Et Le But!
So here's a sampling of what regular CalgaryGrit commenter, and genuinely undecided voter, Jacques Beau Vert thought:
Layton: In terms of surprising me out of my apathy, I thought Jack Layton won. His attitude was best all night, enthusiastic and feisty but never out of control. If I beamed down today and didn't know the NDP (and mistakenly believed the people here were able to vote for their executive branch), I'd say he won.
Duceppe: Duceppe was angry and lost his composure (he certainly got mad and lost his cool and expressed himself with angry conviction - so if you're a separatist, he won). Also I think he's deluded in his separatist ambitions, and it came across tonight.
Ignatieff: His answers were weak and uninspiring and canned. His constant repetition of "democracy in Canada" was dreary. However his "It's 2011, Mr. Duceppe. 2011. It's 2011" act was a highlight. He didn't go far enough to make a very strong impression on anyone's ideas about the federation, yet it was good "theatre", which is what "debates" are fought on on TV.
Harper: Harper was great! I know, many Liberals and NDPers see "a phony robot", but if I beamed in from another planet tonite, I'd have seen a Walt Disney family movie Central Casting recruit for "Prime Minister of a Westminster-style Parliamentary System". I guess that really, he "looked the most like a Prime Minister" - so, perhaps he was the winner after all.
That's one review. Le Devoir offers their thoughts en francais here.
The poll numbers coming out of this suggest little movement, but indicate Ignatieff may have helped himself the most. Via Ipsos, the pre-debate expectation of who would win and the post-debate judgement:
Duceppe 31% / 42%
Harper 19% / 12%
Layton 16% / 19%
Ignatieff 15% / 22%
More importantly, on the Best Prime Minister question, Ignatieff went from 10 behind Harper before the debate to one ahead after. So, on that score, mission accomplished. From what I saw in the debate, Ignatieff did a much better job selling the Liberal alternative Wednesday than Tuesday. He won the exchange that got the most media play ("It's 2011"), so he came out of this one quite well.
Layton didn't improve his stock but, from that same poll, it's clear he's the most popular leader in Quebec right now, and the debate probably served to re-enforce that feeling.
Harper showed again how frustratingly on message he has been this campaign. During the aforementioned Ignatieff-Duceppe exchange, he calmly cut in, shook his head, and mused about how difficult it would be for the other leaders to agree in a coalition government. Well, yes. That's why there would never be a coalition. But, his point was made - if you're sick of all these elections, debates, and bickering, then give me a majority and a 4 year reprieve of all these unpleasant side effects of democracy.
I hate to comment on Duceppe, because I know Quebecers have a much different attitude towards him than I do. It's an emotional connection - they see him as the Quebec's guard dog, there to protect them.
So I'm not at all surprised to see the instant polls showing he won. But, to me, Duceppe looked like a man who has lost his raison d'etre. He prattled on about the 2004 coalition deal that, quite frankly, no one cares about. He demanded to know why the other parties wouldn't ask Quebec to sign the constitution, even though he later admitted he didn't want to see Quebec sign the constitution - he wanted them to separate. As I said after the English debates, he's an angry man without a reason to be angry.
Sadly, that's it for the debates, though I'd love to see more, be it with 2, 3, 4, or 5 participants. Over ten million Canadians watched at least some the English debates and, thanks to some stickhandling on the scheduling, I'm sure a few million more tuned in last night. Clearly, the interest is there, and it's a shame we won't get another opportunity to size our leaders up.
Labels: Leaders Debate