Let’s put it this way; we could have used the swagger and unexpectedness Donald Trump presented in last nights US Republican debates in the Canadian leaders debate. Instead, the first hour the Canadian debate consisted of Conservative leader Stephen Harper doing what he does best which is misleading Canadians on facts. Green Party leader Elizabeth May catching Harper on misleading facts (which is why she needs to be in every debate). Liberal leader Justin Trudeau attacking the NDP leader Tom Mulcair over a non-issue regarding Quebec separatism because he’s lost a tremendous amount of support to Mulcair over the anti-terror bill. Finally Mulcair looked like he was part of some alien race freaking people out on social media with his weird smile, and alien like black eyes peering into their living rooms when he looked directly into the camera when debating the other leaders.
The two that had the best body language in the debate were the two national debate veterans, May and Harper. Trudeau came across as a kid with something to prove (Liberals think his downfall is due to Harper’s attack ads, not his position on supporting the new anti-terror bill. Liberals are still tone deaf on that because they have nothing to fear but fear itself), and Mulcair just looked nervous for the first hour. On the other hand May seemed very well prepared, however didn’t do well in the first hour to inject her voice over the others. Harper was calm and cool to begin with, however came across as though he got annoyed at the fact he actually had to debate the other parties and defend his record.
Those of us who follow Canadian politics closely saw relatively nothing new regarding policy positions. Harper played the expected “steady as you go” position on the economy warning that the opposition parties would raise taxes and put the country in a horrible economic position. Mulcair and May made a good point that corporate taxes have remained low, and the Bank of Canada has been extremely worried in the past that these corporations are just sitting on the money they saved from tax breaks rather than creating jobs.
The environment debate which happened in the second hour, May just owned it and the other parties let her have the floor. May called Harper to account on his environmental commitments, getting Harper to admit that emission reduction targets will not be reached by 2020, but by 2030. May also questioned Mulcair on his support of pipelines, which Mulcair remained non-committal on, and May kept pressing him on.
On the new anti-terror bill, there are stark differences between the parties. Harper said it was necessary; Trudeau is for and against the bill; Mulcair starkly pledged to Canadians he would repeal the bill (looking directly into the camera with his alien like black eyes) and if new powers were needed, Mulcair consult the experts first. Essentially Mulcair wants proof these new powers would be needed, and how to implement them in a way that doesn’t impede the rights of Canadians. Trudeau actually did admit that he may have been naive in his support of the anti-terror bill, but continues to support it.
I think the major news from this debate that Canadians need to be aware of, is not what happened during the debates but after. May, Trudeau and Mulcair all took questions from the press after the debate. Harper didn’t take any questions nor did he appear before the press after which I found very bizarre and arrogant. We’re in an election Harper. Deal with it!
All in all, I think it was a good introduction to the party leaders to those who do not follow politics closely. I don’t think this first debate will have that much of an impact on voters. If your a conservative supporter, you’re likely to remain that way and same with the other party’s supporters. Mulcair needs to bring his style of debating that he has during question period to future debates. That’s where he shines, and Trudeau needs to stop bouncing around like a boxer and listen to Canadians more as to why he’s so low in the polls: