“I’m not interested in having multiple debates”

Stephen Harper backs out of proposed one-on-one debate with Michael Ignatieff


During the televised four-headed leaders’ debates of 2006, Paul Martin went off on one of his trademark tangents, declaring he would be delighted to debate Gilles Duceppe anywhere, any time, about the future of Quebec’s place in (or, to be fair, out of) Canada. Then he got cut off and the moderator changed the subject and the moment was lost.

But Duceppe, no fool, announced in Montreal the day after the debates that he would be delighted to take Martin up on the offer. “Here I am!” he announced gleefully.

The then-prime minister made himself small while his staff put out remarks to the effect that he had a full schedule and couldn’t be expected to do another debate after the two (French and English) just televised. But somebody else would. Stephen Harper.

With the televised consortium debate already finished, the Stephen Harper Conservative campaign put out a news release formally offering to debate Duceppe one-on-one where Martin wouldn’t. “If Paul Martin refuses to stand up for Canada, Stephen Harper will,” one of his helpers told reporters. I fussed over this moment a bit in my book, writing that it was a moment when Stephen Harper began to look and sound like a prime minister.

Today Harper said he isn’t interested in any debates beyond the televised four-headed network consortium debate.


“I’m not interested in having multiple debates”

  1. This has the potential for a clever/funny/cutting attack ad.

  2. It's an interesting example of the kinds of decisions you make when you have something to lose compared to the decisions you make when you don't.

    Harper is going to have to start putting himself out there more than he is, however — Iggy's chipping away, and there has been precious little fight-back from Harper outside 'coalition coalition coalition!'.

  3. I am sick to death of "attack ads"……

  4. Wow. It is unbelievable to see Harper walk right into the same trap that Martin walked into 5 years ago.

    Too bad. We do need the all-leaders debates we have now, but there really should be an extra debate between the 2 front runners without the noise of the also rans.

    Come on Harper, Ignatieff…get a real nonpartisan like Paikin or Coyne to moderate and find a way to make this happen.

  5. Why did the chicken cross the road?

    That's debatable.

  6. It is a little surprising, given Harper's all-in talk to his own people. There is no doubt, a safe campaign by the Conservatives nets them a new mandate, albeit in a minority parliament. This would likely give them a few years of easy governing: the Liberals will be short of cash, likely go through an involved Leadership process pushing them collectively into debt. We have lived that scenario. Ok, it is not surprising at all. As I said, Harper is a pretty clever politician.

  7. A girl proposes marriage to Michael Ignatieff. Michael Ignatieff turns her down. Subsequently Ignatieff asserts, I will marry that girl "any place, any time" . Why should the girl propose again? Would you?

    Election campaigns are 36 days. Each debate takes out 2 days (i.e. one day for debate prep). So the consortium debates take 4 days or over 10% of the campaign time of a leader already.

    Harper was willing to take the heat for excluding the NDP and the Bloc. Ignatieff was NOT.

    He wanted to have his cake, and eat it to.

  8. I like that, for some fowl reason.

  9. Watching Harper in these early days it seems to me that he is resentful of the entire exercise and increasingly can't be bothered to hide his irritation, he's pi$$ed off at the indignity of having to ask for the power that he feels was stolen from him. I think things are going to go from bad to worse for the Conservatives in this campaign. Hell, the man is using a media cage already and it's only day five.

  10. Coyne would just spend the entire debate lecturing Harper and Ignatieff, along with the viewers, as to why his ideas on EVERYTHING were the right ones and how EVERYBODY should adopt them RIGHT NOW!

  11. Ignatieff never declined. This is a lie.

    Were you paid for this comment ?

  12. He's no Rooster Cogburn.

  13. shouldIsellyourwheat, a typical uniformed and confused CPC response

    Harper challenged Iggy in a bit of bravado, clearly a dumb idea on his part, now he's backing down. simple… first big mistake off the campaign

  14. Yes indeed. Adding another debate would take time away from flying pointlessly around the country to look busy while meeting almost no-one.

    Far as I can tell, the current leaders' tour campaigns could be done as usefully from a fixed-location TV studio, especially Harper's bubble campaign.

    Harper could fly his human props to his studio rather than crisscrossing the country with his staff and the media just to attend staged events. The reduced carbon footprint alone would justify it.

  15. "There is no doubt, a safe campaign by the Conservatives nets them a new mandate, albeit in a minority parliament."

    I think he's tempting fate. He has set the bar himself: majority. He'd probably be safe if he gets back in with at least as much as he went into the election with. If he loses some seats — and I think the 'safe' campaign he's running now will probably lose him some seats — he's in trouble. Not coalition trouble, either. 'New leader' trouble.

  16. As a Tory I love all this talk about one on one man o mano – perfect – think about it – it drives a wedge right through Iggy and Layton – as let's face it folks Jack is running too – were I an NDP'er (god forbid) this would certainly not amuse me as it reduces my leaders relevance – were I a Liberal (perish the thought although I have to admit I used to be) I would be ecstatic and be calling Harper chicken making jokes and the like not realizing that though it may appear on the surface to higher the standing of my leader it at the same time drives another nail in any future cooperation – Rove could have learned from Stevie boy and there is no doubt about this – Nanos Poll = Harper up another notch hahahah!

  17. I really think the Harper brain trust was caught flat-footed on this one. They expected an obedient media to help them beat up the Liberals, same as last time. The media seem to be tugging at the leash though, and Ignatieff is turning out to be a much better campaigner than Dion.

    Harper had better start taking unlimited questions from the press soon, and he needs to find a better answer to why he's afraid to debate Ignatieff one on one.

  18. So are you saying that being in power is more important to Steven Harper than being able to lead? That's just depressing.

  19. Hey, a somewhat related question. On tonights At Issue the make-up of the debates will no doubt be an issue. Chantal has written a column against including May. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/politics/artic

    And AC on twitter supports including May. Like May, he argues that the GPC is polling around 10%. But what about Nanos, who for the past three polss at least, puts the GPC at or below 4%? http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/otta

    Want to be Coyne ignores the Nanos polls, and sticks with the higher number tonight?

    Btw – Nanos was a key speaker at the 2006 GPC convention where May was elected. He was described as the most accurate pollster in Canada.

  20. This idea simply won't fly.

  21. Is he still going to the wedding? If he doesn't go to the William and Kate doo on the 29th, it would free the necessary time to have a one on one with Ignatieff.

  22. Harper offered the 1-on-1 debate proposal to the broadcast consortium. At those meetings, Ignatieff chose the threesome with Layton and Duceppe, over a one-on-one debate.

    The postman may ring twice, but a gentleman only proposes once.

  23. Great tweet from @kady this morning on this:

    @kady: It hit me earlier today, actually: so far, Stephen Harper isn't so much campaigning as acting like a guy locked out of his office .

  24. Harper's had his wings clipped.

  25. I wouldn't be interested in multiple debates eight Mr. Harper.
    You noticed how the invitation to debate came from Ignatieff and then all of a sudden he has the rest of his clowns in there doing their thing.
    This inexperienced man is not playing with a full deck of cards.

  26. If you don`t like the last – poll try- the next one.

  27. One thing I can say about Mr. Harper, in less than a year ago he didn't tell the Country that he was going to bring down our Government but had to change his mind because he didn't have a backup plan for Canada. Do we need inexperienced as- ho— like this running our country??

  28. Unlike wives, you're allowed to have more than one debate. Iggy wants any and all debates, and SH declined.

  29. 10% of the time to argue issues in front of the entire electorate? Outrageous!

  30. Good point about Nanos poll. Nanos is more accurate on GPC numbers than the other pollsters because he doesn't push the party names, just asks preference. A lot more people who are asked from a list by other pollsters, pick Green Party as a none of the above choice, but aren't serious voters and don't show up on Election Day.

  31. The only thing that currently depresses me is reading the inane report and the more inane commentary from the hardy regular Harper Haters above. You know, you are not saying anything that doesn't annoy or is anything other than irrelevant and non-amusing sophomoric nonsense. If the PM is showing signs of ennui, then who can wonder?

  32. Yes, if there's one thing everyone knows about Ignatieff it is that he is a dullard who isn't "playing with a full deck."

    Seriously, this is why many CPC supporters are better off sticking to the approved talking points.

  33. One is of course generalising. Sam's comment above is good, for example even though I am not sure the deck of cards analogy is really what was intended.

  34. It's one of my favourite parts of your book! Oh that Duceppe…

  35. Lighten up Sam

  36. <Dear Mr. Harper:

    Just because Ignatieff is running his campaign like your 2006 campaign – policy a day, focus on pocketbook issues, walking about and meeting with ordinary Canadians, focus on policy instead of attacks, etc. – does not mean that you have to run your campaign like Martin's 2006 campaign – primary focus on scaremongering attacks that are backfiring (hidden social conservative agenda vs hidden coalition agenda now), daily miscues, helping the other side form their narrative about you, elevating the other guy's stature, etc.

    Just sayin'

  37. …..or take Iggy to the doo and have the debate on the plane going over……better make that on the way back over the Atlantic.

  38. I thought he was walking a little pigeon toed actually.

  39. I hope the media can push Harper into a second debate with Ignatieff. I think it would be useful for Canadians to see this. Since Harper implied he wanted it, and is trying to twist it into saying Ignatieff doesn't, it should be rather easy to corner Harper on this one. Assuming someone can hop over the metal fence and ask Harper a question, that is!

  40. What does a True Grit have for dinner?


  41. I can't wait for the questions, later in the campaign when it becomes clear that he will get a minority (if anything) or might not get that majority, about what he is going to do after the election, both personally and with the government.

    He's really painted himself into a corner here.

  42. I would pay money to see that.

  43. "To begin, Mr. harper and mr. Ignatieff, I will be asking questions for 45 minutes regarding mandatory helmet laws for boaters"

  44. Nope. Not true.

    Harper offered himself up for only one French and one English debate.

    Ignatieff has said he'll debate Harper anywhere and anytime. Hasn't wavered since Harper made the offer of a one-on-one. But he also doesn't think there shouldn't be a debate with the others. Just more debates as they do everywhere else – the US, the UK, Australia (I think).

  45. Nanos poll: Iggy shrinks the gap, from 19% to 6%.

  46. It's too bad that the electoral process bores him.

  47. If this was just a sport, one could sit back and admire Harper's clever tactical use of the clock. Unfortunately the winner has a country to run, and instead of making governance all about destroying your competition does nothing for those who are paying the ticket.
    Time to cancel Harper's version of '2-and-a-half-men'…

  48. Well said.

  49. I just read over at CBC, that in today's 'news conference', the rabble were getting uppity. They wanted to know why they couldn't ask more than 4 questions. Harper of course changed the channel and walked off when they persisted. Rope a dope only works when your opponent is slow and clumsy, not what I would say of the best of our media.

  50. The guy charged with running off the talking points is currently charged with influence peddling/improper doings/fill in CON job here…

  51. I saw it live. Harper really looked like an idiot when he repeatedly refused to answer the question.

  52. Harper is turning himself into a joke:

    "Our first preference was a direct debate with the leader of the coalition," Harper said, highlighting a message he has been hammering since the election campaign kicked off.
    "Mr. Ignatieff insisted that his first preference was to have his coalition partners there at the debate," he added.

    Read more: http://www.canada.com/news/Harper+says+debate+wit

  53. Maxime Bernier should offer to debate Michael Ignatieff.

  54. No, he's Foghorn J Leghorn…

  55. Harper's campaign has been stuck in the starting gates since last week. The momentum is shifting toward the Liberals and I think it's in large part because Harper didn't really want this election. (insert partisan rhetoric here if you want, I don't really care, frankly.)

    His heart isn't in it. No fire in the belly. His voice sounds flat and tired. Ignatieff hasn't even broken a sweat yet and I think we're going to see the polls swing sharply in favor of the Liberals over the next few days. It's early times, mind you, but for a party (the Tories) that is flush with cash and has been in permanent campaign mode since the last election, it tells me they've got nothing new to share with Canadians. This might be due to the top-down management style of Mr. Harper. It might be that Harper is surrounded by sycophants and is out of touch with even his members in caucus, who knows. All I can say at this point is that Harper looks like a man who actually wants to lose this election.

    And this is week one! There's still five more to go! Fascinating. I feel like I'm watching a train wreck.

  56. Haha, hopefully he has a new office come May 2.

  57. …..and time to replace it with a country split in two – one part for the feds and one part for the Bloc. Oh, and the bloc get that other half, too.

  58. Don Newman has written an invitation to Harper and Ignatieff and offered to be moderator.

  59. Paikin and Coyne. There is no Canada but a Toronto Canada!!

  60. Something definitely went off the rails. I initially thought the half-bone they threw the NDP was to make it look like they were trying, while deliberately baiting Layton into rejecting it, so they could use the budget's rejection as a smokescreen for the contempt vote and the other scandals. Maybe they were really trying to hang on, after all.

    Or maybe he's just pi$$ed because his "coalition coalition coalition" strategy has been somewhat deflated by all the talk about his own past strategies and writings on this same issue.

  61. It's easy to see why Harper would not want 1-1: he wants votes for the opposition to be split amongst all the opposition parties.

    But it's also easy to see why it would be a good thing: it would frame the election as the conservatives as one of two possible choices, which is exactly what Harper wants with the frequent mention of a coalition.

    So it's a matter of deciding whether he could siphon more votes away from the opposition vs the number of opposition votes the Liberals would siphon from the other opposition parties.

    Then there's the classic strategic consideration: when you're in front, you don't keep giving the opposition additional chances to catch up. You shut them out.

  62. Layton and Harper, because Jack does feel pushed out.Then Duceppe and Harper, Iggy and Harper its all too much.

    Meanwhile I never heard Michael Ignatieff say one word how he is going to bring new jobs to the unemployed Canadians,without jobs these people don't need day care.and I'm like most of you I raised my children at my cost and why should I be paying to raise someone elses..

  63. That would be interesting to watch what Coyne will say. But he's probably already read the Peter Mansbrigde memo.

    In any case, reading further on the links you provided, it talks about twitter and results.

    "For anyone looking for specifics as to why the Liberals just got a bump in the Nanos survey, the world of Twitter may provide a clue."

    But you know what I heard on the CBC local radio the other day (edmonton cbc)? That social-bot machines are capable of posting and spreading tweets like wild fire. Automated tweets being fed into the twitter system. What a world, eh! Who really knows what is going on these days. I think we may not have any idea how this election will turn out untill the actual living voters have cast their ballots. And I'm not saying this in jest. This is a changing world and it may be reflectted in polling results.

  64. Ah, yes, the condescension for the plebes. That always works in politics, you know…

  65. Go Don! Way to call him out!

    Don Newmann would make a good moderator, too.

  66. You can see him do it for free on the at issue panel, whose sole purpose is to explain to us why the libs are so marvelous

  67. Sam says, "You noticed how the invitation to debate came from Ignatieff"

    and this needs to be brought into the open, for it is a blatant lie he's telling, for it was in fact Harper who suggested the one-on-one debate between Harper and Ignatieff. Not the other way around, Sam.

    You people really have no shame in distorting anything you can get your hands on. And we want your kind of people to run this country???

  68. You're free to put forth your own choice…

  69. Actually Ignatieff took some time to answer and Harper did interpret the lack of answer as a 'no'.

  70. Yeah, but it's not working. Iggy's teeing off on him, and Harper's ceding momentum to him. My prediction: Big change in the Conservative campaign within the next week… they go back on the offensive (in a meaningful way), and take more chances.

  71. You owe me $10 per second until you cancel this agreement. Clock starts Now!

  72. Actually, i'm pretty pleased that Harper has picked the classic meltdown campaign of '06 to model after. I especially am eager to see when the RCMP announce some trumped up investigation on a cabinet member in week four…
    Of course, if Harper stays true to form and just continues screaming 'Coalition! Coalition!' i see the ending a little differently…

  73. Whoohoo $1500 already.

  74. I wonder if past success has made them overestimate what they can get away with?

  75. Half an hour is too long to wait????

    Face it. Harper tried to corner Iggy. Iggy upped the ante and Harper folded faster than you can say the word "chicken".

    Besides, even if what you claim is true, nothing is stopping Harper from now agreeing to it. Except his courage of course.

  76. havin' a mini-meltdown, Verhoeven?

  77. So he's trying hard to keep the others out of the debate… sounds like he's afraid to face the multi-pronged attack and what will assuredly be face-to-face discussion about 2004.

    May also took him down a few pegs last debate; any bet he's the one pulling strings to have her excluded?

  78. Steve afraid to show his true colors.

  79. Hardy Harper Haters. I love it. May I use that, please?

  80. Then why won't Harper debate Ignatieff? It was his idea, after all!

  81. But don't you think that if Harper and Ignatieff were going to have a one-on-one debate, they would have had it by now?

  82. Coyne is from the Peg.

  83. Of course if you repeat a lie long enough, you make it believable. But that still doesn't explain the quick chicken dance by Harper… Forget the koolaid now FV, it's chicken soup time!

  84. And as for your statement :"You people really have no shame in distorting anything you can get your hands on. And we want your kind of people to run this country???"

    You do realize that Sam is a conservative, don't you?

  85. Has your transgendered Ms. Gentleman Harper analogy been cleared by the campaign?

  86. And maybe I can get you a wafer for that soup?! Hah!

  87. Who says he doesn't want to? Harper wants to. He doesn't want to do four debates. And who can blame the guy.

    Why not have two 1 on 1 debates and two debates between Layton, Duceppe and May to see how they can best break up this country. Who gets to dip into the cookie jar first and who gets to go second, and so forth.

  88. Yeah, right, Bill, and you must just come back from the USofA, – a true Ignatieff following.

  89. Has anyone actually pointed out to Harper that if his fairytale coalition were true, it would in fact represent the overwhelming majority of Canadians who voted for the parties involved?

  90. a melt down? why a melt down? I love nothing more than listening to empty heads discussing emptyness. Sometimes I throw a bit of substance your way to make ya all go dance in circles around me.

    Tralalalal…..there they come.

  91. I think Harper made a mistake by disclosing that he would be campaigning on the coalition idea. He gave the opposition time to position themselves about it, and the media time to get bored.

  92. tell me, burlivespipe, do social-bot machines make soup too when they're on a break from posting instant messages? And what soup would such machines prefer?

    The soup of their choice, of course, so says their leader Ignatieff.

  93. I agree. I think Harper was looking for just an English and French debate between Iggy and himself that excluded the other parties.

    If Iggy would have accepted a 1:1 as opposed to a 1:3 it most likely would have driven some Liberal left of centres to the NDP because it would have been viewed as undemocratic. It would have also given Harper a chance to get some centre rights from the Liberals.

    I think most importantly it would have given Harper a chance to debate 1:1 instead of getting attacked from three angles. Having 4 debates (1:1 and 1:3 both in English and French) would be a tactical error because Harper would be the target of all debates which would produce any number of opposition zingers for play in the media.

  94. Right. Because that pesky political debate is less important than those photo-ops and answering 5 questions a day (and only if they are the right questions). He is just so darn busy he can't be bothered with that democracy stuff.

  95. Harper has been such a political gamer, that I have a hard time believing he will not snap out of whatever is throwing him off his game now. However, so far, I am quite amazed at just how poorly he is campaigning.

  96. You might want to read his post again.

  97. Actually, I think the idea was first mentioned by Ignatieff, because he was the first to respond to May being excluded. He said she should be included, but also mentioned that he would like to go toe-to-toe with Harper. Then a bit later, Harper mentioned several possible formats, and was more explicit about the possibility of just debating Ignatieff. Ignatieff quickly responded with his "any place, any time". So, it is a bit of a toss-up who originated the idea, but since Harper was more explicit and elicited a response from Ignatieff (as if it were an invitation) one could say it was Harper.

  98. You're right–our PM is Torontonian, and MI represents Toronto.

  99. You've got it figured out, Holly. Most Canadians would love to give the balance of power over to the BQ. Duceppe will be the one setting the CHT standards. From then on , it will not be the feds negotiating with the provinces, but the province of Quebec negotiating a deal with the other provinces.

    Welcome to our new Canada! Bonjour et Bon Nuit

  100. Don`t get carried away Lib supporters.
    There is very little unusual happening here.
    Most of us knew the media would be agressive and biased against Harper.
    We will see whether the public believes they are being properly represented by the media as the campaign continues.
    Remember—it is the people who vote not only the media and Lib-bloggers.

  101. Why hop over the fence? Tonight during At Issue, it should be easy to corner Harper some more. Nothing else new to report.

    Tip: turn down the volume on your tv set when watching Peter Mansbridge mention the names of Ignatieff or Harper and guess when Mansbridge's body siffens up or when his body relaxes. See if you can guess right. But I must warn you, it's not all that much fun to play the mute game because it's so darn easy to see who he's talking about.

  102. More accurately, Nanos never showed a 20 point gap. That big of a gap sounded like an aberration. The true number was probably in the 12 -14 pt range.

  103. Yeah, and you're from lala land

  104. Angus Reid accurately predicted election results in 2008—not Nanos.

  105. Actually I think this is a great idea but let's expand on it. In the leader's debate rather than have the 4 leaders answer questions and debate each other we give members of the public (chosen randomly from the voter's list) five minutes each to tell them what we think of them.

  106. I can't believe anyone thought it was a realistic option to not have the all-party debate.

  107. Ignatieff said no. He declined Harper's offer at the consortium/party meeting. He preferred having Layton and Duceppe in the debate.

  108. time to trot roll out Mike Duffy

  109. I think his whole campaign has been one mistake after another. I'm wondering what happened to this master strategist we keep hearing about? Seems to me that he's flopping around like a chicken with his head cut off.

  110. I could still use another post hole digger. Does Harper have a PHD?

  111. "People" can see for themselves on video clips how Stephen Harper at his news conference today corralled journalists behind a yellow fence over 12 metres away and wouldn't say why he limits the daily encounters to just five questions.

  112. Bernier should debate Duceppe

  113. I know, first the media report Harper saying "I want a debate." Now they are reporting him saying "I don't want a debate." Damn Liberal media using their QUOTES and FACTS all the time.

  114. At times you emit the aura of a crazy person standing on a street corner muttering incomprehensible threats to a lamp post.

  115. I dont think Harper wanted this election.He has certainly lost the fire in his belly. I will see how he does on the debates, but something is totally off with the PM.

  116. His master strategist is actually Guy Giorno, Harper's former chief of staff and, before that, the svengali in Mike Harris' regime, from whence he brought his little bag of dirty tricks to Ottawa.

    It's beginning to look like Giorno has lost his mojo.

  117. I remember Inkless writing or saying that Harper does best when he gets a long period of time off to go strategize. Could it be that Harper is losing it because he hasn't the time to do that?

  118. And we all saw him make the challenge, and shortly after Ignatieff responded anytime any place.
    We're seeing in this little exchange how the PMO and Cons war room will tell you what you just experienced didn't happen, and what they say happened really happened.
    And you know, up in Ottawa over the last five years it's worked pretty good for them.

  119. Have you been watching? Did you see Halifax today? He's rattled.

  120. Since when is wanting to ask questions being biased against Harper? Since Harper is unwilling to provide answers.

  121. Ignatieff should now nullify the Harper coalition attacks by just saying over and over "we're going for a majority, I'm not interested in any coalition." People may start to believe it.

  122. Exactly!

  123. Stephen Harper is no dummy, and if cornered into a debate, he might surprise you.
    Yes he appears rattled right now, but he is no lightweight, and the assumption that Mr Ignatieff would wipe the floor with him is unproven. Remember how Gore/Kerry were going to annihilate Dubya?
    If Michael gets cocky, he's likely to spout some inverse bon mot and break an oar. He'd be wise to keep his head down and stick to the script. Calm and cool all the way.

    Yes things are looking better right now, but I'm not letting my guard down until I hear Mike Duffy serenading.

  124. Maybe because the world of work has changed thanks to the free marketeers? It now takes two working to maintain a family where once it took one. Check out "23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism" by Ha-Joon Chang, a real economist.

  125. Ignatieff said no such thing. He said yes to a debate between all the leaders AND yes to a debate between him and Harper. Harper is hiding.

  126. While the media fixates on the "gotcha!!!" tit for tats,

    in apparantly insignificant news today (to the insular Ottawa media that is), our economy was soaring ahead of what was expected.

    The well being of every man woman and child in this land? Not important.

    Now carry on with the faux scandals, crocodile tears and various assorted hyperpartisan moments that appeal to the far left liberal base.

  127. Ignatieff has agreed to debate Harper but not in lieu of an all leaders debate. The ball is now in Harper's court.

  128. When handed a lemon…

  129. If Harper wants sympathy from voters on his press treament he should let them out of the cage. Hard for him to play the victim when he has them locked up.

  130. Yes, bold-faced lies by the Prime Minister are really minor things.

    Were you paid for this comment ?

  131. Harper wanna roll with The gangsters, But he's too white N' nerdy

  132. There's also the possibility that you're projecting.

  133. Here`s the thing John—-remember the debate in the last election. Well Harper did all right but to an objective observer it was pretty obvious there was a ganging up on him from the other 4 Party leaders.
    There is every reason to believe that would happen this time as well. So Harper said yesterday that his choice would be to have a one on one debate with Ignatieff—-that`s it for debates. Ignatieff says "anytime " but he also wants the ganging up debate as well. Harper says no.

    So it is not a matter of Harper being afraid of Iggy—he will take on him anytime and it would be a very good debate. But not after he has endured the gang-up-debate in a 5 week campaign.

  134. Welcome to not understanding what a C&S agreement is.

  135. But…but…how can he keep his head down if he's rowing?

  136. Here's some food for thought…(other than the Harper Fried Chicken comments…)

    Look at the latest Nanos poll which came out today. It shows the Conservatives basically holding steady while the Liberals seem to have picked up 6 points…largely at the expense of the NDP.

    This is not good for Harper. It certainly doesn't threaten another minority for him…but it could very well scuttle his majority dreams.

    If Harper were to agree to a 1-on-1 debate with Iggy it would lend credence to Iggy's claim that only the Liberals can stop a Harper majority. It would likely drive even more NDP voters to Iggy…a swing in momentum that Harper can't risk.

    Perhaps cooler Conservative heads thought of this last night.

  137. Wow! With your obsessive loathing of the BQ, you must have needed meds during the period when they were actually the Official Opposition.

  138. I expect that Harper would perform well in a debate with MI, but MI has such low expectations, even if he holds his own against SH it would be seen as a win. There's more risk in it for SH, which is why he declined the invitation. I'm hoping the media pressure builds on this, but I imagine he'll dig his heels in on this one.

    I noticed that MI sometimes trips over his words and misspeaks. I don't know how much that could hurt him in a debate.

  139. The PM is always the primary target in the debate.

  140. Yes, I think they do need a little more offensive in the Conservative campaign…. Iggy seems to have gained a little at the expense of the NDP. I think they need to attack the Liberals on more than one angle, and they also need to talk about the latest news that the economy continues to be strong: http://ht.ly/4qmkP

  141. better rowing than crowing, I say

  142. I heartily agree. It's early in the campaign.

  143. I had a real Augustus Gloop image there…

  144. Typical of someone from outside Toronto to attack someone for being from Toronto rather than anything actually relevant. Paikin is one of the best broadcast journalists in the country – don't care if he is from the Moon.

  145. Who can blame the guy?

    I BLAME HIM. This is an election! Four debates in 36 days is nothing. I do not care if he has to skip a pancake breakfast in Brandon! This is more important.

  146. No. But he has a masters in economics. That might come in handy if you need to figure out whether you'll need extra posts. But if you're planning on him actually digging the hole you might want to give him strict instructions on when to stop digging.

  147. There's also the danger we might decide to vote for AC to be our next PM.

  148. With one proviso. If by some chance either chet or FV get picked, i get first dibs on the mute button.

  149. Counting posts is kind of a fuzzy thing…you have to show some judgement about the quality of the ground you're standing on. Harper certainly isn't qualified for that.

  150. You nailed it: It's totally astroturf. This has to stop. Why do I keep looking at comment threads…

  151. Stephen Harper said at the beginning that he'd accept whatever debate forum the networks decide. He's shown once again that he has the balance and focus of a strong leader.

    Ignatieff should consider himself lucky that he'll have Jack, Gilles and maybe even Elizabeth to back him up at the debates. Stephen's careful, stable charisma and focus on the facts would easily outperform Michael's false bravado and "say-anything-to-win" logic.

    The pro vs. the amateur. Like the Lakers vs. the Raptors in a best of 7.

  152. I think what he did, was to say.There are two clear choices.He discounted Layton,and its all up to ignatieff.He does nothing without calculation.I dont think he likes the media, anymore than they like him. I see Iggy is wrapped in a huge liberal bubble. LOL

  153. Feschuk proposed calling it "Chicken Wing," which sounds even better.

  154. Wheres my like button-well said!

  155. Which he said on Sunday, and repeated several times for the attendant media hordes. I think Ignatieff put the issue to rest…apparently, Harper, ensconced in his bubble, still thinks people are storming Rideau Hall in protest.

  156. "Tralalalala…."?

    Yep. He's havin' a meltdown, folks.

  157. Row forward, not backward. I'm an old[ aging] sailor.

  158. Feschuk is the one who got me started on this with his “bwock”ing on twitter, so I'll defer to his judgement. The press stuck on the Harper plane could still make “Chicken Train” their unofficial theme song though. It's a catchy tune and I'm pretty sure the Daredevils could use some I-tune royalties…

  159. on the other hand Ignatieff has lots of experience of hostile debates. Poltical and talk show debates in the UK can get ugly – particularly among the artsy crowd – really nasty at times. I doubt if he'll get rattled. We know Harper can be rattled.

  160. Harper as yesterdays man…i like the sound of that.

  161. You know, when masquerading as somebody capable of independent thought, you'd be more persuasive if you could avoid sentences like "[Harper]'s shown once again that he has the balance and focus of a strong leader."

    Just some friendly advice.

  162. It's a she. She's probably gone yumpy, but boy is she entertaining.

  163. I may need to borrow $50 in the near future.

  164. its probably not such a good idea for someone with a one track mind

  165. apparently this commenter is someone not familiar with anything multiple

  166. In a recent interview with Peter Mansbridge on the CBC, Stephen Harper admitted that he gets annoyed at all the partisan games in parliament as they sidetrack the PMO from the real job of running this country.

    The opposition have shown such contempt with their cheap parliamentary head-shots and greedy, power-grab election that the P.M. is actually showing frustration and tiredness with their short-sighted, self-serving opportunism. (which is at the expense of the greater Canadian good)

    However, like before, he'll shake it off and get down to the business of running a competent, winning campaign.

  167. Partisan Harper doesn't like partisan games? Like having a Conservative Guide for Dummies on how to disrupt committees?

    Give us a break and cut out the blatant hypocrisy.

  168. Were you paid to be an idiot? oh yeah you're a Liberal… you're an idiot for free.

  169. I was completely lost on how FV thought Sam was attacking, not trying to defend Harper. Her posts now make sense knowing that she has no reading comprehension skills.

  170. I think using "Stephen" and "charisma" in the same sentence was more of a giveaway.

  171. The Liberal party media would do well to keep American Iggo in the safe Liberal bubble, while continuing to attack PM Harper at every turn. Igg is safe in the arms of the Liberal party media, stepping out of that bubble would not be good for Iggo or the coalition. You can never have a fair election in Canada with the Liberal party media setting the agenda, and the Liberal party media consortium understands that pitting American Igg against PM Harper one on one would be a disaster for Iggs and the coalition. The Liberal party media consortium wants to insert American Iggo into the PMO with the Separatists, they don't want to sabotage that by exposing Iggo to reality. Talk tough Igg, but stay entombed in the safety of you're Liberal comrades in the media.

  172. They have no more offense. What could they possibly say that we don't already know ? They've worn out their options. I don't think barking coalition non-stop will allow them to gain any ground.

  173. Canadians are so hungry to see a debate between leaders because they feel cheated by Question Period's circus atmosphere of heckling, and they don't watch committee debate either.

    The fair thing to do is have more debates, not fewer debaters. http://saskboy.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/more-deba

  174. Hey, I'm good for $100 once André comes through on our deal.

  175. What's your point Paul ? In relation to the actual campaign, the 2006 comparison is rather irrelevant. This time Harper chickened out plain and simple. He knows he's got more to lose, so he's playing it cautiously. If it ain't broke don't fix it. He's anal in that regard as he prefers pre-scripted, staged events as opposed to an improvised happening.

  176. "All I can say at this point is that Harper looks like a man who actually wants to lose this election". There may be some truth in that statement. I've noticed over the last 20 years or so that the Tories run up huge debt, hand the mess over to the liberals, liberals make hard choices, dig us out of debt and build a surplus, tories attack, come back and do it again. What a cycle…

  177. I disagree. The first big mistake of the campaign was deciding to saying "Coalition" 3 times in every sentence in varying degrees of scarey-voice.

    The 2nd big mistake was the pseudo-promise of income-splitting.

    This is strike 3.

    But in electoral games you get to stay at the plate and swing away. This is looking like a blunder-prone campaign for the supposed chess-master.

  178. It doesn't matter whether you are a Liberal or a conservative…


    As long as you are not delusional.

  179. I think he's just been spending way too much time surrounded by sycophants and inferior minds:

    "Our first preference was a direct debate with the leader of the coalition," Harper said, highlighting a message he has been hammering since the election campaign kicked off.
    "Mr. Ignatieff insisted that his first preference was to have his coalition partners there at the debate," he added.

    You can almost hear him pause for the desk thumping and ragh-ragh of QP with every "coalition".

  180. Ridiculous.

    We should have way more debates like they do in the UK elections – 3 debates among all leaders with specific topics. Plus:
    "In addition to the leaders' debates, on 29 March, the three main parties' financial spokesmen participated in a debate focusing on the economy, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling debating with the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman Vince Cable on Channel 4. Debates also took place between 19 April and 5 May, a series of debates also took place on the BBC political TV series The Daily Politics, between members of the incumbent Labour Cabinet and their Conservative, Liberal Democrat counterparts and representatives from the Green Party, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and the UK Independence Party." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_gener

    Dammit – that's how it's done.

    Why do we settle for attack ads and photo ops?

  181. Hah.
    I think if we were going to have a coalition we would have had it by now.

  182. You go it backwards – Harper is biased against the media.

  183. He gets annoyed at games… when he doesn't win.

  184. You know in the '08 campaign the gotchas were all on the Dion campaign and got heavy play in the media.

  185. Too bad they didn't think up a plausible excuse.

  186. Because nobody will support the Conservatives but for cash? In some respects it is good to know that the Liberal party is broke. A party with coffers overflowing has the resources to pay former polisci students to hack away on a keyboard.

  187. Harper is biased against anyone who asks him a question. Apparently his need for absolute control goes far beyond his MPs and the CPU.
    Opposition Ads: "I was for it before I was against it."
    Chicken Little running around yelling "the economy will fail, to hell with democracy".

  188. As long as Harper runs and hides from Ignatieff it is safe to assume he knows Ignatieff would wipe the floor with him.

  189. You make it very difficult to tell which of us is the funniest person ever.

  190. I wonder why most of the conservative supporters write so badly. Psicione, you just keep writing and whinning to no end, a typical not so well informed or educated person who writes badly. You make a mockery of the English language. Yes you deserve to be in the Harper crowd.

  191. Looks like politicians think that cows can fly.

    They are delusional, after all.

  192. Ducepte vs Harper debate should also be interresting

    Sure That Ducepte will eat Harper in a debate

    Harper got charisma but It not an Intellectual

    Igniatieff and Ducepte are both Great Intellectual.

    So in a Debate Igniatief and Ducept got the upper hand

  193. I notice that all conservatives have very short memories. When the conservatives won a majority they litterly destroyed the country both in the federal and the Ontario provincial elections . After Mulroney the conservatives had to go through a name change and a wait of many years for people to forget ( even the conservative voters ) they barely got any seats and we ended up with a liberal gov't for quite a few years . the same thing happened with the Harris gov't . it will be years before the public including the conservatives forget what he did.

  194. Hey Paul, if its too hot for you, get out of the kitchen- Paul bans twitter account for commenting on his biased reporting

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