4.13.2011

ignatieff shines in leaders' debate; cbc does not

Last night's leaders' debate, in my view, was no small triumph for the Liberal Party.

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 responses lies is another question.

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.

6 comments:

M@ said...

I thought Ignatieff did pretty well, too. The one slip-up, I thought, was when he said to Layton "Jack, you're never going to form the government." While it's true, it was completely the wrong tone. He could have attacked Layton for the same thing in a different way, but this open attack seemed over the top.

But that's a small thing. I have this tradition where I listen to, but don't watch, the Canadian election debates. It started more out of necessity but now it's just what I do. Last night I played Bejewelled solidly while they were on.

Both Layton and Ignatieff came across as sincere. Duceppe didn't seem as strong in this debate as he has in the past (I missed hearing, though appreciated, his opening jab at Harper).

Harper came across to some as being disrespectful and above it all (and to some, as being on horse tranquilizers). What he sounded like to me was calm and reasoned, although also impatient and condescending. I certainly didn't like him any more than I did before, and of course his constant "that simply isn't true" just rang false after a while. But he did nothing that will pull him down in the polls.

We'll see by this weekend, I think, whether anything changes. My guess is that the polls will continue on their current trend -- the Liberals slowly sliding up, especially in Ontario, but not seriously threatening the CPC numbers.

...so there are my thoughts.

laura k said...

The one slip-up, I thought, was when he said to Layton "Jack, you're never going to form the government." While it's true, it was completely the wrong tone.

I agree. It seemed a little desperate to me.

Post-debate analysts were harping on Ignatieff saying the party that wins the most seats has the right to try to win the confidence of the House, as opposed to the right to govern. I really wonder how much that matters to voters.

Duceppe didn't seem as strong in this debate as he has in the past (I missed hearing, though appreciated, his opening jab at Harper).

I agree. Duceppe seemed off his game. He is usually an amazing debater. He was good - but not up to his usual standards.

Harper came across to some as being disrespectful and above it all (and to some, as being on horse tranquilizers). What he sounded like to me was calm and reasoned, although also impatient and condescending.

I agree on all points.

My guess is that the polls will continue on their current trend -- the Liberals slowly sliding up, especially in Ontario, but not seriously threatening the CPC numbers.

It's very sad and depressing and terrible that Harper's crimes against democracy appear to matter so little to the majority of the Canadian public.

Thanks for your thoughts, M@!

M@ said...

It's very sad and depressing and terrible that Harper's crimes against democracy appear to matter so little to the majority of the Canadian public.

It's very frustrating. I gather many people won't wake up to this until it affects them personally, and by then it will be much too late.

For anyone who actually cares and understands how parliament works, the stuff Ignatieff was saying about winning the confidence of the house was a THANK YOU FOR FINALLY SAYING THIS SOMEONE kind of moment. Again, though, who's going to care if they don't already?

laura k said...

Another thing I really liked: when Duceppe mentioned abortion and capital punishment, and the Tory stealth strategy of using private member's bills instead of government legislation. Same as above, I doubt this registered with too many people, but I was damn glad someone said it.

I also liked hearing the word ABORTION instead of that dreadful US euphemism, "a woman's right to choose".

M@ said...

On the subject of Ignatieff and Harper's differing views of how parliament works:

Harper's vision of how to form a government undermined by constitutional facts

Dharma Seeker said...

I was glued to my seat!

@Matt I think you missed some of the best parts by not "watching"! Duceppe's facial expressions were pure gold, as was watching Harper dry-hump the camera instead of looking at his opponents :)