Thursday, October 02, 2008

English Debate

Debate Thoughts

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 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 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!
May: "PR"
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"


  • I have to admit I'll be flipping back and forth. Last night's debate I watched and made me much more interested to see in English. I'm bilingual so I was able to watch without any annoying dubbed over translator.

    Elizabeth may was the big surprise for me as I didn't think she'd be able to string enough words together to form a sentence.

    All of this will make for an interesting debate. I found Harper's quiet demeanor of "let me tell you how it is." to be subtly condescending with a father knows best feeling to it. Let's see how that plays out tonight.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:13 p.m.  

  • there's always the post-debate drinking game, which involves taking a shot every time a pundit says "there was no knock out punch"

    Do you hate your readers? Why else would you promote such excessive alcohol poisoning ;)

    By Blogger nbpolitico, at 7:24 p.m.  

  • outside of a few political geeks

    Who are you calling a "geek"? :)

    I'll catch the rerun of the CDN debate at 11pm on CBC. So there!

    By Blogger catnip, at 8:45 p.m.  

  • Didn't take long for Harper to go on the attack...

    By Blogger Maestro, at 9:05 p.m.  

  • none of the candidates are wearing pants.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:16 p.m.  

  • Harper is more than holding his own on the economy. this is the best I have seen him yet on this issue. Way more alive than the corpse he dressed up as last night.

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

  • Duceppe for Liberal Leader!

    By Blogger Mr.E, at 9:26 p.m.  

  • Jack Layton - he cares about you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:31 p.m.  

  • Monday's poll - Libs in 3rd?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:37 p.m.  

  • Why does that table look like a toilet seat

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:44 p.m.  

  • Debate moderator for life? Not sure anyone who asks "Are Conservatives barbarians?" should be given that title.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:06 a.m.  

  • 1. Harper - for surviving
    2. May - for not looking like an idiot
    3. Layton - for looking like an opposition leader
    4. Dion - for seeming like a nice guy but not much else
    5. Duceppe - for showing that May deserved to be there more than him

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

  • Oh, and before people try to convince me that May won, when they were asked what the first thing they would do as PM was, Dion and Harper said they'd fix the economy and May said she'd try to bring in PR.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:21 a.m.  

  • I only watched the last 30 minutes, CG, but you are dead right that May flubbed that one. I will admit my bias - I can't stand May, and for me the debate reinforced my dislike for her. I wish I could negative vote for her. She is a rude tricycle-riding fanatic that has turned her party (the pro-market Ontario Greens have consistently been my second choice provincially - well actually I was going to vote for them in 2003 but really had to go to the bathroom outside 900 Bay Street, and made a pledge that I would vote for Ernie Eves if they were still open... plus with Eves I briefly dated the downstairs neighbour of the son of Eves' mistress, so I was SO close to power... also the leader of the Ontario Greens was my brother's woodshop teacher - he was somewhat unstable and once threw a student against a wall) from something unique to something little different from the Liberals and NDP.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 12:30 a.m.  

  • Actually Sweden won. May loved bringing us us (so does the OECD whom May has forgotten that only grad students read their publications) and we took away that Volvo plant. Buy Volvos. They're boxy but they're good.

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

  • Ipsos Reid:

    Overall, the effect of this debate on voters’ intentions is mild. Nearly two in ten (15%) English-speaking Canadians who watched the debate say that they have changed their mind about who to vote for on October 14th as a result of viewing the debate.

    Among those who changed their vote, 37% say they would now vote NDP, 26% say they would now Liberal, 25% say they would now vote Green, and 9% say they would now vote Conservative.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:58 a.m.  

  • "Among those who changed their vote, 37% say they would now vote NDP, 26% say they would now Liberal, 25% say they would now vote Green, and 9% say they would now vote Conservative."

    But what were they going to vote before they changed their minds? The high number for the NDP and Greens would seem to be bad news for the Liberals, even though it's only 15% of total voters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:08 a.m.  

  • “Among those who changed their vote, 37% say they would now vote NDP, 26% say they would now Liberal, 25% say they would now vote Green, and 9% say they would now vote Conservative.”

    That's enough to deny a majority to harper. There was never any chance that dion could win the election. Layton may win votes from the LPC this time. But, he's won't be able to build on it.

    The best possible outcome for Canada from my POV.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:34 a.m.  

  • Its looking a stronger Harper minority, since we all know the Liberals will be navel gazing and abstaining for the next few years, progressives would be wise to elect as many NDP MPs as possible.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:02 a.m.  

  • It depends who they switched FROM though. If it was just Greens and New Democrats switching back and forth, the result is a wash.

    Looking at those Harper numbers (31% won, but negative improved/worsened score), my guess is Tories liked him and no one else did. I bet the movement was between the opp parties.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:57 a.m.  

  • Here are my thoughts on the debate:

    By Blogger The Dude, at 9:03 p.m.  

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