today's performance.

    I've been very disappointed in his performance this past week and that may have coloured my view somewhat.

    Today he seemed to be easily parried in debate.

    I liked what I saw in Stephane Dion. He did seem to be inspired and knowledgeable. I've always perceived him to lack ambition and passion so this was a pleasant change.

    His closing statement was excellent.

    Gerard Kennedy did not distinguish himself today. His performance was steady but unremmarkable.

    Scott Brison was humourous and accounted for himself very well in debate and discussion. I work in the business sector and wonder where he thinks he has expertise.

    Ken Dryden seemed ordinary in the debates but did a very emotional and impassioned closing speech.
    I did like his comments on guns and we are all unpredictable. I understood that very well.

    The way some candidates have put their ambition ahead of the best interests of the party caused me to empathize with Mr. Dryden on that point.

    All I can say about Joe Volpe is that I felt like I needed to take a shower each time he finished speaking. I felt dirty by association.

    I was proud of Martha and proud to be supporting her. She added a tone of civility to the debate and very much held her own in the discussions. She also made a strong closing statement.

    We all have our built-in filters and biases.

    I truly enjoyed the debate and burst out laughing a number of times, much to the concern of my family.

    If you didn't get a chance to see it, try to catch it on CPAC. I think it would be worth it.

    By the way, CPAC also does rebroadcasts from their website so you don't need a TV

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 12:20 a.m.  

  • Down and Out, I'm not a Liberal and so have no say, but I like Martha a lot and will be really, really disappointed in the "we need more women in politics!" Liberals if she doesn't do better on the first ballot than Super Weekend. I think she is really cool. I don't even agree with her on foreign policy, which I think is big, but I like that woman's bearing - she seems honest and real.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 12:33 a.m.  

  • Scott Brison started a business in college and worked as an investment banker.

    I got the impression he was running for finance minister.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 12:49 a.m.  

  • I guess I view investment bankers as parasites.

    When you you are actually producing products, employing people, selling and marketing it's a different game and government policy changes directly affect us.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 1:01 a.m.  

  • When it comes down to it, on the issue of Canada, both Rae and Ignatieff are NOT Trudeau Liberals.

    Rae was part of Mulroney's Meech and Charlottetown process which both the Canadian people and Pierre Trudeau rejected, and which led to the formation of the BQ, and near defeat in the second Quebec referendum.

    Ignatieff has proposed to repeat Mulroney's error, which only what someone who chose to be "anywhere but here" when Canada was at stake could make.

    That these are the two best candidates the Rosedale/Forest Hill and Westmount (i.e. the OLD Liberal Party) can throw up shows how far out of touch the OLD Liberal Party is.

    Plus, Stephen Harper tags along with the notion of American empire because of his foreign policy inexperience and naivete.

    What is Ignatieff's excuse? He is a foreign policy expert and goes along the notion of American empire.

    Neoimperialism (in the service of the American empire) has seduced both the neoconservatives and the progressives. The neoconservatives call it "preemptive war". The progressives call it "the responsibility to protect". Both amount to the use of Western armies to impose the will of the American Empire.

    Bob Rae has been fundamentally massively wrong twice, on Charlottetown, and on managing Ontario's economy when he was premier. And well, then there is the matter of Rae's BC campaign.

    Plus, the party will not reform and renew itself if either of these two candidates of the OLD Liberal Party get elected leader.

    By Blogger godot10, at 2:19 a.m.  

  • Would have to agree with what Paul Wells said about Dion. To defend budget cuts as compassionate is a little...well not a great thing to say.

    If Dion is going to defend the Liberal record he should go on about making difficult decisions to prevent the nation from going bankrupt perhaps?

    The budget cuts were anything but compassionate, arguably tough medicine, but not compassionate.

    By Blogger bza, at 4:10 a.m.  

  • "When you you are actually producing products, employing people, selling and marketing it's a different game and government policy changes directly affect us."

    Well the business he started (renting bar fridges to dorm residents) was a service, but it spread across the country so employing people, selling and marketing were involved.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 8:13 a.m.  

  • 1. Michelle I. and JBG, I'm going to guess that at least a few ex officio delegates, who can vote for whomever they want, will vote for MHF on the first ballot. She has run a pretty good campaign, and given that she is the only woman left, at least a few ex officios will want to ensure that she gets a half-decent total. It won't be enough to push her into 7th place, but it'll be something. The ex officios, like everyone else, know that this thing isn't going to end on one ballot, so they can afford to give MHF a vote the first time 'round before going with their preferred choice thereafter.

    2. The only thing wrong with the Bob Rae quip, at least insofar as it was reported in the media, was that they showed Rae chuckling to himself in this self-satisfied way right after he said it. Sometimes, you don't want to be seen laughing at your own jokes, you know?

    By Blogger Jason Hickman, at 8:56 a.m.  

  • It's those ex-officio votes that I'm talking about, right on JH! Again, I'll be really let down if a lot of them don't go to her on first ballot - even if it's just symbolic, I think the Liberals NEED to symbolize some support for an excellent candidate not getting enough recognition. It's great to have a woman in the race, but not if she has to come in last place.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:03 a.m.  

  • Despite being a long time supporter of the Liberal party, I consider myself a counter culture Liberal rather than a band wagon Liberal.

    The band wagon people all seem to be in the Rae and Ignatieff camps.

    The mentality is sign up as many supporters as possible, then publicize them to demonstrate that the preferred canadidate has the best chance of winning and tell others the should join too so they can be on "the winning team".

    These candidates might be new to the party but their campaigns aren't doing things differently.

    Martha talks about renewal and does things differently.

    I hope that the undeclared and the ex-officio people notice that and remember that on the first ballot.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 11:34 a.m.  

  • I like this Down And Out guy more and more.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:49 a.m.  

  • A whole heck of a lot of ex-officios would have to support MHF on the first ballot in order to make a difference. She's just too far behind #7, I'm afraid.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 1:27 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 2:07 p.m.  

  • Somewhere I read that there are almost 1,000 ex-officio votes, but many are already publicly announced check wikipedia post)

    I'm probably dreaming in technicolour but if Martha could get 100 of those plus some of the 125 undeclared, that would be a much more respectable showing.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 2:11 p.m.  

  • Martha will get a bunch of ex-officio votes from people supporting other candidates as a show of support.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:13 p.m.  

  • I loved it, too, when Brison followed Dryden's hockey story with the comment that he too had probably been "wrong for hockey"!! At least he skates!! I hear Iggy has never laced up the blades.... which ought to be required as proof of citizenship.

    Anyway, somone was wondering about Brison's Business Background...

    After graduating from Dalhousie with a B.Comm/Finance in 1989, Brison had already started and run two of his own businesses, one of which employed a number of people and rented small refrigerators to university students across Canada.

    His private sector experience also includes U.S. market development as well as serving as Vice-President of a Canadian investment firm.

    As to federal government experience:

    After being elected as PC in 1997, Mr. Brison served in the shadow cabinet as the Opposition Critic for the Environment. Later, as a Liberal, he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with special emphasis on Canada-U.S. Relations, as Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and Receiver General of Canada.

    As a member of the House of Commons, Brison also served as Vice-Chairman and member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, was a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, a member of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

    He was a member of the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group and has served as the vice-president of the Canadian group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In this role he participated in Inter-Parliamentary Union conferences in Moscow, and New York.

    He has also served as a member of the Canadian delegation to two annual meetings of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London.

    By Blogger Penelope Persons, at 5:34 p.m.  

  • Couple more comments:

    Someone complained that neo-imperialism had seduced neo-conservatism, when in fact, "exporting democracy" it is an integral part of, if not the raison d'etre, of neo-conservatism.

    And Kennedy's French is nowhere near comparable to Dion's English! Dion has a strong accent and makes an occasional grammatical mistake, but he is otherwise completely fluent. Kennedy, otoh, can barely manage a sentence of two before switching to English.

    By Blogger Penelope Persons, at 5:41 p.m.  

  • I would assume, though it's not in the summary and I have little interest in watching the whole debate, that the candidates discussing the "Afghanistan issue" were quick to point out that many soldiers have died while protecting infrastructure projects, such as building roads.

    Or is it their intent to mislead the Canadian people in order to try to score political points over the lives of our brave men and women in uniform?

    By Blogger Paul, at 6:05 p.m.  

  • A whole heck of a lot of ex-officios would have to support MHF on the first ballot in order to make a difference. She's just too far behind #7, I'm afraid.

    I hear this all over today.

    If MHF doesn't make it to the second ballot, then the Liberal party has no goddamn business talking about involving more women in politics.

    I'm angry that, far as I know of, no frontrunner has ever taken the time to say, for ex., "We sure are lucky to have such an accomplished individual as MHF in our race and in our party - if I were PM, she'd be my first Cabinet selection" or something.

    I'm not asking for her to win, just to place strongly. More and more it seems that's asking too much of our "liberal" party members.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 7:48 p.m.  

  • Dion came off like a whiney little child. Iggy was Iggy. Rae scored some good points. I think Brison and Hall were excellent. Volpe was Volpe. Dryden was too passive, but had his moments. I think Kennedy's performance was alot more passionate and he showed a lot more substance this time around. Incidentally, I did a rough calculation based on the current#'s & current assumptions & I believe it might be almost a dead heat btw Rae/Iggy on the final ballot.

    By Blogger liberazzi, at 9:01 p.m.  

  • Anyways, I think once again CG was the most objective of the partisan blogs ie. Cerberus, Cherniak etc.

    By Blogger liberazzi, at 9:06 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 1:53 a.m.  

  • I wonder if Liberals are really looking for the best leader.

    Two criticisms of Mr Dion I have heard seem completely without are justification.

    1. One that the environment worsened under his watch as Minister.

    2. His English language skills aren’t good enough

    On the first point, I will suggest that the federal government has little influence over the private sector and even less influence in the province of Alberta.

    The role of the federal government is to develop policy and encourage compliance. Results don’t occur overnight from that process.

    Mr. Dion was Minister of the Environment from July 2004 to January 2006. In that time he consulted with the provinces and developed policy for implementation. The policy is ready to be implemented after spending 18 months developing it. He did his job and was only prevented from implementing the plan by the federal election.

    He has been mocked mercilessly for his skills in English.

    I wonder how many of the mockers are bilingual. Further, I wonder how many apply the same standard to their candidate in French.

    The reality is that Mr Dion has excellent comprehension and thinking skills in both languages. His spoken English is far from perfect but that is no reflection on his intellect or ability.

    He has spent more than a decade defending Canada and federalism in Quebec at great personal sacrifice and through great strength of character.

    Although he is not my first choice, he deserves our respect and he deserves to be evaluated fairly on his past contributions and his future potential as the leader of our party.

    The petty personal attacks that are uninformed and which lack substance just don’t cut it.

    Mr. Dion is a quality candidate who deserves serious consideration by the Liberal party.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 1:58 a.m.  

  • The criticisms of Mr. Dion remain without substance.

    There are also many reports that he was the best performer, so this can only be described as partisan opinion frequently quoted and re-quoted by those who .support competing candidates.

    I would say the criticism, in some cases, tends to be over the top,

    The Auditor Generals report can be found here.

    There is no reference in it to problems with accountability.

    In his brief 18 months as Minister, Mr. Dion worked to provide leadership and to address the problems that are now described in the bottom of the report.

    Note too the section about lack of co-operation from other levels of government and industry. Ralph Klein and his government were adamantly opposed to Kyoto and promoted tar sands development at the expense of the environment.

    Not surprisingly, Alberta is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

    Now that the final report is available to the new Conservative government, we can use it to measure the effectiveness of their new Clean Air Act.

    I'm not optimistic.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 7:09 a.m.  

  • On the first point, I will suggest that the federal government has little influence over the private sector and even less influence in the province of Alberta.

    Oh - well, we might as well all just give up then, hm?

    Still, I do take D&O's point on Dion and the environment.

    I have ZERO problem with Dion's English, it is totally a non-issue for me. I understand him fine, and the truth is - if a candidate couldn't speak a word of English, but is cunning and smart, I'd be happy to support him/her. I really don't care about English skills, personally.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 9:08 a.m.  

  • I wouldn't say "give up" but it is important that the federal government show strong leadership.

    I believe that they were beginning to do that once Mr. Dion took over the file.

    The Auditor General was commenting on weaknesses in the federal approach after committing to Kyoto.

    We are failing, as a country, to act responsibly and it will be important that the federal government assume a strong leadership role.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 9:28 a.m.  

  • Jean Chretien spoke both official languages badly and Canadians elected him to majority governments on three separate occasions.

    By Blogger Down & Out in L A, at 9:30 a.m.  

  • Interesting, CG, that you said that "nobody can argue that Rae didn't win the debate", considering that the Ignatieff blog army seems to be attempting to do exactly that.

    Silk purses, sow's ears I guess.

    In any case, a very good piece; I agree with Nacho in that it's by far the least tendentious one on the debate I've read.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 9:50 a.m.  

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