Friday, December 16, 2005

The debate, without translators

The Opening Statements

Paul: Starts with the economy, which is definitely his strong point. Tax cuts, balanced budgets. Laundry list, followed by the National Unity card. He's definitely at his best when reading off a script.

Gilles: Moral authority to govern, buying Quebeckers. We all knew what he'd say. Gomery and sponsorship. Etc. etc.

Jack: Getting results for people - that's the buzzword, or words. Stoping privatization, and doing something about drug costs. Also mentions Broadbent's ethics package.

Stephen: Accountability, getting on with addressing the real concerns of Canadian families (like same-sex marriage?), and one wonders where he's going to get the money to fulfill all these promises. Ah well, they sound good anyway.

The Questions

Social Policy

Gay Marriage

First question is about gay marriage - damn. That's what my question was about. Does this mean it's not going to get asked?

Stephen Harper once again keeps his position muddled - he's revoke same-sex marriage, without using the notwithstanding clause.

Paul Martin: no cherry-picking among rights. We've heard this one before. He goes after Harper's inconsistent position; the job of the prime minister is to protect rights.

Jack Layton is responding directly to the questioner, by name - that's a great touch Jack. He's "very proud" of fighting for gay rights for the last twenty years. He's doing a good job this time around, not like his jumpy performance last time.

Gilles Duceppe's answer, also predictable. "Society is not really free when someone is not free." Nice one.

Paul Martin is doing pretty well on this question. He's only partially ad-libbing, but he's not stumbling as much as usual. Good on him.

Harper says that the courts should interpret the Charter... huh? Doesn't he think the courts should just accede to whatever parliament wants? I'm confused...


For the question, nice backdrop - gun store. Or maybe the guy's personal stash? Either way, lots of guns.

Paul promises to ban handguns - which, as we all know, are already banned. Is he planning on making them super-duper banned? Who knows.

The moderator says that there was an Email from a correction's officer saying the root cause of crime is poverty.

Stephen Harper disagrees - he thinks crime happens because we don't punish people hard enough.

Jack Layton once again addresses the Emailer himself - "the corrections officer says". He's playing the man of the people.


Blah. I'm so tired of hearing about healthcare, personally.

Uh oh, Paul's starting to stumble again.

Ethics and Governance

The Sponsorship Scandal

Yay, Stephen's favourite topic.

Paul: "I did not hesitate for one minute" to call the Gomery Inquiry. He's got a point. That's one thing I admire him for, he didn't try to cover up the scandal.

Gilles: "Give the names, so the population can know... who received that money illegally?" I don't like this new format - Paul can't respond, and flutter and stumble over that question. This format is definitely working in Martin's favour.

Harper drops Allan Cutler's name, which does add some credibility. Cutler blew the whistle on the scandal, and is now a Conservative candidate.

Layton promises proportional representation and ending corporate tax give-aways to stop para-governmental influence in government. He calls for democratic and ethical reform, etc. etc.

Martin: "Now let me mention my father, in an obligatory and awkward fashion." Oops, wrong speech.

MPs defecting

Oooh, the Belinda question!

Gilles Duceppe shrugs it off, saying "Our British parliamentary tradition works like that." I completely agree. And of course Gilles would agree - the Bloc Quebecois was formed by floor-crossers, after all. But he's quick to condemn "personal ambition".

Jack Layton opposes "hopping back and forth across the House". "The next time Belinda Stronach wants to cross the floor, she should have to go back to her voters first."

Paul Martin talks about increasing the number of free votes - which he has, of course, done, and I applaud him for. He supports floor-crossing if the party doesn't support the views of the elected MP, *cough*Belinda.

Harper: "I understand the frustration" of floor crossing. No shit, he lost one of his star MPs to it! Harper does rightly oppose legislation restricting floor crossing, as it would give too much power to the leaders. Hahah! "I find it funny that Mr. Martin wants to ban private donations when his party stole public donations." Good one.

Promise Made, Promise Kept

So, should MPs have to resign if they don't keep their promises? Sheila Copps would certainly be hesitant to agree to that one!

Legislation like that would "bog us down in the courts" says Harper.

Martin says that the electorate ought to punish parties that do not keep their promises. Hey, Paul - shut up! Don't tempt them!

Jack Layton: "He has been breaking promises for so long that he doesn't even recognize he's doing it." Another good line. And hey, he brings Bono into it too, "Bono isn't supporting him anymore." Layton lists a string of broken-promises. "Don't vote for a party that breaks its promises, send some New Democrats to make sure they're kept."

Duceppe points out that the Liberals campaigned in 1988 and 1993 against Free Trade, and yet the first thing they did when elected was change their minds. Yeah, pretty much. Fortunately, it was a good flip-flop, as free trade is a good idea.

MPs doing their jobs

Jack just got his dream question: "What will you do to make sure MPs get to work on the nation's business." Jack points out that he went to work on the budget - boy, did he ever!

Harper: Our party tried to work in a reasonable way. Hahahah! Oh, that's rich. Promising to vote for the budget, then voting against it when their poll numbers went up? Please.

Moderator says that a rock star she accompanied Question Period with was "shocked" at the behaviour. Shocking a rock star - ouch.

Jack says Canada should have more women in parliament, as the tone of the House would change. I don't know - Diane Ablonczy and Helena Guergis are women...

Side Note

Hey, uhm... does anyone notice how the moderator keeps cutting Mr. Harper off in a very terse tone?

Economy, Taxes and Trade


Another issue I'm tired of hearing about.

The Liberals want to spend lots of money on childcare, the NDP wants to spend more, the Conservatives want to spend the same as the Liberals but instead just handing out $1200 to families instead of actually doing anything constructive. Hmm... I wasn't aware that $4 a day was enough to put children in childcare. I'll take the less expensive one that actually does something significant, thanks. The Bloc... ah, who cares.

Atlantic Canada as a Have-Not Area

Harper speaks - Atlantic Canadians boo and hiss. He has the dubious honour of being the only person ever unanimously condemned by the Nova Scotia legislature, of course, for his "culture of defeat" comments.

Renegotiating NAFTA

It's a good one - if the Americans aren't going to play by the rules, why should we?

Jack Layton - he doesn't like NAFTA. Surprised?

Martin says we have to insist that trading partners honour their agreements. Uhm... except the Americans?

Harper says we should take action and look at retaliatory measures. That's kind of a surprise, considering Canadian conservatives usually have their noses buried firmly in American arse.

Martin points out, "I went on American TV and said they were wrong on the environment. Mr. Harper went on American TV and said we were wrong not to join the Iraq war."

Harper's mic just got cut. I honestly think the moderator's out to get him... oh, so did Jack's. Nevermind.

GST vs Income Tax cuts

Uhm... okay. The question was, how do people without an income benefit from income tax cuts. Martin answered the question as if the questioner (a disabled woman) did have an income. That's a bit Orwellian.

Of course, the GST cut, as Jack called it, "A few pennies here and there". Yeah, that's pretty much what it is. Hmm... Layton's got a backstory for everything. "My family's from the east coast. They were blind and poor." Aww.

National Unity


Does anyone even need to cover this one?

Paul: Boo sovereignty.

Gilles: Yay sovereignty.

Jack and Stephen: The Liberals have done more to advance sovierengty, blah blah blah.

Woah. Paul gives the most impassioned speech of the night on this one, though. He goes right after Duceppe. Demonizes him like mad. "You're not going to destroy my country... You're not gonna win, Mr. Duceppe, let me tell you that." Spoken like the hero, with Duceppe as the villain. It's too bad Duceppe couldn't come back at him. I have the feeling that, if this idiotic format were different, that exchange could have conceivably been like the famous Mulroney-Turner showdown in 1988.

Western Alienation

Bah. No one cares about the west.

No but seriously, we all know this one too. Martin favours the status quo (in more words than that), Harper favours Senate reform and fixed election dates, and Layton says New Democrats will speak for westerners when they elect them. Duceppe: "The west wants in, Quebec wants out."

What's the Big Picture: What does Canada look like in 50 Years?

I gotta give the best line here to Martin: "We are where the world is going, not where it has been."

The Closing Statements

Paul: We have made deficits a thing of the past, lowered employment to a level not seen since the early 1970's. Mr. Harper would take us off this road. Oh, Paul said Merry Christmas! War on Christmas indeed, right-winger!

Jack: Isn't it time to elect people who will work for us? Cleaning up corruption, doing more of what the NDP has already done. Oh, even the socialist said Christmas. Damn!

Gilles: The Liberals have to be sanctioned for all their sins. Yup, we know, we know. Though he does point out that not one elected Liberal has been sanctioned. Yes Gilles, that's very true. Ooh, more Christmas. Can't let the others have that one.

Stephen: A pretty good closing for Stephen too. Oh, wait for it, wait for it - Merry Christmas, there it is.

Final Thoughts:

This format is SO BORING. Just thinking about past debates makes me wish they could actually, you know, DEBATE each other! This is so ridiculous, it's just a bunch of talking heads.

Oh, and also... they didn't use my question. Damn.


At 12/17/2005 2:13 a.m., Blogger RJL said...

I thought the same thing watching this debate: boring! I hope they change the format for the debates in January. If not, why bother having them.

Each leader might as well just go on TV for half an hour and say their spiel.

At 12/17/2005 10:36 p.m., Blogger lecentre said...

Good suggestion rjl.
At any rate, this was nice coverage of the debate, and humorous too, which made it a pleasant read.
I'd like to ask you to join my blog, Centrerion, which is about federal politics, generally written from a centrist view. I feel that you've generally got that point of view, and think you'd be a good addition.
Thanks again for the good post, and for your time
p.s. I've sent you an invite.


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