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Stephen, Thomas, Elizabeth, Justin . . . and me

Paul Wells on how his eccentric quest to build a better debate actually happened


 
PAUL WELLS MEDIATES THE MACLEAN'S LEADERS DEBATE. (DILLAN COOLS/MACLEAN'S)

PAUL WELLS MEDIATES THE MACLEAN’S LEADERS DEBATE. (DILLAN COOLS/MACLEAN’S)

During breaks at the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate on Thursday in Toronto, each leader had the right to a few minutes’ downtime with one other person. For Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, that person was Gerald Butts, his one-time McGill roommate and closest adviser. The NDP’s Tom Mulcair was visited by Jim Rutkowski, a veteran of NDP politics in British Columbia. Elizabeth May’s corner adviser was her daughter, Victoria-Cate, who has often been at her side for the decade May has been the Green party’s national leader. Perhaps I should have been less surprised that the other leader in the room, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, made a similar choice: His corner man was his son, Ben, a tall and lanky Queen’s University varsity volleyball player who has rarely been seen at Harper’s public events before now.

Ben Harper’s presence was all the more striking because, unlike May, Harper is staffed to the gills with the squadrons of advisers and strategists that attend any modern prime minister. But in the pressure of a nationally televised leaders debate, any leader might prefer the occasional note of reassurance instead of yet more urgent strategizing. So Harper and his son chatted quietly, both looking down at the floor, before J.D. Dynes, the debate broadcast’s redoubtable floor manager, cleared the room for the next phase of debate.

I had a chance to watch all this because I had the best seat in the house, as the debate’s moderator. I noticed how quiet and intimate these moments were, because it wasn’t until the debate was under way that anything about this whole made project seemed at all low-key.

When this began, I wanted to simplify political debates in Canada.

Well, that makes it sound entirely altruistic. When I started stewing about the effective television-network oligopoly on political debates in Canada, two elections ago, in 2008, I was mostly just fed up with the notion that there was only one entity in Canada with a mandate to organize debates, the so-called consortium of the big television broadcast networks. They had organized the first debate in 1968, which is online and worth watching, because it presents the spectacle of Robert Stanfield in surprisingly high spirits and wicked humour, as a steamroller named Pierre Trudeau prepares to roll right over him. And they presented every other debate among party leaders ever since.

Now, this made perfect sense in 1968, when television cameras were the size of pickup trucks and only the massed human capital of the entire Canadian television industry could crunch the challenge of getting a live TV signal out across the land. And the consortium has always been conscientious about the debates it presents. If, in recent years, some of their productions had grown clumsy and cumbersome, with panels of journalists taking turns asking questions within an increasingly ornate format, other debates, even recently, have been spry and fun, with nobody in the arena but a veteran broadcaster like Steve Paikin or Stéphan Bureau brandishing a whip and a chair.

Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives with his wife Laureen at the venue for the Maclean's national leadership debate in Toronto August 6, 2015. Canadians go to the polls on October 19, 2015.  (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives with his wife, Laureen, at the venue for the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate in Toronto on Aug. 6 (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Still, by the last couple of elections, there was no real reason why anybody else should consent to the consortium’s ownership of debates. Cost of entry for live broadcasting has collapsed, then collapsed again, until—these days—you can host a live video broadcast from the phone in your pocket. Other news organizations have questions. So do organizations that aren’t even in journalism—universities, the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, interest groups, student councils, what have you.

Miss the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate? Watch our video replay.

So, in 2008, I poked fitfully around to see whether Maclean’s wanted to organize a debate, probably in cahoots with other print outfits such as the Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star. Of course, this idea only occurred to me when that year’s campaign was nearly upon us, and it went nowhere. In 2011, I tried harder, because, for a minute, in the early stretches of that campaign, it seemed Harper and Michael Ignatieff might be flirting with a one-on-one debate. When each leader started making that kind of noise, I called David Naylor, who was then the president of the University of Toronto, and asked if he’d give us a hall for a debate. He agreed immediately. Naylor was a rare university president who actively enjoyed stirring up a little trouble. But, in a series of phone calls with the Conservatives’ lead debate negotiator, Tom Long, I quickly realized Long’s mandate was to sound agreeable without ever agreeing to anything. The idea died a tidy death about four days after it began.

Fast-forward to this January, when I had coffee with a senior NDP source for a story I was writing in which unnamed senior sources would appear. As we paid our tab, I asked whether there was any truth to the silly rumour, which I believe I read in the Hill Times, that the NDP and Conservatives wanted to have many more debates than usual, to smoke out Justin Trudeau. “Well, we certainly do,” Senior Source said.

Hmm. Suddenly, there were probably going to be a larger number of debates. I was damned if they were all going to be somebody else’s. Some of the parties had a strategic interest in multiplying these confrontations, but so what; my strategic interest was to blow up the consortium oligopoly, and the risks inherent in debating would weigh as heavily on the instigators, NDP and, eventually, Conservative, as on their supposed target. And all involved were adults who could make their own decisions. In April, when the contours of the long summer pre-campaign to a fall election became clearer (but long before Harper surprised us all by starting the election in August), I asked Maclean’s Editor-in-Chief Mark Stevenson whether we could propose a debate.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and his wife Catherine Pinhas Mulcair arrive at the Maclean's National Leaders Debate. (Jenna Marie Wakani/NDP)

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and his wife Catherine Pinhas Mulcair arrive at the Maclean’s National Leaders Debate. (Jenna Marie Wakani/NDP)

He agreed. Crucial to the success of the whole enterprise was that neither of us gave much thought to what it would entail. When we published an editorial arguing for greater variety in leaders debates, I actually had in my mind a vague picture of four party leaders (well, three; my own boss had to talk me into inviting Elizabeth May) showing up at the Maclean’s office on Albert Street in Ottawa and plunking themselves down around a conference table. I’d put my smartphone in the centre of the table, start the recording app, and off we’d go.

A half-hour after the issue with our debate editorial hit the streets in Ottawa, Julian Morelli called me from May’s office and accepted our offer. May has, for obvious reasons, not been in the business of playing hard to get when it comes to debate invitations. But then the NDP called and expressed serious interest. The Conservatives were slightly more cagey, and more than a month passed before Trudeau’s office even acknowledged receipt of our invitation. That makes sense; Trudeau’s Liberals were still leading in the polls, and he was receiving dozens of debate invitations, so I took the radio silence from his camp as no kind of snub.

There began two series of conversations: one external, with the parties, and one internal, with my colleagues at Rogers.

The negotiations with the parties were pretty straightforward. Because we’d opted early for a simplified design—four leaders, one moderator, no live audience, no questions beamed into the studio via Skype or Snapchat—we had few details to argue about. I had hoped the leaders could sit around a table with me. Nobody liked that idea. They would stand. I didn’t want opening or closing remarks; Morelli from the Green party pushed hard for two-minute closing remarks, which is a really long time on TV. I relented. When the Liberals joined the conversation, they liked almost no part of our plan. Trudeau, who thinks of himself as a man of the people, wanted a town-hall format.

But I had three birds in the hand, including Harper, by this point, and I risked losing them if I changed the format to please Trudeau. Then where would we be? And there was something else. I’ve been interviewing politicians for 25 years, and some of the questions have been dumb, but I’ve never hit pause on the recorder, said “Excuse me,” and run out into the street to ask a passerby what my next question should be. Maybe that would be a fascinating experiment, but it wouldn’t be journalism. The sun doesn’t rise and set on journalism, but maybe it’s not an utterly defeated model yet, either. Finally, the Liberals agreed to participate.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau arrives for the leaders' debate in Toronto on Thursday Aug. 6, 2015. (Frank Gunn/CP)

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau arrives for the leaders debate in Toronto on Aug. 6 (Frank Gunn/CP)

Mark Stevenson and I at Maclean’s were mightily aided by the enthusiasm of Steve Maich, a former Maclean’s writer who is now the head of Rogers Publishing. Quite soon, we found colleagues at Citytv who shared our enthusiasm for the project, and who, frankly, massively outgunned the likes of me in technical expertise.

Then things got very large, very fast. The debate project got a full-time project manager. I was assigned a full-time TV producer. Weekly conference calls grew to nearly 20 participants, then became twice-weekly calls, then became nearly constant. Facebook and Twitter came up with fun ways to augment the experience of watching the debate and interacting with the issues. Our astonishingly prolific managing editor Sue Allan and her team pushed out mass quantities of online articles and videos and pointers relating to debate topics. Rogers’ Omni television network ensured the project would be translated into Italian, Punjabi, Mandarin and Cantonese. (On the day of the debate, I met the Punjabi interpreter. She asked me why I speak so fast.)

The person in marketing who dresses everybody on Sportsnet (except, I have to assume, Don Cherry) was put in charge of finding me a proper necktie. She wanted to buy me a suit, but I showed her photos of my newest suit and she backed off, at least partly mollified. We went through seven ties that didn’t work before finding one that did. It couldn’t be red, blue, orange or green, because those are gang colours in Ottawa. We settled on purple.

For five days that spread across two weeks, I rehearsed in Toronto with fake party leaders. I’m not a TV guy, so Charmaine Wong, my patient producer, had the veteran Citytv anchor Gord Martineau give me pointers. “You’re in control,” Gord said. “Don’t let these guys walk all over you.” I practised shouting, “EXCUSE ME,” Gord Martineau-style, from the gut, in case things got out of hand. Fortunately, they didn’t.

At no point did anyone, from any political party or any corner of Rogers, try to exercise any influence over the questions I would ask. It was eerie. As the day of the debate approached, probably hundreds of Rogers employees and a quantity of money I would not care to estimate were marshalled to produce this unprecedented and, yes, very weird broadcast. Nobody tried to influence my journalistic choices. I had to ask colleagues—John Geddes, Aaron Wherry, Mark Stevenson, Alison Uncles and a few others—for suggestions. In a world where more and more journalists have their work vetted and circumscribed by their bosses, the freedom we had to make sure the Maclean’s debate would really be a Maclean’s debate was gratifying.

TORONTO, ON- August 6 - Green party Leader Elizabeth May waves to her supporters before facing off with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in the first election debate. August 6, 2015 Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star   (Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May waves to her supporters before facing off with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair in the first election debate, on Aug. 6 (Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

On the day of the debate, I showed up for one last round of promotional TV interviews and a final rehearsal. But something nagged at me. The ground-floor Citytv studio at Dundas Square in Toronto has an open ceiling, and sound drifts up to the second floor unimpeded. The second floor was the one reserved for Harper and the Conservative campaign staff. They’d done a site visit earlier and would return for the main event.

Were any Conservative staffers still on the second floor?

We sent someone up to check. There was one staffer, probably just guarding luggage, but I couldn’t risk rehearsing with real questions while anyone could hear. So, for the final rehearsal, I sat at the moderator’s desk and we turned on the lights and cameras while four stand-in fake leaders debated any question I could make up on the spot. Do the Avengers movies make independent film production harder to finance? Is barbecuing better than a skillet? Our fake “Stephen Harper”—Canadian Business editor James Cowan—revealed an unsettling fondness for grilled-cheese sandwiches made with mayonnaise instead of butter. The other leaders tore that notion apart as if it were a new tax benefit. It actually helped everyone unwind before the debate.

You’re a better judge than I of how it all worked out. I found the four leaders to be genuinely accommodating, willing to let their colleagues talk; willing to take direction, interruption and hard questions from the moderator. I think we confirmed what nobody should ever doubt: that substantive debate about real issues can make for compelling viewing. The traffic on our website and Twitter and Facebook suggests the whole country took notice. We showed that there’s another way to do these things. I won’t quit my day job. The campaign continues. Many more surprises lie ahead. Count on it.


 

Stephen, Thomas, Elizabeth, Justin . . . and me

  1. Great piece. I agree with a lot of the ‘break-up the consortium’ stuff. It would, however, be a shame if the result is that there is not a debate this campaign that receives truly national coverage (i.e., broadcast simultaneously on CBC, CTV, Global, etc).

    What exactly, prevented them from broadcasting last night’s?

    • There was a bit of a mad as hell eruption on the CBC’s Ontario wide phone in at noon today, as rural listeners complained they were unable to the debate in any form. Low level internet, no cable etc.
      I was shocked to learn from them that a powerful Rogers AM station 680 news in Toronto which blankets a huge chunk of Southern Ontario, did not carry the debate.

  2. Thank you Paul Wells for working so hard to get this going and doing such a good job running it. It’s worth watching when the questions are as good as those. My only regret is that you’re not going to do a follow up late in the campaign.

  3. You did an excellent job last night Paul. Kudos to you and Macleans.

  4. Good work Paul.
    In retrospect the decision to include Elizabeth May was the smartest thing you guys did. That’s one thing that is getting kudos all around.
    I don’t see how any subsequent debate can have credibility or legitimacy if May is not included.
    This years climate news is starting to convince people we have a problem. She has to be there.

    • “This year’s climate news is starting to convince people we have a problem”… you mean the fact that we are now at 18 years and 7 months with absolutely no rise in temperatures and the warmists have all said we should only start to worry about their models if the data doesn’t show warming after 15 years??? I don’t know where in Canada you live but we’ve had about 2 weeks of summer in Ontario after one of the longest, coldest winters in decades and it’s already starting to cool off again. I’m waiting for this warming you all keep going on about – we could use some of it right now.

  5. You were fantastic. I can only offer compliments. I loved the debate itself, and the tremendous wealth of information I found on this platform today. Your questions, timing and direction were excellent, Maestro Wells. I liked the dynamic personality of Justin Trudeau, with second choice for favourite debater to Harper. Elizabeth May hit the highest note on the Climate Accountability Act voted in the house but killed in the Senate without a single day of study by Senators, a first in the history of this country according to Ms. May, and great scandal. Mr. Mulcair lost all possibility of getting my vote.

    Missing from the debate would be the issue of pensions. It’s more than a fight between liberal Wynne and conservative Harper. Old age comes more quickly than we think, and retirement is in everybody’s future.

    • The Liberal Party did far worse than the Climate Accountability Act when they refused to pass Mulroney’s GST legislation, and Mulroney was forced to appoint extra Senators to get a money bill through the unelected and unaccountable Liberal Senate.

      But it doesn’t fit the current progressive narrative, so they forget history.

      Strange that the Liberal’s love the GST now, and can’t wait to ramp it back up again, along with a likely carbon tax (however they choose to price carbon, which they have promised), and along with hikes in regressive payroll taxes to fund their misguided pension policy.

      • Obviously the Senators could count and were aware of Section 26 of the Constitution Act. They were just as much partisan hacks in 1991 as they are nowadays.

        The Climate Accountability Act did not pass.

        In another debate, in 1984, Mulroney telling Turner – you had a choice, not to appoint senators. It was later revealed that Mulroney already had at the point a list of his candidates for appointment to the Senate.

        Definitely, Harper is no different from his predecessors, which may explain why I really liked Harper last night. He truly is a Canadian prime minister.

        I

      • In 2006 Harper inherited $ 14 billion surplus from Liberals and in nine years of his “economic management” added over 150 billions to national debt.
        What ever he did or did not do for the past 10 years the results are very dismal.
        There is need for change because the Reform/Alliance Party masquerading as Conservatives overstayed their welcome according to overwhelming number of Canadians (65% for other Parties versus 35% for Cons).

  6. What a way to kick off a summer campaign! Huge success. In August!! Smart of your boss to include Elizabeth May in the debate. After seeing her, nobody will want her excluded from other debates; she adds so much. This was a really good way to see the leaders in action. I definitely got to assess them better this way than the usual useless sound bites. Thank you Paul Wells and Macleans.

  7. I personally don’t have an opinion on the consortium, but I will say that, as someone who is cynical about the value of debates, this one was very good. While each leader tried to get that “zinger” (which was a pointless exercise), they did also listen and respond to each other.

    I still don’t think elections should be decided on who is the best debater, and in a sense this debate proved that for me because I don’t think there was a “winner”. What did happen was that the viewers got an opportunity to see what each party had to offer and contrast it with the other parties. And that is exactly what these debates should be about.

  8. You say that “Nobody tried to influence my journalistic choices.” Great – and good for all of the leaders.

    You also say that “The traffic on our website and Twitter and Facebook suggests the whole country took notice.” So why have you not published the results of your excellent on line polls? I have searched your site to no avail.

    I did participate in the polls. Mr. Harper appeared to be the clear loser and Mr. Mulcair appeared to be the clear winner.

    If no one “influenced your journalistic” choices, are your own or Maclean’s editorial biases stopping you from publishing those results?

    It seems to me a decision to hide the results of your own on line polls, would raise an issue about the integrity of your “journalistic choices”.

  9. Nice going Paul.

    This will be a milestone in your career.

    Cheers, you deserve it, and quite frankly, it is about time the Canadian people had someone show the competence you did here.

    We deserve it too, thanks.

    Well done man.

  10. Great job, Paul. Willy Timmermans would have been proud.

  11. Clear winner was Mr. Harper, followed by Elizabeth May, Mr. Trudeau and then Mr. Mulcair.
    I didn’t think you could be non-partisan Paul, but you did a great job. Kudos.

  12. Enjoyed the piece…thanks for sharing the background on making of the debate…however, you do speak a bit too fast!

  13. Nicely done Mr Wells! I particularly liked seeing ALL the party leaders debating, good solid questions, and lots of instant context-sensitive non-partisan statistics on the live blog commentary. This was a much better result than the stodgy old network monopoly we’ve been subject to in past debates. How about a follow-up? Thanks so much for your efforts, and those of your team and partners. Cheers, JAS

  14. Thanks for doing this. It was the most informative and engaging debate I can remember. I hope you can do another one closer to the election.

    I haven’t seen any numbers on how many viewers on various devices were watching, but on the call-in segment on CPAC after the debate there was a call from a young gal who said that she was at the cottage with some friends, all under the age of 14, and they watched the debate (under fourteen’s watching and understanding a political debate, at the cottage, in the summer …!) so it seems that there are people paying attention even though they’re at the cottage.

  15. Yes, it was a great event. Too bad so few Canadians got to see it. Right format, wrong host. It should have been hosted by at least one of the three major networks. But CityNews? What the heck is that? How dumb to have it staged by a basically Toronto Channel few Canadians have heard of let alone watch. I live in Canmore, AB.

  16. I completely understand why you, Wells, and Macleans, would want to host a debate. Well done moderating Paul, your questions were quite good including the smart follow-ups.

    What I don’t quite get is why the party leaders don’t want to do a debate for the tv broadcasters too? Steve Paiken has done a good job moderating those in past. I don’t get it. But well done PW anyhow…

  17. Mr. Wells and MacLeans, excellent job. Your questions were knowledgeable and the debate was fair on the whole. As Canada’s leading news magazine, MacLeans should be more involved in organizing federal election debate.

    Instead of short sound bites or 3rd person comments/spins, I prefer to base my vote on detailed answers from the leaders themselves. This debate gave me a clearer picture on the position of each of the leaders/parties.

    I have recently start a subscription to MacLeans magazine. I like the deep discount for subscribers, but wish your articles were longer. I particularly like your back-page obituary story on a person’s life.

  18. Great job, Paul. My wife and I both thought you did an excellent job moderating. All your hard work paid off!

  19. I was very disappointed with Paul Wells as the host of the leaders debate. He did not intervene to stop the leaders from interrupting one another as they gave their response to the questions. After 30 minutes, I switched the TV off as I was unable to listen to two leaders speaking over each other.

    • @viewer2 – The debate lasted two hours — it seems quite obvious that your impatience ruined your enjoyment … and enlightenment.

  20. I thought the debate, the moderator (Paul Wells) and the format were great. I thought the City TV outtakes and especially the facebook/twitter sections were juvenile and pathetic. I thought Paul’s questions were great and hard hitting for everyone on stage.

    In terms of winners, I don’t think there was one – and there didn’t need to be… debates aren’t “won”… they are “lost” due to the impact on the individual as a result of their performance. Starting from my perceived “losers” of the debate:

    I thought Mr. Mulclair looked downright creepy for the first half… I kept getting this picture in my head of a dirty old man trying to lure a young child into his car with candy with that smile? How did none of his staffers not tell him how creepy he looks when he smiles like that??? He was also quite rude shouting over Mr. Trudeau at points. If there was a loser, it was him as he went into this the leader and I think he lost a bunch of voters to Mr. Trudeau and Ms. May. I suspect we’ll see the NDP polls fall pretty sharply and the Greens and Liberals will pick up some of that.

    Mr. Trudeau would be next. At times he was very good… he definitely looked like he was well practiced and had some good lines. A few times though he flubbed them (like calling himself naive and his total meltdown in the last 10 seconds of his close). I think on average, he did quite well and certainly would cause some NDP supporters pause to think he could be a credible alternative to Mr. Harper.

    Ms. May was my big surprise for the evening. She was knowledgeable, respectful (which was extremely important for her after her Screechy Sally performance at the 2008 debates and at the roast this spring) and came across as having earned her place on that stage. I wasn’t a fan of including her in these debates because she doesn’t have official party status (same reason I wouldn’t include the Bloc) but I think she’s earned it and Canadian’s should hear what she has to say – even though I disagree with most of it.

    P.M. Harper was the big winner (or should I say least loser?) of the night. He went in as the one everyone had a bulls-eye on and came out with his hair un-mussed (although they do need to lay off that hairspray… his hair do is looking more like a helmet these days!). He didn’t have a brilliant performance and I think he only really “won” one segment but he didn’t need to… he needed to look Prime Ministerial, calm, steady and not on the defensive and he did that in spades. He’s the big winner because he kept his base happy (so he has his 30% in the bag) and didn’t come across as radical so he’s got some upside but best of all from his perspective Mr. Mulclair, Mr. Trudeau and even Ms. May are all fighting for the same votes that can’t stand him so it looks like they will split the left vote again.

  21. This debate was one of the finer ones I have seen to date. Not only the format, but also the moderation; Good job Mr. Wells. Tough questions, but you maintained control of the debate almost as well as Mr Mulcair maintained his temper, and how Trudeau maintained the lines he memorized beforehand.

    The article states:
    “For Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, that person was Gerald Butts, his one-time McGill roommate and closest adviser”

    Yes, the same Gerald Butts who advised Dalton McGinty Libs, and gave Ontario the Green Energy Act. I’m surprised that Harper didn’t point this out when Mulcair was on about the loss of manufacturing jobs. One of the main reasons manufacturers have been suffering is because of Gerald Butts’ (it wasn’t McGinty’s Green energy act, it was all Butts) Green energy act drove up the cost of power to the point companies weren’t profitable.

    It worked though….want to reduce greenhouse gas…..just enact policy that puts 300,000 people out of work. Ta-Da !!!…carbon footprint reduced. (along with wages and jobs)

    All in all though…good debate. Need more like this.

    • No smog. No brownouts.

      • 90% of the smog in the GTA was coming from the Ohio River valley which the windmills had nothing to do with anyway. The lack of brownouts are because the power consumption is down… happens when you blow away 300K jobs.

    • How could Harper “point this out” when he was taking credit for the Green Energy Act’s emission reductions?

      • Tresus,

        Harper was taking credit for policies that reduced Greenhouse gas emissions (and no, I don’t think he can take all of the credit for that) he was NOT taking credit for the Green Energy act. Anyone with a modicum of common sense understands that the ACT has been nothing but an unmitigated disaster…..Unless of course you happened to be the Liberal Party president at the time of its implemenation. That dude pocketed about $400 MILLION in the first year; but yeah…it’s all about saving the planet.

        Wind power makes up about 3% of all power…it is a pittance of a reduction, and has severely damaged the Ontario economy.

        • The economics of the act are irrelevant( not that there’s any reason to believe your unsubstantiated claims) to the fact that Harper took credit for reductions under the Act.
          Remove the effects of economic contraction and that 3% and what reductions are left for Harper to claim?

          • Tresus wrote:
            “The economics of the act are irrelevant”

            Well, Tresus, they economics of the act may be irrelevant to YOU…but for the few hundred thousand people who lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector…it is actually QUITE relevant.

            ( not that there’s any reason to believe your unsubstantiated claims)

            Look it up. Wind power provides SQUAT to the grid overall. It just forces us to subsidize wind farms, forcing us to sell power to the United states at far less than it costs. Great idea eh? Sell power to our manufacturing competitors south of the Border, and force our remaining manufacturers in Canada to subsidize their competion.

            “to the fact that Harper took credit for reductions under the Act.
            Remove the effects of economic contraction and that 3% and what reductions are left for Harper to claim?”

            Actually, I agree with your point here. No once can claim to have taken action to reduce the emissions. the recession took care of most of it, and the Green energy act took care of the remainder for the most part. Of course, the Green energy act didn’t reduce emissions as Wynne will claim…….it simply reduced the numbers of JOBS in the sectors which are the most emission intensive.

            Sort of like chaining someone up and not feeding them……and claiming you have helped them lose weight.

            It’s all a fraud….just like global warming.

            Follow the money.

          • Uh, no. I wrote:
            “The economics of the act are irrelevant ( not that there’s any reason to believe your unsubstantiated claims) to the fact that Harper took credit for reductions under the Act.

          • Tresus,

            Harper never mentioned the Green Energy Act; nor did he take “credit” for the Green Energy Act reducing Greenhouse gases.

            As usual, the voices in your head are deceiving you again.

          • Harper took credit for the reduction in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. More of those reductions occurred in Ontario than the rest of the country combined. In fact the national reduction came despite emissions continuing to rise in the prairies.

            He’s either claiming credit for the recession, provincial action such as the Green Energy Act, or both.
            Take your pick.

  22. good article and good job on the debate. you’re right, no one has an monopoly on a debate.

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