Wild West Shoot-Out
I'll be live blogging the Alberta debate tonight as it unfolds. Until then, we've got a real battle of the Reids forming, with Ipsos showing Ed sailing easy and Angus showing Ed in a ton of trouble. Either way, all eyes will be on the debate tonight - if the Alberta Liberals have any chance, tonight is when Taft will have to make his move.
Oh, and I've got 17 minutes in the "how long does it take Ed Stelmach to bring up Trudeau or the NEP" pool.
6:32 pm: Bill Mason takes a page from the Jack Layton playbook! "elect more NDP MPs...errr...MLAs"
6:33pm: Ed Stelmach opening: "plan...we have a clear plan... a very good plan...plan plan plan"
6:39 pm: Apparently there will be absolutely no moderation this debate...
6:41 pm: What the hell? Commercials? Are they serious?
6:36 pm: I'm watching the debate with James Bowie here and his first question of the evening about Paul Hinman - "is English not his first language?"
6:53 pm: Stelmach points out that he's built a "neo-navel" unit. For belly button piercings?
7:01 pm: Paul Hinman - "we are not getting any action". Well, no.
7:04 pm: Kevin sounds good, pulling from his "next Alberta" speech.
7:05 pm: Stelmach calls his royalty position "a decisive decision".
7:08 pm: Ha ha! Who had 38 minutes in the pool? Stelmach brings up Jean Chretien and Ottawa stealing Alberta's wealth.
7:16 pm: Ed gets asked where his figure of 300,000 lost jobs comes from...and...we're on to talking points...I'll give Ed credit - he's not showing any emotion or any sign of life, but he's sticking to the script. Still, he didn't answer the question!
7:23 pm: Kevin looks a bit weak on the environment in my opinion. As I've said before, he should just say he supports the Harper targets and ask Ed if he does as well.
7:24 pm: Ed holds up his
7:35 pm: No offense to the gents, but this is looking like a bin round...
7:41 pm: From Mr. Bowie, on Ed Stelmach: "Is this his first election?". Me: "Yup." Bowie: "You can tell..."
7:53 pm: Another f'ing commercial break???? I'm a little disappointed that we didn't get a single question on ethics or accountability tonight since that was the opening for a knock-out punch....
8:00 pm: Following the debate we go right into "Big Love". Resisting...urge...to make Paul Hinman joke...
Well, that's the debate. All in all, it certainly wasn't the greatest debate ever. I'm pretty bad at calling debates and I obviously have my biases, so take the following with a grain of salt:
I do think Taft was by far the best of the four - he was the only one who showed any form of emotion. Most importantly, I think he looked and sounded Premierial. But, that's only for those who watched. There was no...wait for the cliche..."knock out punch", so unless you watched, this debate likely won't change anyone's opinion.
Stelmach...well, they say debates reinforce your opinions, but I cannot imagine anyone watching this debate and thinking this guy is qualified to be Premier. I'm sorry, but he is by far the least inspiring politician ever elected to lead any party in Canada ever. On the plus side, he avoided saying anything overly dumb and no one really hit him hard enough to knock him down so Ed can likely breath easy that this one is over.
As for Hinman and Mason...meh. Neither did much for me, but they hit on their key themes so they should solidify their base, if nothing else. "I hate corporations"..."I hate government"...we get it!
I'm curious to hear other thoughts on the debate. Daveberta, Alberta Tory, the Edmonton Journal, ES, and Joel Kom were all live blogging.
FRIDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: First of all, I really do think we would have been better served with two commercial free 1 hour debates. Last night, there was nothing on education, nothing on ethics, hardly anything on royalties, and we were treated to the bizarre “auto insurance is a HUGE issue – you have 5 seconds each to explain your positions” question at the end.
As for the performances, the reviews are, as usual, mixed. I scanned a few less mainstream blogs and discussion boards and they were digging Hinman, although a few people thought he came across sounding too old fashioned with respect to child care. The media seems to be of the view that Stelmach won by virtue of not sucking as much as they expected him to, and I’d tend to agree with them. The “undecided voter” panel that Ipsos is running for the Herald had it as a four-way draw, which means Mason and Hinman were the big winners. The Journal’s “average Joe” panel seemed pretty positive towards Taft, and panned Mason by and large.
A few more quick run-down thoughts:
- Stelmach listened to his coaches well. He looked straight ahead and mechanically went into his talking points when instructed to. I’m not sure anyone really understood what he was saying but he tossed around enough examples and numbers that you could at least get the sense he was competent enough to run the province, even if he lacked in the “vision” department.
-Taft was playing more for the audience than the pundits, I think. He was trying to look like a Premier and show some passion, as supposed to just punching away at Stelmach all night. Was that a good strategy? Well, that depends on how far you think Stelmach has fallen. I think he gets good marks on content and delivery, although he had a few weird body language moments.
-My initial reaction was that Hinman and Mason played to their base well and I think that remains true. Hinman wasn’t afraid to put forward his “true conservative” policies and Mason was fighting for the little guy. I wasn’t overly impressed with Mason, truth be told (and I have called debates for Jack Layton before) but he managed to lure Taft into a few skirmishes which is what he had to do too.
-My favourite e-mail I got in response to the debate from a reader:
Taft last night: “Charisma doesn’t win elections. Charisma doesn’t get hospitals built. Charisma doesn’t get schools built.”
But she does put on a great show Tuesdays at the French Maid.