First off - props to Steve Paiken who should be named English language debate moderator for life.
Like last night, this was fun...I think it would be great to do a roundtable debate like this every 6 months, even when there isn't an election going on. Like last night, I think everyone did a good job - Dion and Duceppe were the winners in French but tonight, I'd probably hand it to Layton and Harper.
Duceppe was OK, but he was more enjoyable back in '04 and '06 when he had Adscam to rant against. Tonight, he could only goat Harper into arguments on mundane technicalities I can't imagine anyone besides Gilles Duceppe caring about.
To Elizabeth May, I'd quote Lou Grant and say "you've got spunk...I hate spunk." I really liked May for the first hour of the debate but she got kind of grating after a while with her int eruptions and constant attacks. Still, she landed a few good punches on Harper and certainly sounded like she knew her stuff. Most importantly, she didn't look out of place on that stage. The only knock is that I still didn't get a good idea of how the Greens are actually different from the other parties...and I can't think of a good reason to vote Green if they aren't any different from the other parties. But, all in all, a strong showing by the rookie. Let's bring her back next time!
Dion exceeded expectations and didn't have any glaring language problems. He kept his cool - at one point early in the debate, he was ready to launch into a "this is unfair" but he caught himself in time. He also managed to channel a bit of Jack by relating to Canadians, and he seemed genuine. Still, there was too much "Green Shift" and not enough "Economic Plan". Dion had a few really good Prime Ministerial answers but Jack was just better than him which, by definition, is bad news for Dion.
Harper was better tonight than last night. His "la de da, things are rosy" approach to the economy and the absence of platform are two problems that will dog him for the rest of the campaign. But on every other issue, he defended himself well. He landed shots on Dion. He channeled "uncle Stevie" a few times. The creepy smirk was less prominent. So, all in all, a good but not great night for a man who only need a good but not great night.
15 second recap of Jack Layton's debate performance - "I'll scrap the 50 billion dollar corporate tax cuts. I'm just like you in that I don't like Exxon. I can relate. Bush, Bush, Bush. Tommy Douglas." Jack was good. He annoys the hell out of me because his "I can relate/kitchen table/I hate big business" spiel just seems so phony, but I think a lot of people will buy what Jack is selling. He attacked Harper hard and got a great sound byte in against Dion with his "you weren't even able to be an opposition leader, how can you be Prime Minister?" He was strong and showed that he cares about Canadians - what more could you want, other than funnier sweater jokes than the two duds he trotted out tonight?
Debate Live Blog
Last night's debate was fun - tonight's should be funner. I don't for a second buy the hype that Canadians will tune out Steve for Sarah; outside of a few political geeks, this is the debate that matters to Canadians.
I'll be live blogging throughout the evening, and will have full post-game analysis once it's done. Be sure to print out a copy of my debate drinking game to help you pass the time - and if you're still sober afterwards, there's always the post-debate drinking game, which involves taking a shot every time a pundit says "there was no knock out punch".
9:00 - And we're off. Elizabeth May has wisely ditched the 17 pound broach tonight. Once again, she's been coupled with Steve on one side of the table.
9:05 - The economy is up first. May: "Canada's economic health needs to be buttressed" - heh heh, she said buttressed.
Duceppe: "Bush, invisible hand, laissez-faire, oil companies".
Harper comes out swinging against Dion and Dion hits back...as does May: "where's your platform?".
9:09 - "You've proposed 50 billion dollars in corporate tax cuts." Guess who? C'mon, guess!
9:10 - Everyone hits Sargent Schultz for being oblivious the economic problems facing the country. Remind me again why Harper wanted to expand the economy section of the debate? (In fairness, Harper is holding his own)
9:20 - Layton and Dion drop the gloves! Stephane says he wants to turn Canada into Sweden...at least our furniture would be cheaper. Dion's message is spot on tonight, but I think I'd prefer him if the Scottish translator was dubbing him again.
9:24 - May keeps going after Harper hard. But Liz...he has such lovely kids! Cut him some slack!
9:29 - Apparently the Bloc is proposing a "Buy Canada Act"...which is kind of ironic.
9:33 - Jack: "The NDP has the best record of balancing budgets when in power". Exactly! The federal NDP have never gone into a deficit!
9:37 - May loves Sweden too! Twice!
9:42 - Duceppe and Harper start arguing about the "territorial approach". This is nearly as stimulating as their argument yesterday on how the nation motion may have been faxed to the wrong office.
9:50 - Jack is "incredulous". Jack name drops "Tommy Douglas" for the second time tonight.
Harper responds by taking a shot at Jack Layton (and Paul Martin) for using private health care. Jack's response (which I am not making up): "Why don't you talk to Tommy Douglas' daughter about that". Huh?
9:58 - It's a care-off between Layton and Dion.
10:00 - Culture.
Duceppe: "How could you recognize the Quebec nation and then cut arts funding?" Huh?
May: "We're being overwhelmed by culture from the United States." Screw this, I'm flipping over to the Palin-Biden debate.
Layton: "Olivia is a sculptor. I'm not overly talented." Yup. No argument there.
Dion promises more fun.
10:11 - Crime. I'm trying to figure out how Jack Layton will be able to bring up 50 billion dollars in corporate tax cuts here...but I have faith that he can!
10:23 - Billy Crystal is to the Academy Awards as Steve Paiken is to Canadian election debates.
10:31 - Jack Layton: "George Bush". Drink!
Stephane Dion: "As Prime Minister I would..." Drink!
10:32 - "Bush, Bush, Iraq, WMDs, Obama, Bush". I think Bush is getting mentioned more often in this debate than in the Palin-Biden one.
10:37 - As Prime Minister, what would you do first?
Layton: "Duh. No corporate tax cuts."
Duceppe: "I know, I won't become Prime Minister. I also know that three of you won't become Prime Minister, even if you don't realize it yet." Ha!
Dion: "Fix the economy."
Harper: "Fix the economy."
Jack: "Kitchen Table" Drink!
10:47 - Question: "I'm tired of politicians that kiss babies and say they love Seniors. How can I trust you?". Everyone just tosses our their pre-scripted closing statements that got axed when the format changed.
Harper: "I challenge every voter to take a look at our platform". Huh? WHAT PLATFORM? (OK, OK, he meant his 2006 platform, but that probably wasn't a good thing to bring up) As Paul Wells said on the Macleans live blog "Knockout punch! Self-inflicted"