55

Si vous étiez prémier ministre aujourd’hui, qu’est-ce que vous auriez fait à propos de l’économie que M. Harper n’a pas fait?


 

Am I close? I think I’m close. Help me out, mes Sans-Encre!

I dearly wish this were less of an issue. I kind of wish somebody — anybody? Bueller? — had tried to start an interesting conversation about, say, Harper’s $990-billion defence plan. I literally haven’t heard a word about that during this campaign.

But I do think whatever charm Dion’s 30-day plan has, if any, depends on the fact that he’s not prime minister yet. And it was more effective last week, when the prime minister hadn’t done much to respond to the crisis, than it is this week, when he’s done more. And I’m surprised nobody’s noticed that what really made Dion trip up is that he said “30-50,” the incomprehensible title of his anti-poverty plan, when he meant to say “30-day plan,” the rather plain title of his 30-day plan. And I think some of that did play in yesterday’s ATV incident, along with Dion’s perfectly understandable confusion over the question.

Incidentally Harper didn’t understand a bunch of questions in the 2004 French leaders’ debate. At times it was a bit hard to watch.


 

Si vous étiez prémier ministre aujourd’hui, qu’est-ce que vous auriez fait à propos de l’économie que M. Harper n’a pas fait?

  1. “Incidentally Harper didn’t understand a bunch of questions in the 2004 French leaders’ debate. At times it was a bit hard to watch.”

    And it probably cost Harper some Quebec votes. as will Dion’s flubbing of an english language question.

  2. “And I’m surprised nobody’s noticed that what really made Dion trip up is that he said “30-50,” the incomprehensible title of his anti-poverty plan, when he meant to say “30-day plan,” the rather plain title of his 30-day plan. And I think some of that did play in yesterday’s ATV incident, along with Dion’s perfectly understandable confusion over the question.”

    Somebody did notice it on Babble last night. I’d add the link, but then this comment would go into the Bermuda Triangle until after the election.

  3. Don’t you think it is a bit harsh that Kady and Andrew Potter called Duffy “despicable” and then Potter called him “fat”.

    The video and Duffy’s segment are not that big of a deal. I think Dion starts out horribly, but once he hits the laughter it takes a lot of the edge off.

    I think it is the accusations of journalistic integrity and the name-calling which makes this more of an issue than the actual issue itself.

  4. Umm, this would be a non-story if it simply was about misunderstanding. Though I do question the merits of electing a leader who can’t communicate properly in English.

    The reason why this is a big story isn’t because of some misunderstanding or mystical disability. It’s because he had no answer when asked four times, clearly, a very simple question.

  5. It’s pretty clear (what would you have done, if you were PM now, and had been for the past 2 years)????

    Steve Murhpy: If you were Prime Minister now, what would you have done about the economy and this crisis that Mr. Harper has not done?

    Stephane Dion: If I would have been the Prime Minister two and a half years ago?

    Steve Murphy: If you were the Prime Minister right now.

    Stephane Dion: Right now.

    Steve Murphy: And had been for the past two years.

  6. Seems like the classy thing to do would have been to make a big show of ignoring it, while encouraging the Conservative blogosphere to take over behind the scenes. For a guy with an allegedly strategic and disciplined view of Canadian politics, who knows that his bigger problems include likeability and empathy, to pounce on a guy’s second language problems — HIMSELF, not via surrogates — can only be seen as a serious error.

  7. I agree with Riley.

    This is a story because of how the media is closing ranks to defend Dion and trying to insinuate that criticizing him over this amounts to making fun of a guy with a hearing problem.

    It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up that will get you…unless you are Liberal, then the coverup is part of the service offering.

  8. … and, perhaps in large part, because he couldn’t communicate effectively with all Canadians, Harper wasn’t elected in 2004. Should the same fate be apropos for Mr. Dion in 2008?

    Reminds one of John Crosbie’s fateful line in the PC Leadership race – I can’t speak Chinese either!

    I cringe at the prospect of another Chretienesque PM – “da proof is da proof is da proof” ugh…

  9. Riley, I noticed when Potter called Duffy “fat” too. Unacceptable, and something of a double standard.

    I don’t think Dion does well with “on-the-spot” answers. Even his 30 day plan reflects this. Some see this as a weakness. Others may appreciate a leader who needs time before formulating a reasoned reply to a question.

    That said, if you’re going to run around accusing Harper of dropping the ball on the economy, you’d best be ready to explain what you’d do differently.

  10. I don’t think it was fair that the “whole” tape was released. Dion has done live interviews and knew this one was taped. If he knew it was a live interview, he probably would have answered the question quickly (as many politicians would, such as in a scrum), but since he knew it was taped he probably felt he could take his time and ask for clarification.

    So yes, criticize the ultimate answer, but not the fact he asked for the question three times. Otherwise all journalists will have to say that even though it is a taped interview we may still play whatever part we want.

  11. ‘That’s his *best* answer’

    That IS the best answer. Dictating changes without assembing impact analyses from the trenches, experts AND the departments, makes good press but lousy administration.

  12. Rule of thumb when dealing with the press:

    EVERYTHING you say to a reporter, from “hello” to “goodbye” is on the record, regardless of what they tell you. It is to a reporter’s complete discretion as to whether he/she will honour the “off the record” portions of the exchange.

    That being said, Duffy ought to have considered that the people he will be interviewing in the future will never ever take him at his word on anything.

    Those who choose to speak to Duffy on background from this point on are complete morons.

  13. Duffy isn’t fat – he’s a Butterball!
    Monsieur Sans-Encre – je pense que le question a pose a M. Dion etait tres convolute – et si le meme question – comme l’un dans votre titre – en francais – M. Dion aurait pu le tuer!

    This is already backfiring on Harper – Duceppe has spun it to be a general insult to Quebecers and no doubt will sink any chances the CPC candidates had in Quebec by milking it to the limit…

    By By majority…and probably NOW – by by minority too!

  14. This has become a story precisely because it shows that Dion never did have a “plan” other than to meet with a bunch of officials and experts. It completely undermines his criticism of Harper in the debates.

    By refusing to budge on his Green Shift in the wake of the financial crisis, Voters are also realizing that Dion is every bit as inflexible as Harper. That is bad news for Dion.

  15. This is already backfiring on Harper – Duceppe has spun it to be a general insult to Quebecers and no doubt will sink any chances the CPC candidates had in Quebec by milking it to the limit…

    Wabbit, this is what really surprises me about the CPC response. Even if they actually believe that Dion ‘didn’t have an answer’ to such a question, they had to know that their response would not play well in Quebec.

    Harper is (I thought) smart and has at least a general understanding of Quebec politics. Who exactly is he letting run the QC campaign this time, the Sparrow?

  16. “I don’t think Dion does well with “on-the-spot” answers. Even his 30 day plan reflects this. Some see this as a weakness. Others may appreciate a leader who needs time before formulating a reasoned reply to a question.”

    Nonsense, Sean. This was a taped interview. The assumption here is that you can take some liberties in that kind of format because you know that you can ask the reporter to start over.

    Dion would have never asked for a do-over or looked “off camera” for clarifications in a live setup. It’s not like the man had never done press before.

    I’ve NEVER seen Dion stumble like this in a live exchange. Have you?

  17. WW – I’ve been wondering about how this is being played in Quebec. Pro/con/both/neither? What did Duceppe say? (I was musing last night that it would be smart for both the NDP and the Bloc to come out and condemn the Tories for trying to exploit the tape, and then, in the next breath, criticize the heck out of the actual answer.)

  18. “I was musing last night that it would be smart for both the NDP and the Bloc to come out and condemn the Tories for trying to exploit the tape, and then, in the next breath, criticize the heck out of the actual answer”

    That’s pretty well what Gilles did. kept a straight face and everything.

  19. well boudica Duffy usually interviews people live…and his decision to run this video was clearly made after the ATV affiliate released it publically.

    But I will certainly agree that the ATV interviewer may have a much harder time getting a taped interview from anybody important ever again.

  20. Wabbit, I disagree.

    La question n’etait peut-etre pas bien clair mais Dion aurait pu quand meme repondre. Je crois qu’il etait fatigue et avait les nerfs a fleur de peau.

    More importantly, Dion made the mistake of assuming that CTV could be trusted not to air his do-overs. This is an election, though. You simply can’t afford to give the press anything that can be used against you. Dion ought to have kept that in mind.

    In the end, though, I think this whole affair has done more damage to Duffy and CTV than it did Dion.

  21. I hate to change the subject on everyone, but Paul himself gave me an opening with this: “I kind of wish somebody — anybody? Bueller? — had tried to start an interesting conversation about, say, Harper’s $990-billion defence plan. I literally haven’t heard a word about that during this campaign.”

    One other thing I haven’t heard (and as an American watching this from afar, I may just have missed it), is ANY reaction from ANYBODY on the North Korea situation. Canada is a northern Pacific power last I checked. How can all five parties (especially the four that have voters in west of the Rideau) completely ignore this?

  22. “Duffy ought to have considered that the people he will be interviewing in the future will never ever take him at his word on anything”

    Boudica

    Two nights ago, I think it was, Duffy played up the significance of Flaherty press conference held yesterday morning into something that it wasn’t.

    Cons emailed Duffy during show to tamper down expectations and Duffy said if he was making this press conference into something that it wasn’t, it was the fault of a civil servant who emailed him about Flaherty’s event.

    Duffy said the civil servant would be horrified if Duffy said their name on-air, because they wished to remain anonymous and would get in trouble if identified, than proceeded to give the person’s initials instead.

  23. rightwingliberal, in response to your attempt at discussing issues I shall channel our venerable host.

    Dion heard and understood the question blah blah Dion has no answerblah blahzzzzzzzsnarf

  24. Daily Harris-Decima is out, and it shows the Liberal hopes of forming gov’t are fading.

  25. Boudica: ‘EVERYTHING you say to a reporter, from “hello” to “goodbye” is on the record, regardless of what they tell you. It is to a reporter’s complete discretion as to whether he/she will honour the “off the record” portions of the exchange’

    Only if as a journalist you are unethical (also it might be illegal, I’m not sure).

  26. Boudica: “I’ve NEVER seen Dion stumble like this in a live exchange. Have you?”

    A little excerpt from Greg Weston today;

    “It was one of those unfortunate technical glitches that eventually bedevils every election campaign, a teleprompter that failed to roll at the start of Stephane Dion’s speech to the chamber of commerce here yesterday…

    …Thank you to welcome me in the chamber of commerce of one of the most successful city of Canada and certainly the most resilient Halifax,” Dion began ad libbing as he waited for the teleprompter.

    Thanking the person who introduced him and saying a word about local Liberal MP Scott Brison, who provided a warm-up act, should not have been too tricky for a prospective prime minister.

    “Thank you very much, um … Thank you. Uh, and thank you also. Thank you, Valerie. I think exactly like … I will speak with my heart, okay?”

    “Thank you Valerie. Thank you so much because what you have as an agenda is at the core of a plan that Scotch, um, Scott has shown, a plan that want development and for the next generations as well, build on the economy and environment together.”

    The teleprompter finally operational, the Liberal leader reads the rehearsed script, decrying Stephen Harper and telling the crowd why Stephane Dion should be the next prime minister.”

    So to answer your question, yes.

  27. Don’t you think the interview would have been restarted if the interviewer had screwed up a question? Don’t they have lengthy blooper tapes of just these kinds of things, even by seasoned tv journalists who trip up from time to time? It’s taped for a reason, people. This is a silly matter that may make Dion look awkward but won’t cost him any support, while it makes Harper look even meaner.He should have let his minions launch the attack instead of gleefully wading in.

  28. In his first answer, when Dion talks about 30-50, I believe he is talking about his Poverty Plan, which he first introduced in Dec, 2007. Susan Delacourt wrote last Jan 5th:

    “He calls it the “30-50 plan” – promising that within five years of the Liberals reassuming power, overall poverty levels in Canada will be reduced by 30 per cent and child poverty rates will be slashed by 50 per cent. ”

    http://www.thestar.com/News/article/291081

    The Poverty Plan is also featured in the Liberals Platform:
    “A Fairer Canada Includes: The 30-50 Plan, Investing in Our Children, Health Care, Women’s
    Equality, Immigration:…”,etc

  29. Dion’s english is not the problem, the problem is that he may get a minority gov. Do you know how the Bloc and the PQ are happy right now just thinking it is possible? They alreay plan that the yes could get over 45% in less then a year with Dion as PM. That’s the problem. We may have to watch a movie we all seen to many times…Why did the PCC though it could win a majority without Québec? Dion is the best card in the separatist hand. What a mess the PCC got us in to…

  30. That column by Susan Delacourt is 10 months old, but parts of it are very prescient and kind of set up what is happening now with Dion:

    “The battle lines may not be that clear-cut, but it’s worth asking why Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and his party have decided to embrace the anti-poverty fight so intensely – at the same time as many strategists argue that successful election campaigns are fought in the middle of Canada’s income spectrum.

    Some public-opinion experts, in fact, are puzzled about whether Dion can turn his anti-poverty campaign into an issue that will resonate with mainstream Canadian voters. …

    Liberals who helped write this platform say that they’re not just trying to get the votes of the poor. They’re trying to get the votes of people who care about the poor. …

    Making poverty a central issue, in other words, isn’t just the Liberals being sentimental; there’s also an aspect of realpolitik in the decision to put it at the heart of the platform.

    http://www.thestar.com/News/article/291081

  31. As one that has achieved substantial personal growth over the years I cringe a bit at disparaging comments based on personal appearance.
    After all, “fat” can be a lifestyle choice. Sure it can be.

    Character, on the other hand, is what it is.
    And Duffy is, and always has been, a disgusting piece of crap. As a Maritimer who has had to put up with him longer than the national audience has I’m happy that some of that reality is revealed.

    As a true act of contrition CTV should fire his ass and hire Avi Lewis.

  32. I kind of wish somebody — anybody? Bueller? — had tried to start an interesting conversation about, say, Harper’s $990-billion defence plan. I literally haven’t heard a word about that during this campaign.

    Good point, what with “starking” taking over an entire evening, it must have overshadowed the conversation you yourself must have attempted to start on an important matter of federal government policy of relevance to an election campaign: an ambitious defence plan. How long should I take to go back and look for your long-ignored appeal?

  33. Attributed to Oscar Ameringer:-

    “Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other”.

    The current campaign finance laws have changed some of that, but not much.

  34. “Only if as a journalist you are unethical (also it might be illegal, I’m not sure).”

    Scott B, I don’t agree. Perhaps Pauld and/or Kady could chime in but as far as I am concerned, that whole “off the record” stuff is a myth.

    A reporter is not required to keep relevant information out of a story because the person being interviewed asked him/her to. The reporter can, for the sake of a good relationship, honour that request but he/she is not OBLIGATED to do that.

    Having said that, blindsiding someone this way will likely impact potential interviews.

  35. Canadians would have liked a campaign about a whole range of important topics, but it was rare day that the media expanded beyond one daily topic and a few sideshows.

    The public deserved better, and the reporters, editors and media executives have little to be proud of.

  36. I’m glad you noticed the 30-50 thing Wells as I think it’s the critical point in the whole exchange. Obviously, Stephane Dion didn’t think the question was about his anti-poverty plan, but he started to answer that way — which I would chalk up to fatigue and completely harmless.

    This is getting a lot of play, not only because people are jerks (including some macleans columnists who shall remain nameless), but because the liberals have been saying for two weeks that the Prime Minister has no plan but when asked about their plan, he couldn’t offer anything.

  37. They alreay plan that the yes could get over 45% in less then a year with Dion as PM.

    Yeah and every immigrant will leave the country if Harper is elected. Thanks for coming out.

  38. The question was unintelligible, can’t tell if he was asking Dion to dream a little dream, or jump in his time machine.

    Might as well have asked the very old SNL question:

    What if during the Second World War, superman was on the side of a the NAZIS instead of the Americans?

    Interesting to speculate but not much that will change anything.

  39. Boudica – my wife graduated from one of the finest Journalism schools on Earth…the one that awards the Pullitzer.

    Her profs drilled it into her and I quote – “off the record is off the f@#$ing record”

    A gray area is someone who says something and ex-post declares it to be off the record – that doesn’t really fly with me.

    But if something is agreed to be ‘off the record’ upfront, it is completely unethical to report on it.

    This is black and white.

  40. I would like to know what Lib supporters think of the fact that Palin can answer questions that confuse better than their man Dion can.

  41. jwl – it’s cause she’s a Maverick. I have a huge crush on Mavericks and their ability to answer questions.

    By the way everyone – that darn Liberal media rag – the G&M – endorsed Stephen Harper for the second straight election.

  42. Scott B., I’m not a reporter so I will take your word on it. As far as I am concerned, to assume that your “off the records” comments will remain as such is taking an undue risk.

    It is my understanding that Dion’s team actually asked that those do-overs not be aired. The fact that they felt the need to ask goes to show that were aware of the risk.

    Then again, if they were told it was not going to be aired, a lack of ethics is indeed a problem here.

  43. @Scott B – Samantha “monster” Power thought she was off the record too.

  44. No doubt it’s a huge risk – especially in-camera.

    In Dion’s case, I doubt there was an explicit agreement, but when doing multiple takes for a recorded interview, it’s reasonable to assume that only the final take (vs. the botched take) will be aired. The interviewer welcomed him each time! I don’t think this is as bad as reporting something that is explicitly off-the-record, but it’s still a bit sketchy.

  45. Scott B, it is very sketchy and a low blow. Still, if I’m one of Dion’s handlers and I see him doing repeated do-overs, my stomach would be in knots and I would consider it a given that the media outlet will likely air it.

    I would try to get assurances from the reporter that this will not take the air but would probably stop breathing until seeing the piece on air.

    I’m torn on this one. I think that ATV/CTV’s actions were despicable but I can’t help but feel like Dion and his team gave them something way too “juicy” to keep to themselves.

    We all know how Dion’s english has been made an issue.

    Again, the one thing that gives me pause is a report stating that the outlet told Dion’s team that they wouldn’t air the do-overs. To then turn around and air it anyway is disturbing.

  46. “…I think CTV realised, as journalists, they shouldn’t withhold the segment only because Dion answered it badly.”

    What of the fact that they supposedly told Dion’s team that they wouldn’t air it?

  47. “What of it? Should they withhold interviews because the interviewees aren’t happy with their answers? ”

    Style,that’s not what I asked you. If CTV told Dion and his crew that they would NOT air it but then air it anyway and assemble a panel to critique the footage, is that ok with you?

    Or perhaps I should substitute Dion’s name for Harper to get a straight answer from you?

  48. I note that Mike Duffy and CTV previously did not hesitate to include Stephane Dion’s complimentary opinion of Mike Duffy in the commercial promoting his show.

    Classy move guys.

    Maybe Mr. Duffy can finally get the Tory Senate appointment denied him previously.

    P.S.

    The Tory “war room” and its Boss, increasingly remind me of the Omega’s in Animal House. You can decide who best fit the roles of Greg Marmalard and Doug Niedermeyer.

    Stephane Dion as “Hoover”?

  49. I need a job and I don’t mind being Mr. Dion’s personal English teacher. I don’t know french but that’s the best way for him to learn, eh? I would often say to Mr. Dion “Mssr. Dion, explain to me in English what you think I said”. Or to make it easier I would say “Mssr. Dion, To Me explain, what it is, I just said”. Then he’d say it. Then I’d model both the Question AND the Answer.

    And of course, if this was October 14th, and not Today, I would VOTE FOR MSSR. DION!!!! Whew, what a relief to finally make up my mind. I can’t vote for that asshole reformer Harper and Elizabeth didn’t sit hard enough on Peter MacKay’s face in her debates.

  50. I need a job and I don’t mind being Mr. Dion’s personal English teacher. I don’t know french but that’s the best way for him to learn, eh? I would often say to Mr. Dion “Mssr. Dion, explain to me in English what you think I said”. Or to make it easier I would say “Mssr. Dion, To Me explain, what it is, I just said”. Then he’d say it. Then I’d model both the Question AND the Answer.

    And of course, if this was October 14th, and not Today, I would VOTE FOR MSSR. DION!!!! Whew, what a relief to finally make up my mind. I can’t vote for that reformer Harper and Elizabeth didn’t sit hard enough on Peter MacKay’s face in her debates.

  51. Karen-
    I’m considering aplpying for that job myself.
    It has to be better than 12 hour shifts.
    Although possibly more frustrating, but that is okay.

  52. Harper didn’t understand questions in French in 2004.

    Want to tell us if he has improved by 2008?

    How long has Stephane Dion been a member of the National Government? All of that time in important posts.

  53. If the interviewer had just asked the question again, and Dion mangled it, fair enough to show it, I think.
    But the interviewer went right back to Square One, after the error, and started the interview over as if they were sitting down together for the first time, right down to the “hellos.” I think in those circumstances it was unethical to run it, even if it doesn’t strictly violate journalistic ethics, however finessed those have become.
    As for criticizing Dion because of this, I don’t get it. This wasn’t a deliberately stupid answer to a clear question (eg. Harper’s “there are buying opportunities”) but an answer to an unclear question from someone who wasn’t sure what period of time he was being asked to discuss. Have you watched the whole thing? I am a native born English speaking Canadian, and I couldn’t tell what the interviewer wanted him to say either.
    So what if he starts referring to his anti-poverty plan: long day, tired, second language — have none of you ever made a mistake when you’re speaking to someone else?
    If you haven’t, maybe you should run for office, because I can’t think of a leader who hasn’t mis-spoken at one time or another, and I don’t see that as having much impact on their leadership one way or the other.
    Anyone who listened to Dion at the debates knows what he intended to do about the economy within the first 30 days. Let’s not stoop so low that we seize on this kind of silliness as evidence that he is incompetent or has no plan. It is a legitimate question to ask if his language skills might impede his ability to do this job, and we can ask the same of Harper, whose French is also uneven. But if this kind of attack – that this back and forth shows a lack of any plan — is the best the Tories can come up with to try to persuade people not to vote for Dion, it’s a damn petty campaign that’s being waged out there and doesn’t really persuade me to vote for the Conservatives.
    As for Duffy, I lost all respect for him when he accosted Margaret Trudeau on Parliament Hill at a memorial and reminded her that it was her dead son’s birthday, then showed that televised clip as well.

  54. BJG- He has. Do you know who’s English has improved in the same time frame?

  55. That’s whose English, please.

    I have the feeling that CTV originally said they wouldn’t air the first takes, but the interviews were so bizarre that they had to air them.

    In any case, nobody in the major outlets is airing the three takes, so people don’t get a real idea of this train wreck unless they go to the internet.

Sign in to comment.