Over doing Dion’s do-over


In Winnipeg, the Tory campaign went a little weird with glee over Stéphane Dion’s awkward interview moment. They rolled out a TV to show tape of Duffy’s treatment of the episode to the media on the tour. Stephen Harper came out to do a quick scrum on the subject. And, holy cow, Kory Teneycke even announced that the usual rigid rules with respect to asking the PM questions would be lifted for this very, very special event. “OK, guys, you can go old-school,” Teneycke said. “Just shout your questions out—you’ve been waiting for this.” Harper spoke quietly, as though much was riding on every syllable. “When you’re running a trillion-and-a-half-dollar economy,” he said, “you don’t get a chance to do a do-over, again and again.”

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Over doing Dion’s do-over

  1. Wait a minute, is this one of those Potter columns? Good one Geddes, but still no Potter.

  2. Did he actually take questions? On the clip I saw, he just gave what sounded like a reaction, and then walked away.

  3. I wonder if Duffy e-mailed the Con’s the moment he had this.

  4. Duffy does seem to be way over the top with his partisan support of CPC.

    The journalists present should have asked questions about something completely different at Teneyke’s encouragement.

    Lizzie May smacked him down for his low journalistic ethics earlier this week; I guess he’s just proving her point.

  5. Boy, Liberal Central, I mean Macelean’s Blog Central is in conniptions over the media showing Dion’s inability to field a simple question on the critical issue of the day. On an issue that Dion has been criticizing Harper relentlessly.

    Potter, O’Malley and Geddes are in the tank for the Libs. You guys need to go back to journalism school pronto.

  6. You know the media’s in the tank for the Libs when its an outrage if they don’t play cover for their guy.

    A new sense of entitlement.

    Media cover.

  7. So just to recap:

    It a very tough world with huge problems facing our country and stiff adversaries waiting to exploit us (Russia, USA),

    the concern isn’t this guy can’t handle a little outtake without getting completely flustered,


    the concern around here is that we’re actually REVEALING this incredible weakness so that voters can decide for themselves.

    Then again, some here were arguing that letting the public actually know our banking system isn’t crumbling (but is actually flourishing),
    is something only conservatives would want, and were content to keep the public in the dark about partisan political gain.

  8. Geddes, Potter, O’malley it’s like a Liberal tanker coming out party.

  9. Paul Wells quite rightly analyzes future Tory leadership hopefuls French today and yet it is shameful to analyze Dion’s English today.
    Je ne comprend pas

  10. Jarrid,

    Maybe you should go back to etiquette school rather than baselessly insulting people.

    As most people are aware, Dion has a hearing problem. It is really cheap politics that Harper tried to capitalize on this. And says way more about his character and campaign than Dion’s ability to respond to a question he has regularly answered.

  11. What a disgrace and embarrassment that man is to Canada, and even to the Liberal Party.

    Can you imagine the wars — literally! — he could start when meeting with foreign heads of state and government?

    Thank you, I’ll take Harper any day, at least he’s (halfway) competent.

  12. Dion can’t hear, but Harper can’t listen.

  13. I liked the fact that Dion asked for clarification on the question several times – to me it shows he wanted to answer the specific question. I know many politicians would just give a generic response that wouldn’t really answer the question.

  14. Interesting how hungry the Harper team was in going for the jugular – the past-tense, future-tense question could have been handled better, but its nothing like telling people who are worried about their futures “hey, someone can really make a swift buck off your misfortune! Let the good times roll!”
    Guess their eagerness shows how desperate they’ve become. But we already knew that.

  15. A truly shameful moment in Canadian so-called news reporting.

    Can-West couldn’t be more transparent about which side its bread is buttered on.

    Just watch Stephen Harper appoint Mike Duffy to the Senate.

  16. Kody, are you worried about capitulations such as giving away a billion dollars in illegally collected duties to foreign competitors when all independent observers suggested Canada was in the right and shouldn’t back down, and indeed was likely about to have a foreign court make a binding ruling in Canada’s favour?

    You’re right, we only see that kind of kowtowing weakness from the likes of Stephen Harper.

  17. Why is it that you gleefully cheer at every stumble the Cons do while disparage anyone who shows and comments that DION really is not fit to be a leader of a G8 nation. Watch and judge for yourselves, take off your partisan hats for a while and honestly think of what’s at stake here for CANADA !!!


  18. If Dion was meeting with ‘adversaries’ I assume either said adversaries or their translators would be able to speak better English than Steve Murphy.

  19. Harper goes lower than a snakes belly says Don Martin … not exactly a Dion apologist.

    I agree. They look to every opportunity to make fun of Dion’s language, culture or personality.

    Sickening. Reminds me of ’93.

  20. Remember the one about those who live in glass houses? How many Canadian anglophones could have answered — in decent French — the convoluted question that was posed? How many anglophones could even repeat the question and get the verb tenses correct? Once elected, the guy will be surrounded by aides and advisors and translators — cut the guy some slack.

    Anyway, in a country where the voters in only five ridings (make that four) actually get to vote for our possible future prime minister, this dissection of the leaders’ PR campaigns is becoming tedious. I’d like to hear more about what’s happening in other ridings!

    Or maybe some analysts could spend a bit of time analyzing whether the economic meltdown was deliberately engineered to shut down the growth in renewable energy investment and stop everyone in North America from talking impending climate catastrophe. Can you say methane timebomb? Our media sure aren’t sayin’ it much.

  21. Dion couldn’t answer that he would have implemented the Green Shift Tax as that isn’t going over in Halifax…so he was improvising and using his incomprehension. Ignatieff was interviewed in Quebec and stated support for Dion on the Green Shift as it is what defined his career. Bob Rae says they wouldn’t introduce it in these ‘uncertain times’. The Liberals are still a divided party with a leader the are propping up all over the place just to save the Liberal brand. So is this Dion’s Hidden Agenda? Only bring it out in Toronto?

  22. Don Martin , Not a Dion apologist? Give me a break. I have read Martin’s diatribes way back in Calgary Herald days and I tell you he is no Harper lover ever. So zipp it with being apologists . This is not a French thing, not even a Duffy thing. Plain and simple Dion is NOT ONE to be trusted under pressure and stress. In these troubled economic times, will anyone trust a man who cannot make judgement under pressure ? Think of CANADA, not your partisan instincts…

  23. MJPatchouli,

    “Lizzie May smacked him down for his low journalistic ethics earlier this week”

    Were her ethical comments up to par, along those lines of: “Harper is a fraud! Harper est une fraude! ” ?

  24. If this happened during a print interview, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. But because of the Election “TV POOL” agreement, the tv outfit shooting the interview is obligated to share it with every other member of the “pool.” It now has more legs than a centipede, but lacks content.

  25. Dan in the van,

    “Guess their eagerness shows how desperate they’ve become. But we already knew that.”

    Extremists, anyone???

  26. I don’t think this is an issue with Dion and international meetings, because I do remember he chaired a meeting a couple years ago with 180 countries or so and he did fine, they came out with an agreement. Interesting to see how it impacts the public though.

    There must be some truth to the message of this blog that not only is CTV’s Mike Duffy running a low blow but the Conservatives themselves. Wasn’t sure of it before, but I was convinced of that when the National Post blogged on how low it was of the Tories. Point being, this guy isnt the only one saying it. If what they are saying is true, both sides agreed not to air the outtakes, and Mike Duffy fired it up. Now, it would be hard to say whether it was a stupid move had they not made an agreement- but they made an agreement, they broke it for some attention on their side as well (CTV), cheap.

  27. LeeEllen,

    ” It now has more legs than a centipede, but lacks content.”

    See, that’s what happens when humans come out of their shell; into the real world where all politicians can catch the dis-ease.

    The legs of a centipede won’t care what skin it crawls over: Liberal, Conservative, NDP, Green or BQ.

    It really is a matter of getting out more – out there where the real world beckons.

  28. Andrew refers to the softwood lumber agreement and I’m sure he knows the power, money and huge lobby groups representing the lumber barons of the US. Canada spent millions fighting them…getting $5 billion back was a win. We could still be in the courts only now we would get’O’. Guaranteed if the Martin Liberals had won, they would have taken the deal Emerson was working on.

  29. Jo Sinclair ” don’t think this is an issue with Dion and international meetings, because I do remember he chaired a meeting a couple years ago with 180 countries or so and he did fine, they came out with an agreement. Interesting to see how it impacts the public though.

    You mean the conference where he plagiarized his speech from a supporter of the hated Republican John Maccain Is that the conference you are referring to ?

  30. In other news, Canwest Global announces an agreement to sell the franchise for Fox News Canada to CTV News, and announces it’s new flagship show, The Puffy Factor.

  31. Dion has a PhD from SciencesPo which is one of the top schools in France; he’s a smart guy. His command of the English language is pretty horrible though, def. worse than Chrétien.

    Who would you want as PM during an economic meltdown? An economist? Someone who can’t speak English? I would want someone with good judgement who remembers that behind the macroeconomic indicators are people – Canadians.

  32. Just reinforces Harper’s mean streak and willingness to beat up on people.

    So what if the guy has trouble understanding an occasional complex sentence.

    And that sentence WAS ugly. Full of awkward tenses.

  33. When I saw Dion’s “awkward interview moment” I instantly recognized something I experience all too often. I’m hard of hearing, but with the help of hearing aids I get by fairly well. I’m constantly “filling in the blanks” and concentrating very hard on what’s being said but once in a while it just doesn’t work and I end up in a moment of complete miscomprehension and give an inappropriate answer. I am immediately assumed to be an idiot and the more I try to sort it out the worse it gets. The looks and reaction I get from some people are very unforgiving.

  34. Joe Average on Friday, October 10, 2008 at 1:52 am: Who would you want as PM during an economic meltdown? An economist?

    I would want a pseudo-economist, of course, preferably one who has never held a position in that discipline … More than likely one who told us “not to worry,” and drew upon his rich family history, suggesting, after he stepped in doggy doo, “It’s an omen, now is a good time to buy.”

    Harken back to ’93 when John Tory, the ‘wise’ man of political backrooms, thought it would be a good idea, to emphasize Jean Chretien’s facial paralysis. I think ‘Gotchas’ like that represent a small man, fearful of losing the contest.

  35. Dear Sir

    Mr. Dion, who has a hearing problem, was a bit confused about the question that was being asked in his second language. After some clarification he went on to respond to the question.

    Mr. Harper, once again, showed his true mean spiritedness by attacking Mr. Dion over a momentary confusion. This is the same type of attack that was launched by Kim Campbell against Mr. Chretien. Mr. Dion has a plan to help this country find a way out of this recession. Mr. Harper, like Ms. Campbell, thinks that now is not the time to ask serious questions, but it is the time to denigrate others for their handicaps. We have this same attitude from Mr. Baird and Mr. Polievre in the past.

    Mr. Harper can wear all the sweaters that he wants, but he will always be a shoddy, smallminded, shallow and vindictive little man.

  36. My god. CTV has sunk to the level of the Paparazzi.
    At best, Mike Duffy has aspired to the journalistic heights of America’s Funniest Home Videos.
    A black day for journalism- a black day for CTV

  37. Moi, je suis anglophone. Je peux bien répondre à(ou même répéter) cet question dans les deux langues officiels. Je veux, donc, un premier ministre qui pourrait faire la même chose.

    Also, my mother is deaf (very deaf), and she never screws up like this. Once she hears the question properly, she responds just as well (or better) than anyone, and in both languages.
    Being deaf is not an excuse, it’s a challenge, an impairment like any other. You’re supposed to overcome it, not hide behind it.
    Granted, people are mocked unfairly, as it’s an invisible handicap. It hurts and is often unfair. The Tories aren’t throwing the mud at Stephane’s deafness, but CTV is muckraking like nobody’s business.

  38. Watching the entire clip, I was struck that although Dion was confused at first with the phrasing of the question, he was later laughing heartily at the ongoing absurdity of the situation. I notice that CBC only showed the first part. His willingness to laugh at himself I found rather endearing. He came off well in my opinion. Can’t imagine Stevie unbending that much.

  39. If the media wants to insert itself into the election, now would be a good time for Don Martin to release his copy of “Harper’s Handbook to Dysfunctional Committees” to the public.

  40. After all the crap about Harper for not smiling right during that 4 on 1 scrum, and the rush to play Harper as the control freak deer in the headlights it is refreshing to see:

    * what Dion would do different after complaining for days about Harper’s empathy.

    * Globe editorial: “If you want to meet the most inflexible head of a major political party, Mr. Dion takes it in a cakewalk”.

    * Canada #1 in the world for banking stability

    * Sept. job growth 10X expected, 30 year record, manufacturing losses for year erased.

    The Globe is right: “the Liberal team has not made adequate use of its time out”

    Rae: “Any government coming in has to take circumstances into account, but the direction is very clear.”

    Ignatieff: “we need to adjust in front of unpredictable (times).”

    Rae/Ignatief do-over: “We want to be perfectly clear we are in complete agreement with our leader”

    Dion (average of all takes): Harper has no plan. I plan to have a plan in 30 days. It’s not easy making plans. The economy must fit my plan. Can we have another do-over?

  41. Come on, is this getting silly?

    Werner Patels wrote “Can you imagine the wars — literally! — he could start when meeting with foreign heads of state and government?”

    Newsflash Werner, English isn’t the first language of most of the FOREIGN heads of state either. I am guessing they would sympathize with PM Dion and productive meetings might occur.

    If PM Harper and his team had put as much effort into developing a Platform that they have in tearing down their opponents, Canadians might have actually voted for him in confidence.
    What does it say when this is the first time in the campaign that the Tories have allowed reporters to ask unscripted questions of our sitting Prime Minister.

    Sad all around.

  42. Just watched the whole thing. If Murphy had had the sense to re-phrase the question instead of being married to his script – all he had to say was, “What I mean is, if you’d been PM for the past year (or whatever), what would you have done?” I’m willing to give Dion the benefit of the doubt on this one.

    As for running the whole piece, with the “do-overs” – that’s a pretty low blow.

  43. Dion had no problems hearing the question neither did he have any problems with the language as it wasn’t an english word he was looking for it was : finding an answer : instead he did a french Paul Martin and tried to dither his way out by repeating his ridiculous mantra of ‘ the plan boss the plan! It was painful watch and Harper didn’t makwe fun of his english or pick on poor little Dion what he did was make the obvious point – Dion doesn’t have a clue about what is going on right now and has nothing to offer except meetings (the ultimate refuge of a bureaucrat caught in the act) – I can see it all now if Dion ever achieved the impossible and actually became the PM : Top Secret UN and NATO meeting President Obama says Iran just tested a nuke so I’m getting ready to push the big red button ‘what do you think Brown?’ : Nuke em! ‘ what do you think Dion?’ = hmmmm we have a plan 30 days and then 50 or is it 80 wait a sec do you mean like now or nuke em in a few days or what was it again = can we have a do over?

  44. The whole situation seems highly reminiscent of the old Conservative attack ad that mocked Jean Chretien’s facial paralysis. But that at least was admittedly partisan and over the top. For a supposedly neutral national broadcast this behaviour is reprehensible at the best of times and, during an election, smacks of partisanship and an attempt to influence the news, rather than report it. CTV as TMZ.

  45. On October 9th, on CTV’s Live At Five program, newsman Steve Murphy once again showed his audience he would be a natural to work with Stephen Harper. He betrayed the trust of his guest, and did what he said he wouldn’t do. And then, to add insult to injury, he tried to justify his actions and protect his integrity by spinning his treachery to look like honesty. Well, as Stephan Dion has said many times about Harper, that action says more about him than it does about anything else! If he had been a truly honorable and ethical newsman, and if his producers were also honorable and people of integrity, they would have refused the Liberal request to not show those bits of the interview that were in question before proceeding with what turned out to be the completed version. But they did not! Instead, after Dion had left the building, they decided in their wisdom that we all needed to see those parts they had earlier agreed to omit, and that made them no better than outright liars. Murphy is a journalist that likes to think he’s smarter than most of his guests, and whenever he has a guest on discussing any topic that might be remotely controversial, he goes for the jugular in an attempt to get the guest to say more than he intends. That tactic also says more about Murphy than it does about his guests, and the fact that his efforts to confront rarely end in success says a considerable amount about just how smart Murphy really is (or is not). He insults their intelligence with these confrontational tactics, throws his own abilities as an interviewer into question every time he fails to get the desired result, which is almost always, and insults the intelligence of his viewers by trying to use those methods to make us thinks he’s good at his job. He needs to change his tactics and he needs to examine his motives. And he really should get a job working for Mr Harper, where honor, integrity and ethics all seem to be disposable ideals.

  46. Kady – of course he took questions. He always takes questions. He just doesn’t answer them…

  47. Oh, c’mon now Jerry. Potato Head asks “intelligent” questions if his script has an “intelligent” question on it.
    Other than that he talks about the weather with the babe.

  48. Don’t worry only 42,000 hits on youtube (so far)

    I’m sure no one will notice


  49. @David White “Can you imagine the wars — literally! — he could start when meeting with foreign heads of state and government?”

    ‘Newsflash Werner, English isn’t the first language of most of the FOREIGN heads of state either.’

    Actually, I think Mr. Patels could have been referring to our neighbour to the south under McCain, or worse still Palin who’s English is arguably worse than Dion’s – they are at least level on enunciation.

  50. Get a life and keep it simple stupid. Simply put Harpers stupidity today lost my vote.

  51. I think that changing your mind over not airing a portion is unethical.

    BUT apparently an aid or manager is helping Dion out to understand the question, I am pretty surprised that Dion couldn’t grasp the question and then just go into the usual rhetoric that they all spout no matter the color of their sweater.

    The man simply isn’t a leader of a country and I don’t need CTV to tell me that.

    One would wish our media would try to maintain objectivity but those days are long long gone.

  52. Dion’s supposed gaffe:

    Dear commenter’s. Just a short note on your comments. I will refrain from judging any of your comments, but wish to point out that Dion was actually correct in trying to understand Steve Murphy’s grammatically incorrect question. I am not a Liberal supporter, and not a Dion supporter, but this “gaffe” and its ensuing exposure on YouTube begs to question, was it all intentional, and is Steve Murphy no more than a CDN version of a FOX journalist.

    Steve Murphy’s question was unanswerable unless one knew the timeframe Murphy was referring to.

    If you were Prime Minister now, {Present tense} what “would you have done” {Past progressive conditional} that Mister Harper “has not done?” {Past Progressive}

    Three different tenses in one question which Dion tries to clarify. Steve Murphy, as a professional journalist, should have clarified his question, not posed it exactly the same three times.

    The fact that Dion did not proceed with the correct answer but was overly polite with Murphy, who was surely trying to gaff Dion with this approach, shows he is ot a great public speaker. But he is intelligent, and gave Steve Murphy the benefit of the doubt. The job of Prime Minister is to manage experts, focus policy and get things done, not look great in 30 second sound bites.

    Let us also look at Steve Murphy’s dour foreboding tone as if he is sadly letting us (the ignorant public) in on his investigative findings.

    Suddenly the CDN election looks interesting, perhaps because as admitted Conservative party election staff has been watching the USA elections closely, bringing us into the world that elected GW Bush. A world where people are manipulated by media, and can think a man an idiot for clarifying a question only a fool or a person with malicious intent would ask.

    Not since Derek Zoolander, or Ron Burgundy have I seen investigative journalism like this.

    Not only should Steve Murphy be our next Prime Minister, he should also win the Pulitzer prize.


  53. I will give Mr. Dion the benefit of the doubt and believe he didn’t understand due either to his poor grip of English or his learning disability. My question is, How could someone who wants to lead the country and says he will consult with Leading economists on the economy not have clarified the question with either the host or his own staff prior to take 2 and later take 3. How can you lead the country if you can’t do the most basic things.

  54. Jubi,

    A quick answer would be no. While it is clear you are misinformed, if you continued to follow the story, you would realize that Dion did in fact cite the quote which was based on a report from the Arctic Council, so thanks for the question, there’s the answer for your enlightenment :) So yes, while you are missing the point, he still was able to complete that International conference without problem, dont think it will be a problem now.

  55. I’ve never heard a spoken question phrased that way. I found the whole incident offensive and demeaning to those who don’t speak English as a first language.

    I really hope the advertisers who buy air time on CTV take note of all the complaints about the incident.

    I thought the story lacked journalistic merit. It was a cheap shot and no matter how the Conservatives spin or propagate it that’s how a lot of Canadians will perceive it.

  56. Get a life and keep it simple stupid. Simply put Harpers stupidity today lost my vote.

    Damn! LOL.

  57. Actually the funniest part of this whole thing happened about half way through the Mike Duffy Live segment, shortly after Duffy introduces the panel. Geoff Regan had just provided the thankfully very brief but also very weak excuse that Mr Dion has a hearing problem.

    After some silence Mike Duffy seems a bit taken aback and starts in with “Is that it, uh, James, is it, is it, uh, is it a physical impairment..?” Geoff Regan starts to answer but then stops, having realized that Mike now seems to be addressing James Moore. This is followed by more silence and then Mike looking annoyed that Geoff isn’t answering; the confusion continues for a little while longer.

    So Mike Duffy, who seems to be so anxious to be outraged that Mr Dion didn’t understand an ambiguous question, can’t keep a simple discussion between two English speakers on track; is ironic an appropriate word here?

  58. It should not be referred to as a “botched interview,” and if it was botched, it was not Stephane Dion who botched it. I’m a professional freelance copy editor, and if Murphy’s phrasing had been presented to me in print, I would have sent it back for clarification. It looks to me like he was trying to play the usual game of “I’ll ask you an unintelligibly worded question, and you take the opportunity to say any old bullshit you want to get off your chest.” To his credit and to Murphy’s and CTV’s shame, Mr. Dion understands the value of using words precisely (and the concept of circumstances changing over time, from “two and a half years ago” to next week to “today”). It has nothing to do with his hearing problem or French being his first language. I regularly find that immigrants (some, anyway) who have had to learn English use it far more carefully and well than native English speaking Canadians. Mr. Dion’s only fault was in not anticipating the customary disingenuousness. Murphy should be relieved of his duties until he learns to use English as honestly as Mr. Dion. No problem with me if that turns out to be never.

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