12.17.2005

debate

I watched the English-language debate last night. Apparently the four candidates were more peppery in English than en Francais. (Is that true? Did any wmtc readers watch the French-language debate on Thursday night?)

I can't say I learned anything new, but I did enjoy seeing the Fab Four in action. As much as I think Paul Martin is a grandstander and a gladhander - not quite Clintonesque, but aspiring - I do agree with much of what he says. Yes, I'm aware of the disconnect between what politicians say and what they do. I am from Planet Earth.

I think Jack Layton is really cool. Or maybe what's cool is that there is an NDP - a active, viable, left-of-center party. One more reason to apply for citizenship when I'm eligible.

Giles Duceppe strikes me as completely bereft of ideas. Maybe he doesn't need any. All he has to do is stand there and repeat, "Referendum. Liberals stole money. Referendum. Liberals stole money."

The Sponsorship Scandal doesn't bother me at all, nor would it if I were voting. Politicians stole some money? Gasp, stop the presses! Are we to believe that there's a party comprised entirely of the squeaky clean and honest? It's a ridiculous notion. Power corrupts, and proximity to large amounts of money is very tempting. This is the way of the world. The amount of money was fairly negligible, and the country doesn't seem to be suffering under the Liberal government. Just the opposite. Other than political hay for the opposition, I don't think it's important.

I'm incredibly glad Stephen Harper is the leader of the Conservative Party, as he's got to be their kiss of death. I'm counting on you, Canadians. Don't let me down.

What did you guys think? First of all, did you watch? If not, why not? And here's a question for anyone reading? Is there any chance the debates - or anything else you might see or hear during this campaign - will change your vote?

32 comments:

Lone Primate said...

I'm ashamed to admit I missed it. I got some good news yesterday (new job offer) and was out nose-diving pitchers last night at a local watering hole...

Prompted by a desire to see the debates, I just switched to CBC Newsworld. I just read that Frank Stronach is building a project near Baton Rouge to help the homeless after Katrina. It's going to be called "Canadaville" and will house 300 people rent-free for the first five years. It's an interesting idea... I wonder if other wealthy people in North America and elsewhere might build on it.

Ferdzy said...

I didn't watch it; I only caught a little on the radio as I was coming home.

I think you are right about Duceppe not needing ideas. No one will vote for him outside of Quebec. In Quebec, his only rival is the Liberals, so all he has to do is keep his head down, and keep hammering at the scandal. Quebecers are particularly angry about the scandal since much of it happened on their turf.

I was less impressed with Jack Layton. I thought he was exhorting people to vote NDP a little too much. We all know that's what he wants; so I would have preferred to hear more talk about issues and less "Vote for us!" (Disclaimer: I voted NDP every election of my life up until last year when I finally gave up on them and voted Green.)

I feel very unable to comment objectively on Harper, since I loathe him, but I had an uneasy feeling he was doing better than I would have liked.

As for Martin and the scandal. I am probably one of the few people around who liked Chretien better, mainly because he had the balls to say "No!" to the U.S. about the invasion. My feeling is Martin is much more inclined to cosy up. Also, he has done bugger-all useful that hasn't been under pressure from the NDP. As for the scandal; I know what you mean about it not bothering you; graft being what politicians do. HOWEVER. It IS important. If we start to get blasé about this kind of corruption, we are giving permission for more of it. And that we really don't want.

I wish the Green party leader had been in on this. I'm voting for them, but I feel I could know more about their positions. If he had been included, I would likely have made an effort to listen to the debate in full.

James said...

Giles Duceppe strikes me as completely bereft of ideas. Maybe he doesn't need any. All he has to do is stand there and repeat, "Referendum. Liberals stole money. Referendum. Liberals stole money."

That's basically all the Bloc has. Inside Quebec, their platform is, "We aren't the Liberals". Outside Quebec, they have no platform.

The Sponsorship Scandal doesn't bother me at all, nor would it if I were voting. Politicians stole some money? Gasp, stop the presses!

By US standards, the scandal was trivial. Haliburton alone has one scandal that's worth almost $2 billion US -- and it has other scandals on top of that. However, it's important not to get complacent even about relatively minor scandals. The US has, and look at what BushCo is getting away with now.

First of all, did you watch? If not, why not?

No -- I generally don't watch. Like you said, you don't learn anything new in these debates.

Is there any chance the debates - or anything else you might see or hear during this campaign - will change your vote?

Nothing during the debates, and I can't imagine much that could happen during the campaign that would change things. If my riding suddenly looked like it was going to go Conservative and only voting for the Liberals could prevent that, then I'd vote Liberal instead of NDP, but given that I'm in Toronto Centre, that's not likely. Last election the riding went 30,000 votes Liberal, 13,000 NDP, 8,000 Conservative, 2000 Green.

BTW, in addition to the Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP, there are candidates from the Communist Party and the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party. Last time there were also Green Party, Marxist-Leninist Party, and Marijuana Party candidates.

L-girl said...

As for the scandal; I know what you mean about it not bothering you; graft being what politicians do. HOWEVER. It IS important. If we start to get blasé about this kind of corruption, we are giving permission for more of it. And that we really don't want.

. . .

However, it's important not to get complacent even about relatively minor scandals. The US has, and look at what BushCo is getting away with now.


I disagree.

Right now I'm reading about Canada in 1871 and it is wracked with political scandal. The history of government is the history of scandal.

The extreme corruption in the US can't be put down to complacency on the part of voters. It's not like corruption has grown steadily and has now reached its peak. It's peaked time and again throughout US history, and its not tied to party affiliation. The Nixon and Kennedy administrations were both horribly corrupt.

There have to be systems in place to cut down on graft as much as possible, and especially to ensure fair and accurate elections. Absolutely. But whether the public is up in arms or complacent about financial scandals will have no effect.

I just don't think it's important. (That's just me, of course: ymmv, as always.)

I just read that Frank Stronach is building a project near Baton Rouge to help the homeless after Katrina. It's going to be called "Canadaville" and will house 300 people rent-free for the first five years. It's an interesting idea... I wonder if other wealthy people in North America and elsewhere might build on it.

Wow. This is real? It sounds almost like fantasy/parody.

L-girl said...

Nothing during the debates, and I can't imagine much that could happen during the campaign that would change things. If my riding suddenly looked like it was going to go Conservative and only voting for the Liberals could prevent that, then I'd vote Liberal instead of NDP

Right. There's that math to do, calculating where your vote can do the most good.

L-girl said...

I got some good news yesterday (new job offer) and was out nose-diving pitchers last night at a local watering hole...

Congratulations! A wee glimpse into the Lone Primate world. :)

G said...

* LENGTHY *

I missed it, then caught the rerun early this morning.

Gilles Duceppe needs no other message. His party is unique in that they are a provincial representative - hence he has no need for a platform outside of Quebec. The Bloc exists solely to promote separatism, and are Federal players because of the strong support in their home province. In this debate, he's speaking to English Quebec and those registered to vote there ... and that's it (do the Bloc even run outside of Quebec at all?). That said, Duceppe is a bright guy who knows the issues inside and out, and who pulled some weight in the House this past year ... his economic and social policies are essentially NDP, and many of the bills the NDP claim to have been responsible for passing would have got nowhere with Duceppe. If this guy weren't a separatist, he could be PM ... and a good one, at that.

Layton was okay, but I was disappointed that he failed to adapt to the format of the debate. The point was to answer the questions of Canadians as to how a party, if elected, would handle certain issues. Layton's message the entire time was "the Liberals did x, the Liberals did y, NDP would do z". Viewer questions went largely ignored when it was Layton's time to speak, and he took every chance to jump off onto a Liberal attack tangent on completely different subjects. He did speak with passion - which was great - but he couldn't speak from the top of his head. He was too focussed on staying on script, at every sentence looking at his notes. Just tell us what YOU think, man ... that's the point of the event ... and that could hurt him.

Harper did well inthat he controlled his temper, refrained from name-calling, and stayed on message. He adapted to the Q/A format better than many thought he would. And he was able to present, for perhaps the first time, a viable platform for the CPC party. Too bad he fumbled the ball in two key areas: his hypocrisy when condemning the behaviour of other parties in Parliament (his party was the one Canadians saw doing most of the yelling, insulting, and interrupting in Parliament news coverage) and his flat, monotone delivery throughout the debate. Worse, he has this habit where he pauses every third word no matter what the sentence ... not good. Where was the emotion? Is he a human being, or are people electing a robot? The single biggest complaint about Harper, since he's been in power, is people cannot relate to him, have no sense of him as anything other than a talking head, and he didn't alter that impression any last night.

Paul Martin was passionate, something he was apparantly criticized for not being in the French debate (I didn't see it, so I can't comment on it). Of course, CPC analysts jumped on his tirade against Duceppe as scripted, but when you watch that, he stays off his notes, is stumbling at times to find the words, and is waving his hands around like there's no tomorrow. If that's scripted, the hand-talking (a nerve thing, like twirling hair, etc) stops and he's memorized the words. Plus he wins an Oscar (presented to him by the Canadian Republican himself, David Frum). Martin, like Harper, handled the format well and didn't buckle under the weight of the opposition's collective "vote for us because the Liberals stink" gang tackle approach. He spoke with passion about the country, about unity, and about HIS party as opposed to those of the past. The opposition's single biggest mistake was that most of their complaints about the Liberal party's record were complaints about the Liberals under Jean Chretien, NOT the Martin Liberals. And voters can tell the difference - I don't care what happened under the former group in power - they aren't in power anymore! I care what the people at the podiums can do for me, and they did little to put any knocks on Martin's government itself.

You raise a good point about sponsorship, also ... it was relatively little money, scandals do happen in most governments (who remembers Mulroney and his PCs? Anyone? Anyone?), and in the grand scheme of things, and the country has prospered under Liberal leadership. A guy like Layton is good for the country, but he HAS to get off of the repetitive Liberal attack plan soon, or his own party's message will get lost in the shuffle. As for Harper, he just doesn't sound like a leader when he speaks. People want someone to speak in terms of values, not statistics. Values we can relate to, and more importantly, believe in.

I don't know who gets my vote this year ... was going to be NDP but Layton's really disappointed me down the stretch after such a strong showing earlier in Parliament. I'm interested in a leader who speaks to the future of the country, not one who bases their campaign upon "vote for me because these guys are no good." He has his moments; had them last night, but they are too often lost amidst the anti-Liberal rhetoric which frankly people are getting tired of hearing. We get it, Jack. Now please move on.

So who knows? Green, just as a fuck you to the other parties? Maybe. The Liberals? I have issues with some of their policies, but at least they seem to give a damn. The PCs? With another leader, perhaps yes, but not with Harper at the helm. I can't vote in a leader for whom I have no personal respect.

Lone Primate said...

am probably one of the few people around who liked Chretien better, mainly because he had the balls to say "No!" to the U.S. about the invasion. My feeling is Martin is much more inclined to cosy up. Also, he has done bugger-all useful that hasn't been under pressure from the NDP.

Aside from Martin being pretty adept with the economy (the real perenniel show-stopper for the NDP), I'm otherwise inclined to agree with Ferdzy down the line here. Martin was all set to sign us up for that missile nonsense till he realized it was unpopular.

Inside Quebec, their platform is, "We aren't the Liberals". Outside Quebec, they have no platform.

Outside Quebec, they don't need a platform. :)

I just read that Frank Stronach is building a project near Baton Rouge to help the homeless after Katrina. It's going to be called "Canadaville"...

Wow. This is real? It sounds almost like fantasy/parody.


Yup, apparently it's true... This would be Tory-cum-Grit MP Barbara Stronach's dad, if I'm not mistaken.

Congratulations! A wee glimpse into the Lone Primate world. :)

Danke. :) So I go from "ya want fries with that?" to "Et pour le monsieur, les patates?" :D

Lone Primate said...

In this debate, he's speaking to English Quebec and those registered to vote there ... and that's it (do the Bloc even run outside of Quebec at all?).

No. Why would they? What would anyone outside Quebec stand to gain voting for them, and hence, why would they field candidates elsewhere?

Lone Primate said...

As for Harper, he just doesn't sound like a leader when he speaks. People want someone to speak in terms of values, not statistics. Values we can relate to, and more importantly, believe in.

Yeah, I have the same feeling. I don't believe Canadians hate the Liberals... they just have this disquieting feeling they've been in office too long for the country's good, and we need to open the windows for a term or two to someone else. But Harper just isn't what they have in mind when they open the window... like hail or bees or the reek off the fertilizer on the back 40... so the window stays shut. I really do believe that Canada coast to coast is waiting for a Tory leader who doesn't feel like he represents Calgary and the surrounding farms, PERIOD. And, no offense to Calgary, that's the vibe the rest of us have been getting from the various conservative parties for the past five years. I keep hoping if this election goes badly for the Tories, Harper will move on to private life and make billions screwing businessmen instead of Eastern Canada, and the Tories will pick Bernard Lord to run the party. He seems like a guy I could vote for, and -- forgive me if this sounds haughty, but remember, I tend to vote Liberal -- if I can vote for him, probably CANADA can vote for him.

However, I may be wrong about Harper; we won't know till the end of January.

G said...

MacKay's the guy who should get a shot. If for no other reason than Atlantic Canada has less to fear under his rule than others.

Of course, if Brian Tobin runs for the Liberals down the road, all bets may be off on the Tories.

Lone Primate said...

MacKay's the guy who should get a shot.

Nah, too Mulroneyite for my juice. Shouldn't, couldn't, wouldn't vote for him, so if I'm typical of the country, same problem. Throw me someone who doesn't lather himself in Eau de Baie Comeau.

L-girl said...

Throw me someone who doesn't lather himself in Eau de Baie Comeau.

Aw come on, guys! Translate for your new compatriot!

Marnie said...

(Baie Comeau was Mulroney's riding.)

I watched about half an hour of the debate, but gave up for the usual reasons: nothing new to be found here, and I've made my decision already. And could the whole thing be any less colourful or dramatic??

(You guys are just hearing about the Frank Stronach thing now? I was pretty impressed by what he's doing. It's not just free housing, but a chance to build a new community and make a living. It sounds great -- I really hope it works out.)

Marnie said...

Sorry, not Mulroney's riding but his home town. His riding was Central Nova.

Lone Primate said...

You guys are just hearing about the Frank Stronach thing now? I was pretty impressed by what he's doing. It's not just free housing, but a chance to build a new community and make a living. It sounds great -- I really hope it works out.

Yeah, but where is Washington in all this? They have money to dump 100,000 doughboys in someone else's country and force them smile and wave and drop ballots into boxes to elect a puppet government, but they can't help New Orleans recover from a hurricane? Where is the anger? Where are the people from Boston and Sacramento and Sioux Falls and Galveston, thinking "hey, next time it could be me!"? Why is everyone (or enough of everyone as clearly makes no difference) down there just shuffling their feet?

L-girl said...

You guys are just hearing about the Frank Stronach thing now?

I still have only heard about it here. I'll check it out, but no, I haven't seen it in any major news source.

Where is the anger?

There is tremendous anger, and tremendous grief, and tremendous fear.

There are also tremendous feelings of hopelessness, as things get worse and worse, disguised as simple apathy.

But never doubt that there is anger. It's not organized, it's not channeled into anything productive (like a revolution), and it's not even all in agreement about what the problem is - but it's constant, seething, and roiling.

L-girl said...

OK, I just caught up a bit on what we're calling the Frank Stronach thing. I guess I had heard of it, but it didn't stick in my mind as very noteworthy.

It's very nice, as far as charity goes. A beautiful gesture, sure to help those 300 people immeasurably. I just don't get too excited about a one-off personal donation. It's a band-aid at best.

Lone Primate said...

It's very nice, as far as charity goes. A beautiful gesture, sure to help those 300 people immeasurably. I just don't get too excited about a one-off personal donation. It's a band-aid at best.

Yeah, that's kind of my point, though. Richest country in the world, but people are seeing THIS as noteworthy. As bad as 9/11 was, it didn't do to New York what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans. But there was focus then. There isn't now. I'm not sure what the difference is except that the hurricane wasn't human, can't be attacked, can't be fought. They will come again. Is the resolve to protect forever-vulnerable New Orleans finally exhausted, or is it something deeper than that?

Franc said...

Both debates are being repeated by CPAC as we speak just so you know...

The English debate is on right now...

L-girl said...

Yeah, that's kind of my point, though. Richest country in the world, but people are seeing THIS as noteworthy.

Yes, I got that. You're right.

As bad as 9/11 was, it didn't do to New York what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans.

And you can't use a hurricane as an excuse to start a war and promote an agenda.

I'm not sure what the difference is except that the hurricane wasn't human, can't be attacked, can't be fought.

Although the damage done to New Orleans is human-made. The levees and the emergency response system could have been, should have been, in place. But those weren't priorities.

Is the resolve to protect forever-vulnerable New Orleans finally exhausted, or is it something deeper than that?

I think it's something deeper, wider. A complete disdain for the populace - a worship of only profit and power - a systematic dismantling of the good uses of govt (under the guise of being anti-big-govt). The Katrina disaster is only a symptom.

Franc said...

Here is a Toronto Star article on Canadaville

L-girl said...

Thanks Franc! Turns out I had seen it, it just fell out one of the many holes in my swiss-cheese-brain.

redsock said...

Worse, he has this habit where he pauses every third word no matter what the sentence ...

Maybe he's getting his lines fed to him via a hidden earpiece like the Chimp.

***

One thing to remember about the US and scandal and what the junta is getting away with.

THE AVERAGE PERSON KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT IT!

The media are equally complicit -- they knowingly hide and refuse to report on importanbt issues.

This week, the NY Times admitted that it had sat on a story about Bush authorizing illegal spying on Americans for more than one year -- simply because the administration asked them to not report it.

L-girl said...

simply because the administration asked them to not report it.

THAT is the scariest part (of a very scary story).

nataleo said...

I saw bits and pieces of the debates and I found them to be pretty much the same as previous ones-except now their mics get turned off if they drone on and on-i would vote for whomever implemented that great idea :)

I noticed a lot of the same things that others had noticed, in particular I was a bit disappointed that Layton was peppering his comments with 'vote for me' which distracted from the issues he could have been presenting.

As usual, Harper got on my nerves, but I will give him credit in that he did better than I thought he would-except I thought he blew one question that he's worked most of his political career to defend-western alienation. I felt like he answered that question by randonly adding platform issues such as electing the senate, and fixed election dates...I started to feel confused as if I heard the question incorrecly! And what was that page quoting that he did regarding Martin wanting to join the war earlier this year? That was the first I'd heard of that...

I found Martin to be very direct and in your face which I guess one does when being accused of crookery.

And well, Duceppe, I only listen to to hear his pronounciation of certain words, I like his accent, what can I say :)

Lone Primate said...

This week, the NY Times admitted that it had sat on a story about Bush authorizing illegal spying on Americans for more than one year -- simply because the administration asked them to not report it.

Jesus. Jack Kennedy personally had to beg the editor of the Washington Post not to go public with US invastion plans for Cuba during the missile crisis till he could go on TV and address the nation -- so World War III wouldn't start in the panic... And yet for much smaller stakes, the NYT sits on one of the most horrifying civil rights abuses since Watergate for A YEAR? God, what's left? :(

Wrye said...

Baie Comeau...

LG, it's time that I recommend to you the cartoonist Aislin, (Terry Mosher) and particular his collection "Drawing Bones" (or any of his collections, really) almost certainly available at the local library. Aislin is the editorial cartoonist of the Montreal Gazette, and arguably the best in Canada (though cases can be made for several others). But if you want more background on Mulroney and/or Quebec politics, he's your man--one of the funniest of Rene Levesque and Brian Mulroney's multitudinous nemeses.

Aislin's website.

Why Baie Comeau resonates with Mulroney even more than Shawinigan does with Chretien is that it was (is?) a company town, dominated by an American concern (iron mining, I think). Mulroney had an image of being starstruck by the American company bosses (I think he was known for telling a story about singing for them) as a child, and I believe he later made his fortune working with the same (or similar) company as an adult. It's viewed as the genesis of his admiration for all things American, cozying up to Ronald Reagan, and his enthusiasm for Free Trade. So the name carries resonance in that larger debate, too.

Of course, both Chretien and Mulroney were famed for shovelling loads of pork back into their home ridings, so we would have heard the town's name a lot anyways...

It's funny, though, I can't think of the specific towns where most of our other politicians come from. Trudeau? Clark? Harper? Martin even? All kinda vague. And while Bush wears Crawford like a hat, he's not *from* there...odd.

Lone Primate said...

I felt like he answered that question by randonly adding platform issues such as electing the senate, and fixed election dates...

Fixed election dates seems to be the new style in this country. It's one more step away from our traditions. When I woke up Wednesday morning, the radio informed me that Ontario had just amended its elections act to fix elections to the first Thursday of October, every four years, starting in 2007. Two other provinces (BC and Newfoundland) have already done this; Manitoba is looking at following. With this being the trend, can Ottawa be far behind?

The duck thief said...

I watched it and I have to say it was much better than the last language debate for the 04 election.

Last time there it was just a bunch of screaming old men. Anna Maria Tramonte was the moderator and couldn't keep the candidates under control. So while this debate seemed less subdued I was acutally able to hear what everyone was saying.

It was particularly interesting but Duceppe almost looked like an albino because of the lighting or camera. The left side of his hair was pink as was his ear and his eyes just looked, weird.

L-girl said...

LG, it's time that I recommend to you the cartoonist Aislin, (Terry Mosher) and particular his collection "Drawing Bones" (or any of his collections, really) almost certainly available at the local library. Aislin is the editorial cartoonist of the Montreal Gazette, and arguably the best in Canada (though cases can be made for several others).

Thanks Wrye! Good political cartoons - as opposed to very obvious ones - are probably beyond me still. But maybe these will stretch my understanding, or give me something to reach for.

Kyle_From_Ottawa said...

(Is that true? Did any wmtc readers watch the French-language debate on Thursday night?)

Not sure, I only watched the French debates on a French channel. I didn't watch the English ones, though they probably were more peppery in English, since both Layton and Harper speak rather mediocre French (but then again, mine isn't much better).

Some of the questions were interesting though, such as the one directed to Harper about gay marriage.