Idea alert


Martin Goldfarb says the next election should include a televised debate between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition.

The public wants to see Stephen Harper face off against Michael Ignatieff. The public needs this opportunity because it’s only through such a discussion that Canadians can discover the leaders’ inner reality. In our democracy, we need to give the key contenders the opportunity to position themselves, to define what they want you to think of them and the party they represent. What Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff say in the debate is reality TV. The whole country will be watching.

In 2008, before an election was called, Stephane Dion challenged Mr. Harper to a debate on the environment, but the offer was declined.


Idea alert

  1. I propose this be one of many new debates, including a truly-all candidates debate.

  2. How about a debate of only the opposition parties where they aren't allowed to mention the government or the Conservatives. This would give voters a chance to compare the opposition parties to see how they are distinct from each other, aside from simply being "against the Conservatives".

  3. The flaws of a current government are perhaps the most important aspect of ANY election.

  4. While I agree the only ones involved should be the two main parties, debates are for high school.

    We need both leaders, seated with a moderator, talking….it's the only way they'll get into a conversation and allow the audience to compare the two.

    And the major question put to them should be 'Where do you see this country in 5-10 years time….where do you want to take us…what is your vision for Canada?'

    The rest of the conversation should revolve around that…not bumf about gopher holes somewhere, or policy questions about some other minor thing that allows them to quote stats and never really answer.

    'Debates' just give us endless talking points and slogans.

  5. An American-style debate, between the two main contenders, could be an improvement over the current system.

    As an aside, since Aaron mentioned Harper's refusal to debate Dion, it should also be mentioned that Paul Martin refused to debate Duceppe one-on-one, and Duceppe refused to debate Harper one-on-one, back in 2005/06. However, there was never a proposal to have a debate between Harper and Martin back then (not that I'm aware of).

  6. For the Leaders' debates, there ought to be a requirement that only those leaders whose parties are running candidates in at least 90% (give or take) of federal ridings should be allowed to participate. It really makes no sense for Duceppe to be part of debates when most of the country can't vote for his party. At the very least , restrict him to the French debates.

  7. Jack Layton probably has more of a chance of being PM (coalition) than Michael Ignatieff does.

    The person with the biggest chance is Bob Rae (coalition, party coup).

    This makes no sense unless you're a big time Liberal booster.

    Partisan Tricks Cats

  8. You must have never watched the endless panels on Power Play and Power and Politics eh ?

    All of these discussions become "talking points" and "slogans".

    Dissapointed Cats

  9. But they'll elect candidtes which vote on every issue, so I would say it makes a great deal of sense to include him.

  10. I think it's a great idea, but I would pay to see a debate between Layton and Harper.

  11. I'd say that Harper should debate each of the opposition leaders one on one, the opposition leaders should all debate each other, and then we should have the regular group debates….kind of round robin thing. I'd include the Bloc in that too, since they are major players in the national scene even if they don't run candidates outside of Quebec.

  12. Why not put em right out on reality island? Somewhere nice and sunny where they need to fend for themselves – you know the deal.

    MI: I think we ought to have a vote on who decides what our prorities are going to be vs vis food gathering, hygiene and parliamentary etiquete in such matters; and furthermore, how 're we going to divide up our one and only chocolate bar in the most equitable manner.

    JL: Yes, and we should look for something that resembles a kitchen table to gather around too!!

    'What do you think Stephen? I'm sure you agree?'

    GD: If you believe dat, then your Gran mudder must have been a tractor. I just seen im legging into the bush over dare wid dat dere damn chocolate bar!

    MI: What! We had better call the speaker, get hold of face book!

    JL: No.No. This calls for a full public inquiry!

    GD. Sacre bleu! And day wunder why we want to separate!

  13. Mr Harper will try to sidestep any debates.
    The attack ads are more effective for his purposes. If he debates MI one on one, the potential downside is larger than the potential gain.
    If he debates the whole gang, it's a three against one donnybrook, although this is likely preferable to the one on one.

    Better to look for reasons to avoid the debates and instead have Mike Duffy host an infomercial

  14. Martin Goldfarb is a Liberal.

    That doesn't magically invalidate whatever he's saying, but in this case he's suggesting something that would have a massive partisan benefit for his own party.

    If that qualifies as an "idea alert" then the whole concept seems meaningless.

  15. Gophers holes and policy are important to many voters.

  16. Why restrict him to French debates. There are anglophone speakers in Quebec, too. I do agree, though, that it would make more sense to restrict those debates involving Duceppe to Quebec media outlets (in both official languages).

  17. Sudden death or shootouts?

  18. I find it amusing that Mr. Goldfarb cites with relish the Turner-Mulroney debate. Also sir, I am no fancy pants big city pollster, but if you're trying to talk two political leaders into abandoning the script and baring their souls to the nation, my informal market research suggests the this is unhelpful: "That brief exchange created an image of Mr. Turner's not having a mind of his own, not doing what he believed was right. His few words provided an inside look at who he was that destroyed his political future."

    I think you may have stumbled upon why they like to stick to the script.

  19. Minor local issues….the PM is supposed to be looking after the country as a whole

  20. As I've mentioned to posters in these threads before, the title says "Idea Alert" not "Good Idea Alert".

  21. Plus, the last time he accidentally wandered into a Leaders' Debate his party ended up having to put out an actual election platform! I'd bet that Harper's going to try to avoid making THAT mistake again.

  22. I like the idea of putting all four federal leaders on an island somewhere. Could we just do that and then STOP THERE?

  23. Why be chintzy.. can't we do both?

  24. Refusing to debate Duceppe makes sense to me. I bet he would have refused to debate the yogic fliers, the Rhinos, and the communists as none of their leaders were running for his job, either.

  25. The Mulroney Turner debate also featured one Mr. Broadbent. Despite the great one liners of Mulroney (in 1984) and of Turner (in 1988), Broadbent arguably won both of these debates. But nobody remembers it because he was leading a party that had (and has) no chance or desire of ever formaing a government.

  26. At the time (2006), pollsters were predicting a near-sweep of Quebec by the Bloc. Further complicating matters for the Liberals, Paul Martin announced during the campaign that the federal election was going to be a "referendum election." Feel free to look it up if you don't believe me. Further again, it was Martin that challenged Duceppe to a one-on-one debate "any time, any place, anywhere" etc etc… only to shy away, waffle, dither, etc in his customary fashion as leader of the Liberals.

    That being said, can we really equate debating Duceppe with debating the person who runs the Rhinos (whoever that may be)? I don't believe it's such an easy comparison.

  27. I think it's a bone-headed idea that plays into the illusion that our voting system is fair. Excluding the other party leaders would be both undemocratic and unfair. No matter how badly the Liberals want to frame it that way, this is not a two-horse race. It's 308 elections in 308 ridings. The Liberals are barely alive in the west.
    Check out the Catch 22 campaign to see how voters can take matters into their own hands and rid the country of the "Harper government".

  28. With the Liberals just a few points ahead of the NDP, this is just Goldfarb revealing his Liberal partisanship.

    As for Dion, if he'd proposed a debate without limiting it to just a single topic where he believed he had an advantage, then he might have got a yes.

    Wherry's idea alerts should be renamed "bad idea alerts".

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