3:15pm. Closing arguments. Mr. Mulcair: Common values, unity, reaching out, taking the Quebec success nationwide. Mr. Topp: Quebec values, the environment, peace, equality, winning. Ms. Nash: Peace and justice, yes to the environment, no to torture, inspire, bring together and unite. Mr. Dewar: Solidarity, peace, climate change, human rights, no to capital punishment. Mr. Cullen: I drank Caribou last night, these people are all great candidates, we need to think about the next steps, I’m not afraid of new ideas.
And that’s that. Handshakes, hugs and cheek kisses all round. I’ve no idea who won that. I suspect the consensus top four—Mulcair, Topp, Dewar, Nash—remains more or less in place, with perhaps some changes in order. It’ll be interesting to see what the Quebec press says about Mr. Dewar’s French.
3:11pm. Mr. Topp challenges Mr. Dewar on support for culture and protecting French artists on the Internet.
3:08pm. Mr. Mulcair asks Ms. Nash if she favours a seat for Quebec at UNESCO. Ms. Nash says yes. Does Mr. Mulcair figure he’s the frontrunner right now? Or is he conscious of the fact that he is sometimes reputed to be difficult to work with? Or both?
3:05pm. Mr. Cullen challenges Mr. Mulcair on working with other parties. Mr. Mulcair argues that NDP supporters want nothing to do with the Liberal party. Mr. Cullen tries again. Mr. Mulcair says the party needs to expand its base, but it needs to be clear with voters.
3:03pm. Ms. Ashton and Mr. Mulcair manage a slight disagreement on whether aid delivery needs its own department.
3:02pm. Mr. Dewar asks what Ms. Nash would do if Quebec introduces fees for health care. Ms. Nash says that’s a decision for Quebec.
2:59pm. A second pick-a-fight round. Ms. Nash challenges Mr. Topp on not having his seat: will he ask an MP to step down so that he can run in Quebec? Mr. Topp notes the last time party members picked a leader who didn’t have a seat (Jack Layton). Ms. Nash notes that Mr. Layton had experience as a politician. Mr. Topp notes that Ms. Nash has three years of experience as an MP and he’s got many years of experience working in an NDP government.
2:54pm. For whatever it’s worth, here is one assessment of the candidates’ skills en francais.
2:46pm. That was fun. A whole debate on taxes would be even more fun.
2:41pm. Mr. Dewar challenges Mr. Topp on not having a seat in Parliament. Mr. Topp dismisses the question and smacks Mr. Dewar for appointing a deputy leader already. Ms. Nash picks up this point and wonders why Mr. Dewar’s deputy leader (Charlie Angus) is another anglophone from Ontario. Ms. Nash suggests this disrespects francophone Quebeckers. Mr. Dewar defers to his “next 70” plan, which apparently involves maintaining the party’s foothold in Quebec.
2:39pm. Mr. Topp challenges Mr. Mulcair on government revenues. Suggests he’s planning to fund government programs through environment policy, a la Stephane Dion. Mr. Topp makes aggressive hand gestures, challenges him to agree that it’s time to end the imbalance of the current tax system. Mr. Mulcair says you have to consider “other options” (cap-and-trade, tax havens).
2:35pm. I don’t think I quite caught what Niki Ashton thinks Paul Dewar has to retract. Mr. Mulcair invites Ms. Ashton to muse about how young people can contribute to foreign policy. And also what she would do to get more young people voting. That seemed a bit too easy.
2:32pm. Mr. Singh challenges Mr. Topp on how charities would be impacted by changes to capital gains exemptions. Mr. Topp says Mr. Singh should read his plan because that plan covers this. Mr. Singh is undeterred. Mr. Topp invites Mr. Singh to listen to his answers: that his plan takes charities into account.
2:29pm. The pick-a-fight round. The candidates are lectured on how to disagree. Mr. Cullen asks Ms. Nash how she plans to unify progressive voters. Ms. Nash dismisses any formal linkage with the Liberals. Mr. Cullen wonders why it’s okay to work with parties after an election, but not before. Ms. Nash says the party must remain “faithful” to its principles and “inspire” more people to vote for the NDP.
2:15pm. “As a Prime Minister what would you do to improve Canada’s international profile? And why would you be a better representative than the other candidates?” A greater commitment to fighting global climate change is the popular answer. Also: a renewed focus on peace and peacekeeping. This is where specific follow-ups would help. Would you sign a global climate pact that didn’t include China or the United States? What reduction targets would you set and how would you get Canada to that goal? What would you do about Iran? What about Syria? Did you support intervention in Libya?
2:03pm. Opening statements overly simplified: Paul Dewar worked in Central America. Brian Topp makes fun of Josee Verner. Nathan Cullen loves asymmetric federalism. Niki Ashton doesn’t like ideology and partisanship. Peggy Nash says Stephen Harper doesn’t represent Quebec. Martin Singh has business experience. Thomas Mulcair is from Quebec.
2:01pm. Could they not find anyone to fill out those seats behind the stage?
1:57pm. The official theme of this debate is “Canada on the world stage.” The real theme of this debate is “Can Paul Dewar speak French well enough to assuage concerns about his abilities in his second language?” I’m in no position to judge myself (I’ll be watching CPAC’s English feed). But francophone viewers are free to pass on their assessments.
We’ll be back shortly to commence the live-blog festivities.