Friday, December 16, 2005

The Great Debate

Well, it was better than last night. At the very least, it was more entertaining than Wheel of Fortune, albeit not quite as good as Jeopardy. We saw some emotion, a few sparks, and harder questions even if the format made really debate tough.

I'm going to give this one to Jack "let's not play politics, let's send more New Democrats to Ottawa" Layton. Jack actually sounded like he was listening to the questions; he referenced them, rather than just going straight to talking points. He did get cut off on time a lot, but he seemed genuine, attacked the Liberals, and still showed a positive NDP vision.

Harper gave well thought out answers. Yeah, he sucked up to the questioners and pandered a bit...but less than everyone else. He didn't look scary and defended his policies, especially the GST, well. One problem for Steve was that Paul outdid him on the "proud to be Canadian" questions. I'll be curious how the Iraq stuff plays out once the media looks through Cellucci's book.

Duceppe I won't add anything else.

Martin was...Martin. Big words, big emotion, but a little weak on substance. He certainly felt most at home in this format and used it to his advantage. His attack on Duceppe was "the clip" they'll keep showing, which might make him the winner once all is said and done.

First, the scores for the off-beat election pool:

Harper "Corruption": 3
Martin "Clear": 5

And now, The Debate:

6:01 pm: "Welcome to the debate featuring the major party leaders". Sorry Jim Harris.

6:09 pm: Things start off with the same sex question and Harper handles himself better than last night, although Jack comes across as the most genuine.

6:12 pm: Duceppe says "we shouldn't have a free vote on a question that was already resolved." Yeah, that'd be like voting for something in 1980...then in 1995...and still pushing for another vote.

6:14 pm: Harper asks Paul about the God squad. Paul looks grateful that this isn't a real debate where he'd have to answer...uhh...questions.

6:16: Paul announces the gun gestapo to enforce laws that have been on the books for decades.

6:21 pm: Duceppe: "48 billion dollars is...48,000 times a million dollars". Thanks Gilles. It's also 5,241 times 9,158,558 dollars.

6:29 pm: Duceppe compares Ottawa to "that show from the 50s, Father Knows Best". I don't think Duceppe is winning, but he's definitely the most entertaining.

6:38 pm: Jack, for the 8th time, suggests that the problems of Canada will be solved by "sending more New Democrats to Ottawa". "We need people to work for people". It sounds like Jack's platform is based on the Human Fund ("money for people").

6:47 pm: The question is on forcing politicians to keep their promises. Harper gives a very smart point. Paul says "Duh. Promises made, promises kept." Layton goes after Martin forcefully.
Duceppe: "between promising something and keeping it, there's an ocean. And that ocean is called Liberal". Man, Gilles has brought his A material to the English debate.

6:52 pm: Jack Layton complains about "a ruckus in the house". Kids these days...
He then says there should be "money for post-secondary, even aboriginals".

6:56 pm: Paul talks about the opposition leaders poisoning the atmosphere in Parliament. Unlike Tony "I make Parliament work" Valeri.

6:58 pm: Jack says that voting NDP will help solve the problem of "not enough women in Parliament". Boy, is there anything voting for your (male?) NDP candidate won't solve?
Paul says that he (and Tony "I make Parliament work" Valeri) have always supported female candidates.

7:01 pm: "Beer and popcorn!!!" Way to go Jack!

7:07 pm: Jack announces that he's "from the Steves family in 1765 in New Brunswick." Paul makes a joke about Jack being related to everyone. Paul would never never mention a relative of his during a debate.

7:16 pm: Wow. Suddenly everyone came alive.
Harper: "Page 165 of Paul Celucci's book shows Martin wanted to send troops to Iraq."
Layton: "George Bush is better at the environment than Paul Martin."
Duceppe: "Paul Martin is hypocritical."

7:18 pm: Who's this Ambassador Wilkins the moderator keeps mentioning? Is he related to Ambassador Williams?

7:21 pm: "Putting money in your hands is the best way to go." Guess who? ....Paul?!? Paul!?!

7:36 pm: Paul absolutely wraps himself in the Clarity Act, an act he was dead against when Chretien brought it in. This is going to play really well - it'll definitely be "the clip", which works well for Paul.

7:57 pm: Jack brings his theme home - "When you vote NDP, you elect an NDP MP". This has been Politics 101.

8:00 pm: "I hope you'll make your New Year's resolution to watch the next debates." I'm sorry, but I'd rather join a Gym or give up smoking. That'd be far less painful.


  • The pundits like action. Martin raised his voice a lot. As for substance, he was skewered. But the pundits don't care much for substance.

    The problem with passion is that if the public thinks your full of crap, it will actually work against you.

    We'll see if the voters of Canada thought Martin was full of crap.

    My call - Martin's slide continues.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:26 p.m.  

  • I want my two hours back.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 p.m.  

  • I just don't think I can ever get over how scary Harper is, being originally from Ontario, Alberta style politics that dwell on the outlying regions of moderate politics will always be the same. I will agree that Martin did look affraid as he should be with what's going on, and yes Layton did do a decent job, but he needs to get more into it, he comes across sometimes sounding like one of those save the children infomercials. I think that Paul and Jack could work together well, if Jack starts coming down less harshly on corporate america. But kudos to everyone for their effort (and man was Paul's rant on Duceppe great)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:30 p.m.  

  • TK is right about Paul's attack. To me, it didn't seem any less dramatic than the "you had an option" clip. Well done at that point.

    By Blogger JP, at 10:33 p.m.  

  • Yup,

    the media is pretty much exclusively focused on the style.

    The press is pathetic. It's no wonder there's a chance that the most corrupt government in recent memory will stay in power.

    Forget that Martin actually CAUSED the rise in seperatism, he talked really "passionately" about it.

    - The man who murdered his parents "passionately" pleaded with the judge about how he suffers being an orfan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 p.m.  

  • Layton didn't perform poorly, but is he the NDP leader or is it Ed Broadbent. It seemed like he mentioned the retiring former leader every time he opened his mouth!

    By Blogger Babbling Brooks, at 10:40 p.m.  

  • The man who set the orphanage ablaze "passionately" spoke about the need to save the children from burning......

    you get the point.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:45 p.m.  

  • For a year we've been told Harper is this angry, scary man.

    Now the press is complaining he lacked "passion."

    Boy, if Harper walked on water, no doubt the press would criticize him for not being able to swim.

    I just heard the "passion" for the 16th time on Newsnet.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:52 p.m.  

  • Craig Oliver was just complaining that the "format" "allowed" Harper to take the night, in the context of a discussion that Haper was able to distinguish himself on a number of issues with his policies.

    Gee, could it have been that he was actually talking about POLICIES, which the media has been accusing him of neglecting (versus simply attacking).

    News to Oliver - if you lose in a format which gives you an opportunity to explain your policies/justify your record, chances are your policies and/or record sucks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 p.m.  

  • Layton:"elect more NDP" . . . "Ed Broadbent" "Ed Broadbent wants you to elect more NDP "Ed Broadbent Invented Democracy because you elected NDP"

    Moderator: you are out of time

    Layton: "Ed Broadbent . . . ED BROADBENT!!!!!!!!!"


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:09 p.m.  

  • Am I the only one who heard PMPM say something like Quebec being 6 million people in a country of 300 million - it's that America thing again isn't it? Someone needs to explain to him that this is the CANADIAN election...

    To be fair though - he definitely had the quality tv moment with his 'please don't let anyone watch this in Quebec but I hate you Gilles' moment.

    As for the Vancouver version of the vagina monologues (could Jack and Paul have been more condescending to women? Remember Maggie Thatcher - she pulled cocks out by the root she was so civil) I would rather watch the L Word...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:24 p.m.  

  • Mr. Grit, thanks for the info. I refuse to watch the big media anymore and your site and others helps to keep me informed. You bring a side to the Liberals that I rarely see, well thought out comments based on fact and not fantasy. Keep up the good work.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:27 p.m.  

  • It wasn't the media complaining that Harper lacks passion, it was Robert (I love the Liberals) Fife of CTV that said it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:29 p.m.  

  • I think Martin won the debate over all. Harper started well but he remained in that monotone emotionless state. Martin demonstrated proper emotion when required (i.e. Quebec separation, Americans, Canada's future). These were issues when Harper could have done something, but instead he went back to his notes. Martin started winning it from healthcare (when he said he achieved benchmarks) and continued from there.

    Duceppe lost it when Martin ambushed him on Clarity Act. He kept rambling and repeating from then on. Layton was so-so.

    By Blogger mezba, at 11:37 p.m.  

  • Oh, and there didn't seem to be an "instant poll" for the debate on who won, so I'm just going to go with the first poll I see asking that question for the "off-beat election pool" question on it.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:43 p.m.  

  • Good call above, CTV website is reporting that:

    "Same Sex Marriage Dominated the debate".

    Uhhhhm, by what measure? It occupied several minutes out of two hours, was covered under two questions (out of what 60?). The parties discussed a myriad of other issues.

    No wait, I know what measure they're going by - it's the percieved "trouble spot" for Harper. So the headline should actually read "We at CTV want SSM to dominate the debate".

    The Liberal media is watching Martin go down, and like last election, they're going to do their best to see that it doesn't happen.

    Gotta love this healthy democracy we have here in Canada, huh.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:51 p.m.  

  • Martin's rant over national unity at which Duceppe was not allowed to respond...was as phony as a $3 bill, rehearsed right down to every single finger-wag.

    Of course, this had everyone at CTV/Liberal Campaign HQ absolutely gooey and peeing themselves.

    Layton, as per usual, demonstrated an ability unique to Dippers to reduce every single question to a matter of "investing more in social programs", didn't matter what the original theme might be. Like clockwork, within ten seconds he would segue...using the term "investing more in social programs". Even national unity can be solved by "investing more in social programs".

    Duceppe, with absolutely nothing to gain or loose, played the role of hatchet man, as expected, acutely...and remained likable through all of it, a special gift of his.

    Harper clearly won. Best answers, most sincerity, and certainly the most honesty. Distinguished himself from the other three on virtually every level, but most of all, as Prime Ministerial.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:56 p.m.  

  • Global National poll indicates that Martin "won" (32%) followed by Harper(30%), then Layton (24%) with Duceppe well behind at 7%.

    My personal impression is that Layton had the best overall consistent performance and kept getting his message across again and again. Harper had the misfortune of being hit with the SSM question right up front but he kept his cool and acquitted himself well. Martin didn't make any major gaffes but Layton and Duceppe kept hammering him. The saving grace for Martin was his stirring attack on Duceppe near the end re keeping Canada united. Undoubtedly it was well rehearsed but it came across as heart-felt emotion. Probably the best clip of the evening. If you look at the Global poll numbers, in reality the three English leaders were given roughly equal ratings and Duceppe was rated poorly. I thought Duceppe performed much more poorly tonight than in the English debate of 2004 but since he was rated the winner last night it may not do him any damage in Quebec.

    Layton acquitted himself well tonight. If he can do the same in the January debate the NDP may pick up strength.

    Harper held his own overall. I would have put him ahead of Martin based on the debate. His Achilles' heel in Ontario and BC is the SSM issue.

    By Blogger cardinal47, at 12:02 a.m.  

  • Check out Inkless Wells, re: troops to Iraq...

    Harper was telling the clearly is confirmed by the Liberals' immediate denial.

    As Warren Kinsella would say, "You can't make this stuff up!"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:10 a.m.  

  • Are the Liberals insane or pathetically in denial or both. Here's Wells' post:

    A denial that confirms

    Liberal news release:

    "Tonight in a craven attempt to associate the Prime Minister with his own support for the war in Iraq, Stephen Harper made a allegation that was an out and out falsehood.

    "We accepted his invitation to read page 165 of Unquiet Diplomacy by Paul Cellucci. Here is what it says in respect of Canadian participation in Iraq.

    "'But shortly before the government's rejection of missile defence was announced (in 2004 long after Canada had decided not to join the war), Prime Minister Martin said he was thinking of putting troop into Iraq to train Iraqi security forces. The very first person to raise objections to this was Stephen Harper.'"


    "I have never — never once — said that I would send troops to Iraq, or contemplated it."

    — Paul Martin, during tonight's debate, an hour before his campaign sent out the news release above.


    Hands up, everyone who thinks it'd have been a good idea to send troops to Iraq in 2004.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:19 a.m.  

  • The beauty of this is that the Libs can't even deny it or say Celluci was fabricating, given that they just endorsed it.

    As for those who were doubting the wheels falling off the Liberal campaign........anyone.........anyone............

    Thought so.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 a.m.  

  • Robert Fife can't find enough ways to stick his hands down Liberal's pants/skirts..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:28 a.m.  

  • If PMPM loves Canada so much, why not register a boat or two here?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:30 a.m.  

  • Cellucci should stick his nose into the election... issue a press release for his new book where he thanks Paul Martin on his offer to send troops to Iraq.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:33 a.m.  

  • so the CBC has two dippers and two liberals on their "panel" what a joke. So the lady is now talking about Layton using wedge issues, one guy is gushing on about Paul's passion for Canada and protecting it, the emotion he showed (wrap yourself in the Clarity Act Paul), and the undecided gal is talking about Paul's passion, all words no substance Paul

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:36 a.m.  

  • Harper won the debate hands down. He was controlled, thoughtful and got his points out. Martin on the other hand didn't answer questions directly but kept saying, so we have to, so we have to etc. Where has he been for the past twelve years on all these issues? Squandered years when their sole focus was on stealing taxpayers'money and stealing elections in Quebec as well as wasting $2 billion on a useless long gun registry. The left wing media including CTV's, Mike Duffy and Robert Fife are all about passion. According to them Stephen Harper does not show enough passion. Gentlemen this is not the gong show and the job of prime minister is serious. Get off the kick about passion. It is the electorate who will decide who has real passion, not you guys. Quit trying to make the news. Unfortunately the scary Harper thing won't work this time and so they have to find some other way of helping the Liberals. The Opposition leaders clearly pointed out the weaknesses of Martin and the Liberal party. Martin is fighting paper tigers when he wants to fight a referendum that is not here for another 2 years. His feigned outrage is embarassing and won't win him an Academy Award other than winning him the role of leader of the Official Opposition. Harper has it right. Create a Canada that respects provincial rights and there will be no need for a referendum. The same-sex issue is a media thing and it is the only thing that Martin can hang onto. However, Harper is right. Have a real free vote in the House and put it to bed once and for all. Trouble with Martin and Layton they whipped their caucuses so who knows how it work out. It is not a Charter issue. It's simply a free vote.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:41 a.m.  

  • Harper won the debate hands down. He was controlled, thoughtful and got his points out. Martin on the other hand didn't answer questions directly but kept saying, so we have to, so we have to etc. Where has he been for the past twelve years on all these issues? Squandered years when their sole focus was on stealing taxpayers'money and stealing elections in Quebec as well as wasting $2 billion on a useless long gun registry. The left wing media including CTV's, Mike Duffy and Robert Fife are all about passion. According to them Stephen Harper does not show enough passion. Gentlemen this is not the gong show and the job of prime minister is serious. Get off the kick about passion. It is the electorate who will decide who has real passion, not you guys. Quit trying to make the news. Unfortunately the scary Harper thing won't work this time and so they have to find some other way of helping the Liberals. The Opposition leaders clearly pointed out the weaknesses of Martin and the Liberal party. Martin is fighting paper tigers when he wants to fight a referendum that is not here for another 2 years. His feigned outrage is embarassing and won't win him an Academy Award other than winning him the role of leader of the Official Opposition. Harper has it right. Create a Canada that respects provincial rights and there will be no need for a referendum. The same-sex issue is a media thing and it is the only thing that Martin can hang onto. However, Harper is right. Have a real free vote in the House and put it to bed once and for all. Trouble with Martin and Layton they whipped their caucuses so who knows how it work out. It is not a Charter issue. It's simply a free vote.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:43 a.m.  

  • Wow, I haven't seen this much Conservative spinning since the Belinda defection.

    While Martin may have offered to send troops to train Iraqi troops in Kuwait, there is obviously a huge gulf between that and the out-and-out support for the war that Harper had been advocating since before it started.

    All the spinning in Ottawa won't change that.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 2:02 a.m.  

  • I just don't get the Liberal war room thinking in putting out the press release. They must know they're screwed, in that Martin denied so vociferously that he even contemplated it. Do they figure it is less damaging to accuse Harper of lying while providing the proof he told the truth than to admit their own leader lied? I notice they don't specify the falsehood they're accusing Harper of - perhaps they're hoping the groundswell of hysterical antagonism they've whipped up over the years will be enough to have people stop at the first line and not read further.

    Obviously, this is Harper's home run, one that Martin could have handled with integrity, but chose not to. And, as usual, the koolaid drinkers in the Liberal war room decided to down that beverage with him. Let's hope Canadians aren't as stupid as the Liberals take them for.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 2:02 a.m.  

  • Demosthenes says:
    While Martin may have offered to send troops to train Iraqi troops in Kuwait, there is obviously a huge gulf between that and the out-and-out support for the war that Harper had been advocating since before it started.

    Well, that was fast service. And thank you to the Liberal War Room for joining us tonight. We are, of course, trying to fathom how the vaunted manipulators of public opinion will spin this, and now we know. First, accuse everyone else of spinning. Then, make the claim that Martin was actually only going to send them to Kuwait. Only one problem. That's not what Martin said. He didn't say it tonight, when he could have come clean. More importantly, he didn't say it to the Ambassador, who makes it clear Martin was talking about IRAQ. So the next betting pool should be on how many times Liberal spinners, within the next 72 hours, will refer to this as a contemplation of sending troops to Kuwait. That's it - Kuwait. Not Iraq. Definitely Kuwait. Nowhere near Iraq. Very far from Iraq, actually. And only Conservative spinners will try to fool Canadians into thinking he was going to send them to Iraq.

    Scott, you'll have to do better than that. Have some beer and popcorn, and I'm sure something will come to you. Oh, and I hear Advil is good for your headache.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 2:10 a.m.  

  • Uh, Demosthenes, it's for you. It's the Liberal War Room. Something about letting it die. They say they've taken down the news release accusing Harper of lying. Then the guy muttered something like "what's the point - we're screwed".

    Hey, I've been there, fella. I know what's it's like when the fecal matter hits the rapidly oscillating device. How could you have known your leader, PMthelyin'PM, would lie to every Canadians with such a straight face. Still, you should have had some tipoffs. Remember this whopper? "I knew nothing about the sponsorship scandal".

    Anyway, rest easy. It's not your fault.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 2:36 a.m.  

  • Well, I know Calgary Grit saw the same debate I did.

    What channel were (most of) the rest of you watching?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:25 a.m.  

  • Well, I know Calgary Grit saw the same debate I did.

    See, I was wondering that.

    Layton came off as car-salesman as ever for me. I really want to be able to vote NDP, but he rolled out the goofy grin, the oddly restricted body language (he liked to gesture with his hands, but only directly in front of himself -- reminded my friend of John Kerry in the '04 American debates), and the starry-eyed dreaming of a beautiful future where we're all singing songs in social harmony, with no real plans. He overran his time on practically every question.

    Harper, on the other hand, seems to be playing to a tee the role of 'guy who doesn't win an election'. He's smiling in the right places, and his delivery is great, but I just don't think enough of his policies are in line with what most Canadians want. The NAFTA questions were pretty telling, he didn't answer directly about the notwithstanding clause... there wasn't really any answer I felt he really nailed.

    Duceppe was fun for sure. He looked like he was going to explode, or morph into some kind of monster, when Martin started going at him re separation.

    Which brings me to Martin. I don't want to vote Liberal, but Martin has a talent for nailing certain things. The Canada-in-50-years question, same sex, separation... I know the Libs don't follow through on a lot of things, and yet, he's convincing me that there is a good reason that the Liberals are Canada's default government party. I liked his answers on child care, too, I think he got that pretty well done. He likes to wave his hands around (he did that in the French debate, too) but he still comes off as the most competent for the position of PM, in my mind.

    (I seem to be in the minority, though.. I really don't see what you all liked about Layton. Both Calgary Grit and Paul Wells commented on him specifically, and I was just disappointed by his performance. Social Justice! Social Justice! Social -- what do you mean I'm out of time? Social Justice!)

    We'll see how it goes in January, I guess. I think it's going to be red all the way across the board, unless we get a real scandal. (Hi, income trusts)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:40 a.m.  

  • Oops, that was supposed to start with "Well, I know Calgary Grit saw the same debate I did.", in italics.

    And the middle, "I /know/ the Libs don't follow through on a lot of things, and yet".

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:42 a.m.  

  • Harper Negatives: All the spin was about Harper not showing enough passion. Yawn. This will hurt him with the general public I guess, but it is not something I look for in a debater. Harper’s Canada answers did not win him any votes, but I am not sure yet that they lost him any either.

    What did hurt him for sure was this. He kept on getting cut off by the moderator mid point. This had the same effect as mumbling the last half of a sentence and then being called on it by an authority figure.

    Of course, SSM was a downer for Harper. I am beginning to think that he likes to be roughed up a bit. He keeps dragging the conceptual train wreck that is the Conservative position on Same Sex Marriage out for everyone to laugh at again and again.

    CBC nailed Harper on the wait times claim, but the conservative toadies at Canwest would never report that. Their masters at the Fraser Institute keep them on message. CBC will not bring it up again because unlike Canwest they are news organization and not a wing of a rightwing think tank pretending to be a news organization.

    The claim that bloggers will really have fun with is Harper’s claim that it was the Liberals who were the ones who tired to buy off the Conservatives with offers of ambassadorships and Senate seats. Indeed, who the hell is he kidding? Roll the Grewal tapes. Murphy says flat out that the Liberals have been a) approached about this by a few Conservatives and not the other way around and b) the PM will not give someone a seat outside of government. He also rejects the notion of a senate seat for Nina Grewal flat out. In other words, the only evidence we have on this goes entirely the other way.

    Harper Positives: Harper seemed to unnerve Martin with his Iraq comment. However, such a comment only goes so far. “Thinking” is not doing and nothing ever came to pass, nor would it have. (The Liberals were worried about the rift in the Liberal party over SSM. Can you imagine what would happen if Martin had pushed to send troops to Iraq in 2004. The mind boggles.) The Liberals have flatly disputed the claim too. Harper’s delivery was very good throughout most of the debate. He only stumbled on a line or two late.

    Martin Negatives: As I have said time and time again, Martin’s political instincts suck. I mean the guy does not have a fucking clue. The Gomery inquiry was his first mistake. There was simply no need to call an inquiry and the results were entirely predictable. Separatism has taken off in Quebec again, the Liberal party is falling like a rock there and the general public agrees with Martin: what happened was outrageous and the guilty should be punished. Bismarck once said that what goes for the making of sausages also goes for the passing of bills; the public should not be privy to the process. Bismarck was wrong: what he should have said was holding a public enquiry on something that could break up the country makes as much sense as a sausage maker allowing customers to view the sausage making process. What the RCMP could have accomplished out of the spotlight, Gomery accomplished on Quebec TV. Of course, Martin has made things all the worse by choosing to focus on Gomery for nearly two years now.

    By June of 2004, Martin was at last waking up to the fact that George Bush was a gift and not someone to be sucked up to as Canwest boys had led him to believe. By then it was too late. He missed his chance to hold the election in the fall of 2004 to take advantage of the US election. Speaking of which, after the 2004 US election, Martin got it into his head that he should kiss and make up with George and that it was now politically possible to sign on for BMD. Good humor. He could have floated trial balloons about Canada giving its soul to the devil and they would have been better received. Canadians did not want to see George Bush reelected and voted the only way they could. The only ones more removed from public opinion on this one were Harper and Canwest.

    Finally, this last summer Martin became fully aware that Canadians do not like George Bush and most likely never will. So what did he do besides huff and puff? Naturally, he inhaled and put on the backburner one bill that would have painted Harper as just another Republican, viz., the bill decriminalize pot.

    So, where does this relate to tonight’s debate? Well, I wanted to put the fact that Martin walked right into 3 Stephen Harper talking points into context. He said earlier in the week that he favors an elected senate, but that it was not constitutionally possible. Now, presumably Reid had a little too much beer and popcorn and felt that Martin could hit Harper on a procedural matter well on the while making it look like Martin was still committed to addressing the “democratic deficit” outlined by the Conservatives and Canwest. If you do not have anything smart to say, do not say anything at all. A triple E senate is a god awful policy idea for so many reasons, not the least of which is that Canadians want proportional representation and not an upper chamber modeled after a US one that gives Alaska and California the same clout. Feeling insulated against attack, Harper droned on about an elected senate during and after the debate.

    Martin also said he wanted more free votes in the house and that he had lived up to his promise. Martin has, of course, not lived up to his promise, but that is ok. Abandoning the tradition of voting down party lines is just what Harper and the lobbyists want. The lobbyists would love to play divide and conquer.

    Next, Martin said he liked the line about Canada being a country that works in practice, but not in theory. Now where have a heard that before? Oh yes, Harper used that in the speech that the Liberals presumably leaked to the press.

    Martin also missed several attempts to try a big circle around another leader’s mistake. One in particular comes to mind. Jack Layton said that the House would be a more civil place if only more women were elected. However, rather than drawing a circle around this age old stereotype and blatant pandering, Martin almost stepped in it before just calling for more civility in the house.

    He also missed the opportunity draw out the similarities between Duceppe and Harper when it comes to the “fiscal imbalance”.

    Martin Positives: The one attack on Duceppe will play well. Martin did what Martin does well and that is finish well. Just as Harper was starting to fade, Martin was finding his stride. He did well and on the Canadian question and Harper did not. This will help him.

    Layton Negatives: many people like Layton. I am not one of those people. He drives me nuts. Tonight was no different. By the end of the night I was cringing every time he mentioned corporate tax cuts and do not like the corporate tax cuts at all. His talking points had a comingled quality. Indeed, I was surprised he did not mention Martin‘s corporate tax cuts in talking about SSM. As when he was about having secured more money for native housing, his choice of words and tone also sounded like he was blatantly pandering to various groups.

    Then there was the issue of strategy. Somehow the NDP have convinced themselves that what goes for TO goes for the rest of the country. This is simply not the case. Outside of a few urban ridings, the NDP will not be battling it out with the Liberals for seats. They will be battling it with the Conservatives in far more ridings. This is especially true of BC, the one province where they can make a real breakthrough. Layton repeatedly missed opportunities to attack Harper and focused on Martin all night long. The issue of the senate was a good case in point. NDP policy has always been that the Senate should be abolished. (This is the policy I personally favor.) However, I have never heard them advance this position in public. It is as if the policy is some secret love child that they do not want anyone outside of pundits and political junkies to know about.

    Positives: He was dead on about Martin’s blasting Bush over Kyoto. Martin was being hypocritical. (The Liberals should have attacked Bush on something they actually had a leg to stand on, (e.g. liberalization of marijuana laws).)


    Negatives: His English was poor and his point about unemployment insurance was hopelessly wrong.

    Positives: he is separatist. I have nothing positive to say about him. :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:28 a.m.  

  • Patrick,

    "can't understand the Libs releasing"

    I can't understand how after setting the orphanage ablaze (rise in seperatism) he had the gall to speak so passionately about saving the children.

    But the press thought it was great. Quick answer. The press is in their back pocket and will spin this anyway Martin wants them to, even to the point of absurdity.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:10 a.m.  

  • The backroom desperately wants to give Martin a lift, now that the amphetamines are losing their edge. Trouble is, pushing the message through the television folks is a dubious proposition. Because what makes good TV is not what Canadians desire in terms of good governance.

    By the way, if you liked Martin's angry wail against Duceppe, you would have liked it even more the previous night - in the French session. Yes, they must have rolled Martin through this rehearsed bit of 'passion' at least a dozen times before the right intensity was achieved for CBC and CTV.

    All spittle and no substance from an old man whose career in politics is already finished.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:15 a.m.  

  • To the regular Calgary Grit readers (Liberals).f

    You have to calibrate. If you are a Liberal or Marting supporter (but not the mushy middle that reps. about 60% of the people right now), naturally things he stood for would resonate. But consider this, if you thought he only did "pretty good", then chances are most folks though he looked terrible, like I did.

    Martin was skewered.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:18 a.m.  

  • I am one of those guys who liked Jack's performance. The sequence where he pounded Martin on broken promises was the debate highlight moment until Martin had his better moment with Duceppe. Phony, yes, but a good moment for Paul.

    Harper did well I thought, and nobody really landed any blows on him. The Celluci thing was pretty slick.

    Gilles disappointed me. After the debates I usually wish their was a Bloc candidate in Alberta. Not so much this time. he seemed to be mailing this one in.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:46 a.m.  

  • Dithers lied about Iraq. Damage control units out in full force, women and children crying and grown men drowning their sorrows with beer and popcorn. Let me say it again - DITHERS LIED AND GOT CAUGHT...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:15 a.m.  

  • Other than Paul Wells I can't find a lot in the MSM about Celluci's quote. It's ironic considering the constant reminder the MSM and Liberals give Canadians concerning Harper's views on this matter. I see two current stories that I think have legs - the income trust scandal and now this Celluci quote - but I don't see anyone in the MSM pursuing them. I'm not sure of the dynamics involved (I know that there are complaints about media bias towards the Liberals) but I would like to believe that journalists, in a country that suffers from a dearth of effective opposition to the government, are capable of doing their bit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:37 a.m.  

  • What Paul Martin Really Said About Iraq:

    * "I really think Canada should get over to Iraq as quickly as possible," (North Bay Nugget, April 30, 2003)

    * "Once the war in Iraq began, Canada was far from neutral. The only satisfactory outcome was a defeat of Saddam Hussein and his removal from power." (Speech in Toronto, April 30, 2003)

    * "Canada's strongest desire was for a swift and just victory by coalition forces. Thankfully, that occurred." (Paul Martin Times, May 1, 2003)

    * "I don't think there is any doubt, if there ever was . . . that he does have weapons of mass destruction. Biological weapons that they discovered were very clear evidence of not only the fact that he had them, but that he had lied and that he is continuing to lie." (Calgary Herald, March 7 2003)

    * "Canada's position was Saddam Hussein should be disarmed. Now, to be quite honest, I had a lot of difficulty understanding how he was going to be disarmed without being replaced." (Ottawa Citizen, April 28, 2003)

    * "The fact that now we know well that there is proliferation of nuclear weapons and that many of the weapons that Saddam Hussein had, for example, we do not know where they are, so that means the terrorists have access to all that." (Globe and Mail, May 11, 2004)

    * "Canada should be there." (Halifax Daily News, January 15, 2003)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:37 a.m.  

  • I'm surprised the Iraq stuff isn't getting a lot of attention but, to be fair, it's only Cellucci's word and it was just a matter of training troops. Very slick of Harper.

    As for Layton, he landed some good blows and I think the average person will find him somewhat genuine. He was overly repetitive about "sending NDP MPs to Ottawa" and "making parliament work" and all that stuff, but you need to be to hammer the message home.

    Someone mentioned the Global poll had it 32-30-24 for Martin, Harper, Layton. If so, then Layton actually appealed to people aren't/weren't planning to vote for him, which is always an achievement in debates like this which generally just re-inforce your opinions.

    On that topic, I wasn't watching Global - was this a real poll or just an Internet poll? For the contest, I want to make sure it's an actual phone poll and not just some hokey on-line thing.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:38 a.m.  

  • Calgary,

    It wasn't "only Cellucti's word". The Liberal spin room actually relied on the quote.

    That's not saying its not true. That's the opposite.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:04 p.m.  

  • The Leger overnighter has the debate 29-28 for Martin over Harper. So I'm going to put this one into the books for Martin, with respect to the off-beat election pool results.

    Still no "real" abortion talk in my opinion yet. Or no Belinda in Liberal TV ads.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:29 p.m.  

  • "Liberal War Room"?

    Holy crap, that's the weirdest accusation I've ever seen in my years of blogging and commentating.

    (What's next, calling me a sock puppet for Cherniak?)

    By the by, removing a press release doesn't change a thing; nor does citing Mr. Celluci as an unbiased source, when the tone and point of the book was and is to defend Celluci's controversial time as ambassador.

    As CalgaryGrit said, there's a clear difference between sending troops for training and sending them for security purposes. Harper blurred that line; while I can understand his supporters aiding him in that, there's no reason the rest of us should.

    As for the debate? The format was weak, Layton needed to slow down on the hard sell, Harper was smooth but hasn't done himself any favors on the "loves the United States and dislikes his own country" front, Duceppe seemed to eagerly reinforce the idea that the Bloc existed solely for seperation, and Martin took what had been a weak performance (aside from SSM) and saved it with Duceppe's unwitting lob on the Clarity bill.

    Oh, and Koby is absolutely right on Layton: he needs to hammer Harper more, because BC is his best shot at being the power broker in a minority government. Pro-Liberal strategic voting is a problem for him, but it's not the sole problem, and it shouldn't be treated that way.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 12:51 p.m.  

  • Mike - you sure you were watching the same debate that the rest of us were?

    “he (Harper) didn't answer directly about the notwithstanding clause”

    Sorry, is "I will not use the notwithstanding clause" not direct enough? Do you need it in giant neon lights flashing in the sky? A personal, handwritten letter from Harper saying the same words?

    Martin's (and the LPC/NDP/BQ) position on SSM is made by the SCC decision that stated that same-sex marriage is constitutional. That same decision did not say that the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court justices have not ruled on the constitutionality of the traditional definition of marrage, either on it's own or when combined with the Conservative's plan of equal rights (without the name 'marriage') for homosexual couples.

    As far as a winner... granted, I am a bit partisan, but I think Harper took it. Heck, even the Red Star said that Harper acted "prime-ministerially" - probably the nicest thing they've ever said about a Conservative.

    Martin played dead until his screaming at Duceppe - nicely rehearsed, and tugged at a few heart strings. There was also the constant stammering and stuttering that accompanies a nervous Martin -plus the hands! I thought for a moment that Duceppe and/or Layton might get taken out by his incessant waving. Is the Liberal war chest so low that Martin's out there directing their plane, now?

    Layton did ok, if you like hearing about Ed Broadbent and the constant "NDP stand up for People". As far as Duceppe... he kept laying into Martin, and other then a few stumbles around the Clarity Act, seemed to do reasonably well.

    By Blogger Greg P, at 1:08 p.m.  

  • I'm somewhat surprised that Martin didn't bring up more of Harper's anti-Canadian quotes from his '97 speech. Seriously, how could anyone vote for a guy who has made such "backstabbing" statements against his own country and to an American right wing audience no less? I guess Martin is waiting until the new year.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:19 p.m.  

  • Maybe it was the beer and the marijuana talking, but did anyone else notice that Jack Layton looked exactly like Vladimir Lenin last night? Holy crow...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:43 p.m.  

  • I thought it was priceless when Martin decried Harper's take on Canada from the eight year old speech, quoting him as saying the country works in theory but not in practice. That, of course, was the lead-in for lyin' PM to thump his chest and emote that dammit, the country does too work in practice (despite his best efforts to the contrary). Only one trouble. What Harper said was "Canada is . . . a troubled country politically, not socially. This is a country that we like to say works in practice but not in theory.” So lyin' PM got caught yet again.

    Let's see, that's
    1. A clumsy effort to link the Martin name with the creation of medicare, when he said his daddy introduced it;
    2. A clumsy denial that he had ever contemplated sending troops to Iraq, for any reason, and the desperate effort by the Liberal War Room to take advantage of his lie which backfired;
    3. A misquote that had lyin' PM caught both misrepresenting Harper AND agreeing with him.

    Three strikes, Paul. You're out.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 1:51 p.m.  

  • Demosthenes, my apologies. From the clumsy way you got your facts all screwed up, I just assumed you were from the Liberal War Room.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 1:53 p.m.  

  • "As CalgaryGrit said, there's a clear difference between sending troops for training and sending them for security purposes."

    Are you fucking serious - that's the spin!??!!?? It's Iraq - they blow people up there for that kind of thing. You seriously think that our guys would be safer because they were 'training' Iraqi soldiers??? Martin said he would send NO troops - not for holidays, training, ballroom dancing, anything. The fucking guy LIED and the best excuse is they were just going to be 'training Iraqis'? Yeah right up to the point when the shooting starts...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:10 p.m.  

  • Thanks I missed the debate last night but saw the French one, your recap sounds right like I was there, in front of my TV with my Liberal CPC taxpaid beer and popcorn, and noise maker....

    By Blogger EUGENE PLAWIUK, at 2:32 p.m.  

  • hmmm... I had a totally different take on last nights debate:

    Jack actually came down a notch from his previously thought "grounded" presence in the debates thus far. He would start out great and end with a sales pitch. He resorted to oversimplifications regarding the tax issue waaaay too many times - redundancy at it's best. Though I'm half convinced his approach will take hold on many, I thought he blew it this round.

    Martin had a nice moment of apparently sincere passion, if only a fleeting moment that diverted attention from the usual flat and unconvincing "party line" rhetoric.

    I dare say Harper came across MUCH better than I've ever, ever seen before. He's been taking acting classes or speach coaching or something... Someone is getting a big pat on the back for turning that guys stage image around, of this there is no doubt. Frightening... I say.

    Duceppe held the floor, in my opinion. He fielded most questions in a personal manner that appeared to reflect his intellect, at least. As opposed to a sales pitch. Though that fact doesn't matter at all for most western viewers I'm certain... The bulk of which really don't give a shit what that guy is saying.

    So then, all in all the tally adds up to a Harper bonus point in the campaign thus far. That last debate left me thinking Martin hasn't got much a chance against three persistant attackers, all he's got is the "strategic vote" playing in his favour at this point. Layton needs to turn it around right quick again, if he wants to hang on to his advantages thus far.

    my two cents, though I must add that i'm not likely to vote for any of the above parties myself...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:59 p.m.  

  • "What Paul Martin Really Said About Iraq:

    Joe someone else posted the same list at Blogs Canada and Jim Elve, no lover of Paul Martin, rightly pointed something out.

    "* 'I really think Canada should get over to Iraq as quickly as possible,' (North Bay Nugget, April 30, 2003)"

    Here's the rest of the quote:

    'I really think Canada should get over to Iraq as quickly as possible. There’s a huge need for front-line medical professionals. There’s a huge need for policing. And there’s a huge need for infrastructure rebuilding.' (April 30, 2003)"

    As usual, Martin's intincts when it came to Iraq were god awful. (When it comes to public opinion, if Canwest says one thing, do another. Canwest says the Liberals are too "anti American" and that Martin needs to put a stop to this. Martin promises to put a stop to it just as Bush becomes the most reviled US president in history. Canwest blathers on about Canada missing out on reconstruction contracts, just as the insurgency is starting to hit stride. Martin lends a sympathic ear. Canwest says Liberals should sign on for BMD. Martin starts taking Canada in that direction before recognizing that would be politically stupid.) However, let us not take things too far. Medics, cops and corporations are a long way from troops.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:29 p.m.  

  • Out of curiosity,

    Who was the second Liberal besides David Pratt to vote in favour of going into Iraq?

    And what was Paul thinking naming a pro-Iraq supporter as his *defence minister* if he was so fundamentally against it?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:59 p.m.  

  • The Liberal War Room is in full spin cycle. Wells has just posted their response to getting caught in claiming Harper misled Canadians, while providing the proof that, on the contrary, lyin' PM had lied again. Here's their response, carefully crafted to explain the unexplainable (such as why, if they actually believe what they're writing, they took the misleading press release down as soon as they were exposed, or why Martin would have said he NEVER contemplated (i.e. not once in history) sending troops to Iraq for any reason. CAUTION: UNMITIGATED GALL AND FLYING FECAL MATTER AHEAD:

    Droit de réplique: Liberal war room

    I've had lots of fun shooting in every direction here for the past week or so, but I actually don't want to turn into a hanging judge. So when Cyrus Reporter, who's running the Liberal '06 war room, asked to clarify the Martin-on-Iraq emailing I mock in a post below this one, I was happy to oblige. Some of the brightest people I've met in Ottawa are in the Grit war room, so I don't mind giving Cyrus some room to push back. Here's his email. — pw


    Hi Paul,

    Just wanted to clarify the intent behind our note last night. The
    purpose of our message was to point out that the Cellucci reference made
    by Mr. Harper during the debate was incomplete and therefore, in our
    view, quite misleading.

    Mr. Harper last evening stated that "Mr. Martin wanted to send troops to
    Iraq. I rejected that idea." As support for that statement, he made
    reference to page 165 of Mr. Cellucci's book. The relevant passage from that page is as follows:

    "But shortly before the government's rejection of missile defence was
    announced, Prime Minister Martin said that he was thinking of putting
    troops into Iraq to help train Iraqi security forces." (Paul Cellucci,
    Unquiet Diplomacy, p. 165)

    Note that even the contention regarding Canadian troops in Mr.
    Cellucci's book refers to their possible deployment "to help train Iraqi security forces". Mr. Harper neglected to include this key reference last evening. He omits this of course because the issue of relevance, from our perspective, is not whether or not there was ever contemplation of sending Canadians to Iraq to assist in the training of security forces to protect innocent civilians in 2004.

    Rather, the key issue of contention has always been whether Canada would
    support the initial invasion of Iraq - a concept Mr. Harper clearly
    supported and the Liberal Government clearly rejected.

    Further, Mr. Harper attempted to use the misleading and incomplete
    citation in the debate in response to an assertion made by the Prime
    Minister with regard to the initial invasion of Iraq:

    "The fundamental difference between Mr. Harper and myself is that I went
    on American TV and said to the Americans they are wrong in not honouring the agreement. Mr. Harper went on American TV and said to the Americans that we were wrong when we didn't join the Americans in the invasion of Iraq. I don't believe you could criticize Canada on foreign networks but I do believe you go to the American people when they're wrong and you tell them that."

    I'm sending you this note in positive spirit of course. We might have been more precise in indicating the issue our message was intended to address."

    Wouldn't have helped. Lyin' PM eliminated any possibility of an explanation when he said he NEVER contemplated sending troops to Iraq. Not for humanitarian missions, not for training purposes, not for war. NEVER. It's an absolute word. CONTEMPLATED - he wanted Canadians to think that it never once even crossed his mind.

    What I love about the explanation is that, by inference, the Liberals are now admitting that -- AHEM, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE, truth now replacing BS -- Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal War Room, in a message to Paul Wells today admitted that Stephen Harper was right when he said that he was the first to raise objections to Paul Martin's consideration of sending Canadian troops to Iraq to train Iraqi troops.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 7:41 p.m.  

  • Mike:

    Interesting. And here I thought Layton did a good job of keeping last year's big grin off of his face. I don't remember seeing the toothy smile even once, in either debate, and I was watching for it.

    I thought Layton was brilliant in the first half - I was literally cheering. But in the second half he started to repeat himself too much, missed key points, and pushed past the end of his time (which I really hated). Yes, everyone got hit by the time at least once, but he was the only one who insisted on talking after the mike was shut off more than once. (Harper did once as well.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:42 p.m.  

  • You will note just how carefully the email to PW is worded:

    "Rather, the key issue of contention has always been whether Canada would
    support the initial invasion of Iraq - a concept Mr. Harper clearly
    supported and the Liberal Government clearly rejected."

    Noted: The "Liberal Government"...not Paul Martin, who clearly thought Canada should join the coalition.

    A technical detail obviously not lost on the author of the that he didn't want yet another screw-up in his clarification of a previous screw-up.

    I am reminded of the old adage about spinning webs...

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

  • To the Liberal War Room - Please do something about Dithers gesturing during the...whatever that thing was on tv last night. I am also worried that he's going to put someones eye out with that pen. And, if you're going to let him move away from the podium remind him that he should hang on to something in case he slips on the water he keeps spilling. Lastly, when he gets up the old passion and has a go at the others he shouldn't flinch when they look back at him - he looks scared. And oh, one last thing HE LIED ABOUT IRAQ...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:03 a.m.  

  • I think the interview Blitzer had with Martin at CNN is pretty telling also...I read it at

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:13 a.m.  

  • I loved this part of their missive:
    "the issue of relevance, from our perspective, is not whether or not there was ever contemplation of sending Canadians to Iraq"

    Of course, the issue of relevance to Canadians is why lyin' PM lied about whether there was ever contemplation of sending Canadians to Iraq. Martin made it the issue of relevance when he said that he NEVER contemplated it. And that's why the issue of relevance now is why the Liberals keep this bozo around.

    By Blogger Patrick, at 2:36 a.m.  

  • Even when conservatives are faced with the truth, they lie.

    Sending troops to Iraq to train Iraqies is not the same as sending troops to Iraq to war.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:33 a.m.  

  • Nice try at the spin there, hiti. Martin said during the debates that he didn't advocate sending Canadian troops to Iraq. Period. He didn't say what those troops would do in Iraq, he came out with a complete denial.

    You are correct, sending troops to Iraq to actively engage in combat is different then sending troops to Iraq to train Iraqui soldiers, however they have one thing in common - Canadian troops being sent to Iraq.

    Mr. Dithers flat-out denied that he contemplated sending troops to Iraq (for any reason), but the story reveals otherwise.

    As far as the half-quote goes ('I really think Canada should get over to Iraq as quickly as possible. There’s a huge need for front-line medical professionals. There’s a huge need for policing. And there’s a huge need for infrastructure rebuilding.') - who did Dithers want to do these things? Was he going to force private-practice physicians to go other there? RCMP officers? Construction workers? I would contend that these jobs that he wanted done by Canada (note, not by 'Canadians', but by "Canada")would have been done by the Canadian military.

    By Blogger Greg P, at 3:32 p.m.  

  • Greg P:

    What I meant, with my comment about Harper not answering straight-up about SSM, is ... I just felt like he should have given more details about why he thought that it wasn't a constitutional issue. The inquiring lawyer in me, I guess. I did appreciate his levity re the notwithstanding clause.


    The Grin came up in opening and closing statements. I completely agree with you re first half and second half, though. I was really hopeful that he had gotten himself together, but the way he overran his time -- sometimes he'd even start *another* sentence *after* the moderator said thank you. And I assume they had big clocks right in front of them or something.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:19 p.m.  

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