What’s the real issue here? - Macleans.ca

What’s the real issue here?

In this election, debate on policy has taken a back seat


In last week’s English-language debate, Stephen Harper didn’t bother mentioning his income-splitting plan or proposed fitness tax credit. Neither Jack Layton nor Michael Ignatieff talked about their support for cap and trade policies. Layton only brought up old age pensions once and Ignatieff only squeezed in one mention of his home renovation tax-credit promise. In fact, there was almost no policy discussion at all.

That explains why there were significantly fewer mentions of the major policy issues in newspapers following the debate, says Stuart Soroka, the McGill University political scientist who runs the Federal Election Newspaper Analysis Project. (Soroka tracks which issues get written about in eight major English language papers, and the tone of the coverage. Maclean’s publishes analysis of the results each week.) “The debate seems almost invisible,” says Soroka, referring to its impact on the statistics. “If the objective was to get people to think more seriously about policy differences, it sure didn’t happen.” Only health care was written about in a greater share of stories following the debate, up from 12 to 14 per cent. Crime and justice fell from 54 to 31 per cent. Even the economy dropped from 32 to 22 per cent.

Not all debates are so unmoving. When Martin challenged Harper on gay marriage and abortion in 2004, social issues moved to the front pages. In 2008, coverage shifted to the economy after the debate.

While there was no clear winner, Harper improved his share of “first-mentions.” His name came first in 71 per cent of the stories analyzed, up from 63 per cent. That was mainly at the expense of Ignatieff, who dropped from 21 to 15 per cent.

As for buzzwords, “coalition” still garnered 123 mentions last week and “contempt” hung on to 52 mentions. But “income splitting” fell from 30 to seven, “home renovation” dropped from nine to three and “learning passport” plunged from 12 to zero. “The debate was really a missed opportunity,” says Soroka. “If you tuned in to learn about policy differences between the parties, you probably didn’t learn anything.” Nor did you, apparently, in the newspaper coverage that followed.


What’s the real issue here?

  1. .
    All the commentary I ever read in comment sections and blogs is water-under-the-bridge 20th century analysis; ideological Lib/Con/NDP historical spats and quarrels.

    There will be a surge of support even here in B.C. when/if people understand Harper and Ignatieff's future sell-out to their overlords in Beijing, and understand the latter's clever intellectual property rights retained under the WTO, hear the British study projecting 2013 for China to overtake the U.S. in published scientific papers, and that only strengthened unions, collective bargaining, a reversal of Wisconsin-ization of labour can keep Canada from reverting to being hewers of wood and drawers of water; and to making computer tablets for Baidu's cloud servers for wages of $1/day.

    If that's what you want, go ahead, vote LibCon.

    But you're not required to. Yet.

  2. Cynical voters, unnecessary partisanship is dividing this Country, issues such as Foreign Ownership of vitall Canadian resources goes ignored by our sellout leaders and media. By the time Canadians wake up, Canada would all but sold out to aliens- Foregin Multinational corporations some of them -terrorists sponsoring the killing of our soldiers. We risk ending up nothing but Corporate Slaves.

  3. News- Chinese bank just landed in Toronto $300 billions (US) to invest? what's i n their shopping list? They can grab some of l our natural resources, Parliament building , CN rail, CP, CN tower, all the key prime agricultural lands? does any really care about Canada's resources foreign exploitation?? . What's a Country when Citizens would be reduced to nothing but Corporate Workers, who will not own/control anything of value in their own country? Canada is heading in the way of DRC- "democratic" "republic of Congo- "poorest" as per UN reports- yet richer in resources than Canada. Congolese are slaves in their own Country. Sadly all our leaders are sellouts -Harper more so, he is a willing corporate lapdog- so called fan of open-free market economies. Hidden agenda- "small Govt." really means destruction of Govt. structures – privatise services deliveries to citizens. Our taxes pay for corporate private meetings of lapdogs (G8/G20) puppets of New One Worder corporate Rule.! The People must Govern!