10.02.2008

"where's your platform? under the sweater?"

I'll blog about the debate tomorrow, but I just had to post this lovely quip from Jack Layton tonight.

This just in: Elizabeth May rocks. She added so much to the debate. We are all richer for her presence at the table.

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Since people have already started to comment on this thread, I'll continue here.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching all four opposition leaders piling on Harper. Harper comes off as composed, measured, in control - and cold, robotic and bereft of ideas. The most important words to come out of Harper's mouth last night: he admitted invading Iraq was a mistake. That's a mistake Canada would have made, had Harper been Prime Minister.

I loved how all four opposition leaders correctly accused Harper of importing his ideas and policies from Bush's US. And I loved all the mentions of Australia. While this is obviously a political tactic, it's also the truth. We fell out over Dion saying, "...as he expressed with the words of the Australian Prime Minister...".

It was sad to see that St├ęphane Dion was the worst debater at the table. I'm sure for many people he confirmed our impressions of him as a smart man and a poor leader. Duceppe, Layton and May were way ahead of him on all counts.

I really like Jack Layton, which is not to say I agree with every single thing he has done, but I think he's an excellent leader and he consistently speaks to my values and point of view. In addition to the title of this post - hands down the best rejoinder of the night - Layton also got in the second best shot of the night. "You're either incompetent or you don't care."

Last night, in the debate on the arts and culture cuts, I loved Layton's recognition that artists are workers. From a handful of commercially successful writers and filmmakers, the public has a mistaken impression of who makes art. Most writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers and visual artists are poorly paid, often taken advantage of, and mostly supporting ourselves through other means, unable to earn a living from our respective crafts.

On the other hand, Harper's attempts to list his connection to the arts - "I play some piano...my wife's family is talented" - was beyond lame. He would have been better off saying, "I don't care about the arts, good night."

Elizabeth May was amazing. She is fearless, articulate, composed and relentless. She knows her facts inside-out and backwards, and she isn't listening to the bullshit. For much of last night's debate, she functioned as the truth-teller at the table. As Harper spouted lies, she could be heard off-camera, saying, "He wasn't accused of taxing income trusts - he did it". When Harper said, "Take a look at our platform," you could hear her saying, "Where is it?", and on in that manner all night.

And in response to the "first thing you'd do as Prime Minister" question, she made a pitch for proportional representation! Wow!

One thing I hate - drives me around the bend - came after the debate, on CBC. They run their segment called "Reality Check", where they supposedly fact-check a politician's statements. But who's reality checking the reality check? While they picked apart the numbers of jobs lost and jobs gained, there was no mention of the quality of those jobs. If 500 union manufacturing jobs are lost and 500 jobs serving coffee at Tim Hortons are gained, the net result is not zero. Similarly, saying Denmark's strong environmental policies "didn't raise taxes, but didn't end global warming, either," is so reductionist as to be just plain stupid. Time to turn off the TV.

One last point of what I never want to forget about the Liberals: I loved Layton reminding us that the Liberals allowed Harper to stay in power for so long. Tell it, Jack.

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