Friday, October 03, 2008

Debate Thoughts

In looking at reaction, this seems to be one of those debates where everyone can find something. Last night's Ipsos poll gave it too Harper, Layton strong, Dion not so much. One huge caveat with that sample, they only polled for the first half of the debate, and I would surely concede Dion was much better in the second half. That said, you can go here, and everytime Harper uttered a word the reaction went into the earth's mantle, all others receiving good reaction. The Globe and Mail gives it too Dion by a whisker, others liked Layton, etc, etc, etc.

I thought Stephane started slowly, slightly uncomfortable, struggling to find his words. Layton came out hard straight away, and objectively you could say he was strong all night. May was refreshing and candid, although I think she faded as the night wore on and the debate centered more on the principles. Harper did better than the French language debate, but he was hammered on the economy, the environment and arts, so overall he still lost in my estimation.

Dion really hit his stride in the middle of the debate, especially when challenged, he reacted with a sincerity that I think connected. The thing about Layton for me, and I thought this when I voted for the NDP too, he is passionate and forceful, but he's also slick and very much looks like a seasoned politican (that's not a compliment). Still, Layton did what he wanted, I'm sure his handlers are happy. I just think that Dion's genuine nature gave him the edge, his words weren't contrived or opportunistic.

May's a novelty, so she receives added attention. However, she did demonstrate a real depth on issues outside of the environment, which is important for the Greens, looking to show they aren't a one issue policy. I thought May did well on the economy.

What we will wait to see now, if the polls move over the next few days. By Monday, we should start to have a sense of where the race is, heading into the final week.


Gayle said...

I pretty much agree with your assessment.

Dion clearly struggled with English, but I think he did what he had to do. I liked the way he spoke to the camera. He also seemed to be the only one who tried to sell his own platform rather than just complain about everyone else's.

Gayle said...

I do wish the other leaders would have asked him why he called an election if he does not have a platform and simply wants to "stay the course".

Couldn't have done that without spending 200 million tax dollars?

liberazzi said...


There was no clear winner in the debate. Dion's goal was to exceed expectation and get his message out without Harper's distortions, which I think he succeeded in doing. Dion's english is his disadvantage and there is not much more to be said on that. If voters are going to be prejudiced with regards to the way he talks, then there is not much that can be done to counteract that. Layton was forceful, but he was just tredging out his tired old lines and his juvenile little quips. Dion should have stated to Layton that it is easy to vote against the gov't when there are no consequences for doing so and when you have no chance of forming a govt. May was very good and probably made Dion's case better for him than he did, so hopefully there are some residual affects. Duceppe was good as usual, unfortunately he is a seperatist.

I do not if it is sour grapes on my part and James Curran is making the same point, but Layton going after Dion only helps Harper in the long run. Splitting the progressive vote, only hurts the cause, but I understand that you are supposed to do what is best for your party. However, are you not eventually supposed to do what is best for your country? Layton at best is going to gain 10 seats at the expense of giving Harper at least a minority. Yes I know not every Liberal can be considered a "progressive". Some MPs etc are in fact quite right of center, but its the old a vote for the Dips is a vote for Harper. The Libs are the lesser of two evils in the Dips minds. Non?

Anonymous said...

Harper withholds his platform and expects people to vote for his party. We are not in deficit yet, but he did away with the $3 billion cushion the Liberals had in place. So if we go into deficit, cuts will need to be made and he can make then at will. Break your law, call for an election, and wait until the end of the campaign to release your platform. Leaders like this are hard to find. Unfortunately, not hard enough.

Anonymous said...

and from the NDP POV, a vote for Dion is a vote for Harper.
the NDP stands for its principles, the LPC stands only for regaining power and access to our money.

Anonymous said...

I was a little miffed that the moderator strayed a bit into being a part of the debate. If he was going to "clarify" facts in the middle of an answer - as he did with Dion - Harper should never have gotten half his answers out. So the moderator hand was a bit of over-played at times.

At the same time, I appreciate that moderating 5 forceful personalities at a single table is not an easy task. I like how he rattled off the order of answering a few times to make damn sure the rules were set before they all started yapping.

I thought Dion was good. Now having watched both debates, I realize the English issue does affect him - not so much in what he says or how he is understood. But just because it shows in his face that he is concentrating on getting the words right. At times, very briefly, it makes him look "fearful" probably when he is searching for a word or phrase. This, of course, is what "soul-less gaze" Harper relishes. (If there is ever a remake of "Silence of the Lambs" I have someone in mind). But I think an open-minded viewer would understand, and he just exudes integrity and intelligence in his responses.

I truly appreciated that he looked at the camera and spoke to the person who submitted the question better than anyone else at the table. Did Layton ever once look at the camera or address the person who asked the question? By the end, he struck me as an "It's all about me" type of person, even though I liked some of what he had to say.

I loved May's concise, sharp, and truthful interjections every time Harper rattled off a lie or spun one of his mythology tales. She was quite effective in explaining policies as well. The only shortcoming I saw was her stumbling over "Do you want to nationalize private clinics?" inquiry by moderator (another time he decided to interject himself despite 4 other participants who could have pressed her if it were that critical). Elizabeth May was also the only person who consistently nodded when she agreed with someone else at the table, which I think probably endeared her to a lot of viewers.

Overall, I think all did well to some degree. If I had to order them, though, I'd list as follows (but note all got at least a B-, which is saying a lot):

1) May A-
2) Dion B+
3) Layton B
4) Harper B-
5) Duceppe B-

Final Note. If Harper's meanness - and that is exactly the word I feel is appropriate - wasn't so starkly apparent, I would have said more.

Dion's finest moment, in my opinion, was when he directly confronted Harper on his painting of anyone who disagrees with him an "enemy."

JimmE said...

So let me get this straight. The entire Tory campaign is at best a snooze fest, Harper is caught filching a major policy speech(gaining him world wide criticism ) he has no platform, and a stone age agenda (that a majority of Canadians don't like) and the Kiss & tell book comes out. The Liberal campaign starts to show some life, Dion wins or ties the french debate, exceeds expectations in the English. And the EFFING POLLS GO DOWN for the Liberals?
Christmas on a cracker, who the EFF are these lame brains talking to? What kind of leading questions do they ask? [Do you think Mr Harper will be a great PM, a Good PM or just the Next PM?]
I know the papers bury their positive news about Dion & focus on Harper "turning back all comers" in their headlines, but where the EFF are the so called journalists who ask probing questions?

liberazzi said...

Where are the Dips principles with regards to aggressively taking on the Libs in order to incrementally increase their seat total, which might come at the expense of voting in another Harper govt? The Dips have no chance at forming a govt and no chance of even becoming the official opposition. If Harper wins a majority, do you think he is even going to look sideways at Layton? There is no hidden agenda when it comes to Harper, it is quite clear what he stands for and where he wants to take this country. Is this what Layton wants? I think all Layton wants is to say, look at me, we gained 5 more seats. Yay! In meantime, it will be cut, cut, cut, cut. Climate change? That's some crazy socialist theory, that is trying to destroy capitalism. So the Dips can have their principles and their moral victories. I would have thought that their supporters would appreciate a govt with a more progressive outlook.

Layton should have taken his que from May, who went after the real enemy, while promoting her own cause, but not directly attacking the Libs. Then if voters still prefer the Greens or the Libs then so be it, but do not aggressively try and take down the one party that has a shot of implementing their progressive ideals for your own self-interest.

Anonymous said...

What new polls are you looking at that have any impact from the debates? Everything I see right now is from yesterday, which doesn't even include the French debate?

And in case anyone could possibly be confused, my comments about integrity, sincerity etc were about Dion, not soulless gaze man ; ).

Tootrusting said...

"One huge caveat with that sample, they only polled for the first half of the debate"

This is why I give up on the MSM and some polling companies, I can get more useful information by bashing my head against a brick wall that by listening to this lot.

I haven't bothered to read their "informed opinion" on the results, my opinion for what its worth is that it was close to a draw with Dion maybe 3rd behind Harper and Layton, he was far better in French

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed both debates. The french one was more spirited, Dion was much more focused, which is easy to understand since this is his language and his thoughts come more quickly and also fully formed. Same for Duceppe. The rest of them had the same careful expression, suggesting consideration of word choice before speaking, that then appeared on Dion and Duceppe's faces the next night. Canadians can relate to this and understand the principles of using a second language. I enjoyed the gentlemanly behaviour displayed between Duceppe and Dion. Both men acquitted themselves well as men of honour and principle, capable of intelligent and interesting disagreement, both demonstarting a grasp and lnowledge of the issues that goes beyond just the rehearsed, memorized performances of Harper and Layton. May was very clear and candid and a very welcome addition to this round table discussion.

Dion clearly demonstrated his qualifications to lead this country into the 21st century. He was the only candidate talking directly to Canada as a whole, as opposed to some region or segment or targeted base. Even May is guilty of that - which inevitably leads to self-interest being deployed too much, a la vote for me to help my party grow, or to help the oil patch solidify their power, as is the case with Harper.

This leads me to the point I wished to make and that is that this two economies idea that was brought up is a point that needs emphasis this weekend. One for the oil patch, one for the rest of us. This leads into the reality those of us watching have observed and that is that their are then two of everything, two, economies, two election campaigns, two ways to cover this, etc. One is in the open, the other is hidden. Lastly, who scheuled our one and only english language debate the same night as the hyped, over-publisized VP debate in the US? I would like to see a poll telling us how many viewers tuned out and was this planned and should we have another one?

-Blackstar... Gotta go so sorry for the typos

Saskboy said...

JimmE I couldn't agree with you more. Canada is upside down. Facts don't matter, only advertising budgets do.

Steve V "May's a novelty, so she receives added attention. However, she did demonstrate a real depth on issues outside of the environment,"

I don't really agree with your overall assessment. To consider May a sideshow is a disservice to your credibility. She clearly had a mastery of the facts, and called Harper on every one of his lies, even when the other leaders had no apparent ability to toss damaging facts at him. Calling her a sideshow or a novelty makes me wonder if you even watched the debate.

Anonymous said...

I am really of the opinion that these polls directly influence voters opinion and lead to nothing more than reflexivity.

One also wonders how close to reality these polls are, when on average, they poll only 1000-1300 people. Stats are only reliable when comparing large numbers.

Steve V said...


I meant a media novelty. I think she is a serious leader, but the media framed it like she won because we didn't know her, May's coming out party. That, to me, is silliness, but reality I suppose. I would have like it more if they concentrated on the policies, rather than "hey look at the new girl".

Hope that clarifies.

JimmE said...


Todays Glob & Pail

& the TO Daily Star dust

Saskboy said...

Yes, she was a bit of a media novelty too, except if you ignore that aspect of it all, she provided the most facts of the night and refuted Harper with them, and with calls on his BS. Dion did alright too, and so did Layton and Duceppe as far as debating they rarely were taken to task. Duceppe walked away unscathed from what I remember. But Harper was so completely defeated, it's a travesty for the media to say that he won in any respect.

Steve V said...

Oh, I thought she did quite well. I did mention the post that she was quite able on the economy.

Saskboy said...

OK, from how you said it though, starting with the novelty (excuse it seemed to me at first) I thought the rest was in the context of that. You know, like people saying Palin did well because they thought she'd choke on the microphone or something. When actually Palin bombed in the debate, and May excelled in her's.