This debate was certainly more lively than the ones before it. My guess is because it's post-Super Weekend, so the delegates are already selected. This means that:
a) The front-runners don't have to worry as much about appealing immediately to Liberals
b) The back-runners don't have to worry about anything.
Ignatieff VS Dion, re: the environment - Uhm, wow. That was exhilarating! I quite enjoyed watching that. Dion definitely showcased his combativeness, which is something I like about him. He took the Chretien-like approach of vigourously defending Liberal policy, as opposed to Ignatieff admitting mistakes. Whomever you agree with, that was certainly lively. It was also kind of funny watching Dryden just cede the floor to the two major candidates. I think he knows he really shouldn't be there. If any of the final 8 drops out early, I think it will be Dryden.
The same-sex softball - That was a great moment. And how funny that Brison would get it. "I have to be very careful because my answer could result in a same-sex divorce." I laughed, anyway. But really, the most serendipitous aspect of this moment was Volpe getting put on the spot. He was a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, and only changed his mind when it meant his cabinet spot. I guarantee you if Paul Martin had allowed a totally free vote, Volpe would have voted against same-sex marriage. So watching him on stage defending it was kind of... awkward. (Seriously, though, what a softball question. If it had been anyone but Volpe up there, there wouldn't have been anything resembling debate.)
Rae VS Ignatieff, re: foreign policy - Wow. That
got personal. If you missed it, Ignatieff accused Rae of having an indeterminate position on the Afghan mission (saying we need to prevail, and also saying he'd vote against the mission). Rae countered by saying, "I'm not the one who's changed my mind three times in a week on the middle east issue." Not to be outdone, Ignatieff made it personal. "You've known me for forty years, you know that's not true." Thank god Martha Hall Findlay was there with her den-motherly, "Boys!" to get them to calm down, 'cause that could have gotten ugly.
Scott Brison: "It is irresponsible to be basing important policy on perception." That's a paraphrase, of course. But Brison was really on fire in this debate. He had a lot of good quotes that I didn't manage to write down.
Stephane Dion (dismissively): "Yes, Harper is awful, but..." Quite possibly the best line of the debate.
Joe Volpe: "I get the feeling I'm the wrong guy to be asking about whether the federal government should regulate the media." Alright, that was a good one.Closings
Martha Hall Findlay: A fantastic closing. She's running to the end because, in 2006, it would be shameful if the Liberals did not have a woman on the stage at the convention. Stephen Harper is playing divisive and internationally harmful games regarding Israel.
Stephane Dion: Stephen Harper's solution to social policy is to build more jails and put children in them. Harper is dividing the nation, not uniting it. Dion has always been clear in his words and actions, and has never had to apologize for any of them (an overt shot at Ignatieff, and a good one, too). He's the only major candidate who has run in federal elections stretching back to 1996. And it didn't take a leadership race to get him to become a Liberal. (Shots at Rae and Ignatieff.) All in all, a pretty good closing.
Gerard Kennedy: Need to talk about the reform of the Liberal party - we must re-connect with Canadians. Liberals need to re-invent themselves because the country needs it. We need to let go of the things that hold us back. Kennedy actually impressed me with this closing, a lot more than he has before. I'm starting to warm to him.
Ken Dryden: "Mr. Harper can't deal with life that doesn't conform to the way he thinks it should be." An inspiring closing - the hockey metaphor was fitting. I wouldn't be surprised to see him drop off soon, he's made his point.
Scott Brison: "I played hockey too." (That was good.) And I was very distracted for the rest of it, so I can't comment.
Michael Ignatieff: "The energy, the passion, the humour, the conviction, is something we'll all remember." He's got that right - that was a good debate. His closing was really good too. I admittedly was a bit distracted while listening to it, but I know when I was tuning in I was impressed.
And I missed the rest completely. (This is what happens when I try to multi-task!)
(Note: All quotes are paraphrases. I couldn't get it all down fast enough.)