If I didn't know anything coming into the debate - if I didn't know that liberals always sound progressive at election time - if I didn't know how weak Michael Ignatieff has been in Parliament - if I based my vote only on the debates - and with the one very significant exception of their support for the war in Afghanistan - I would be voting enthusiastically for the Liberal Party.
Ignatieff was strong, articulate and effective, while still seeming warm and human. For the first time, he seemed to me Prime Ministerial. I particularly liked him denouncing Harper's characterization of Parliamentary opposition as "bickering".
Although there's always a risk when three people gang up on one - Stephen Harper is not exactly an underdog! - Harper seemed on the ropes through much of the debate. Whether or not the public will believe his
In their post-debate analysis, CBC included a segment that could have been fascinating, but instead was useless. They hosted a focus group of young adults watching the debate in a Toronto pub. The young voters were given photos of each party leader, and when asked who they liked best in the debate, the overwhelming majority revealed Jack Layton's smiling face above his blue collar. Young people choosing the NDP platform is a wonderful thing to see, apart from any one election. Unfortunately, we learned almost nothing about why the young voters chose Layton. CBC Fail.
One of the young people in the pub said of choosing Layton, "That doesn't mean it will translate into voting for that party"; the same guy later said Stephen Harper was great. Whether he was already a confirmed Conservative voter (my guess) or whether his view was formed during the debate, again, we don't know.
If you missed it or are further interested in Canadian politics, you can watch video of the debate here.