Macleans.ca liveblog - Canadian Leadership Debate - Day 1 - Macleans.ca

Macleans.ca liveblog – Canadian Leadership Debate – Day 1

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  • 4:53 PM Philippe Gohier – Our entire political team—including Paul Wells, Andrew Coyne, Kady O’Malley, Aaron Wherry and John Geddes—will be here at 8 PM tonight to provide analysis of tonight’s leadership debate as it happens. Check back often.
  • 7:57 PM Aaron Wherry – Greetings from the National Arts Centre in downtown Ottawa. Kady and I are here, sitting in front of a flat screen TV with the sound turned off. Perhaps we’ll fix that before the debate begins. Perhaps we won’t.
  • 8:01 PM Martin Patriquin – Round table! How quaint.
  • 8:01 PM Chris Selley – CTV informs us there is to be no touching –no touching!– by the candidates of other candidates during the debate. Mike Duffy suggests this rule is aimed at Elizabeth May.
  • 8:02 PM Andrew Potter – Winner gets to do a dance around the table and kiss the maple leaf in the middle, Igali-style.
  • 8:03 PM Aaron Wherry – Canada is not the United States. Glad we’ve got that cleared up.
  • 8:03 PM Andrew Potter – BTW, Geddes won’t be with us. I have permission from his wife to blog on his behalf.
  • 8:04 PM Martin Patriquin – Dion was in under 45 seconds. First time in history. I checked.
  • 8:04 PM Andrew Potter – Liz May’s French isn’t as good as Howard Dean’s.
  • 8:06 PM Martin Patriquin – Duceppe: “There are two economies in Canada.” In theory, he shouldn’t really care about this.
  • 8:06 PM Andrew Potter – Quebec is getting screwed, by who? Oil, and the anti-culture vote.
  • 8:07 PM Martin Patriquin – Damn right you are watching about your RRSPs, Duceppe. Retyirement’s right around the corner, right?
  • 8:07 PM Chris Selley – Australian translator. Nice touch.
  • 8:08 PM Kady O’Malley – Okay, that was discombobulating – we – Colleague Wherry and I – are in the English media room, which was supposed to have an English-only feed – but somehow, that turned into several English feeds, each of which slightly out of synch with the other, resulting in utter cacophony for the first few seconds of the debate, and utter confusion amongst the journalists present.

    It seems to be fixed now – well, sort of – but we’re all a bit out of synch ourselves. Not helping, too, is the choice of intrepreters; they do have a female for Elizabeth May, but the other four are all being voiced by frustratingly-similar sounding men. Well, other than the Australian, which makes me giggle for obvious reasons. (He’s the moderator, alas; clearly, the
    Consortium doesn’t have the same sense of whimsy as ITQ would demonstrate, were she in charge of assigning aural stand-ins.)

  • 8:10 PM Philippe Gohier – Is anyone surprised Dion’s the only one raising his hand?
  • 8:13 PM Aaron Wherry – Elizabeth May’s primary advantage when it comes to discussing economic hardship: she’s the only one at the table who doesn’t have a big MP pension awaiting her.
  • 8:14 PM Philippe Gohier – I’m wishing I had a translated feed for Elizabeth May right now, and I’m a Francophone.
  • 8:14 PM Kady O’Malley – You know, I’m really not sure about this format. I’m an oldfashioned girl – I like lecterns. Oak lecterns, even. This hybrid talkshow/panel setup is making it hard to follow the conversation, especially given the unfamiliar voices. Well, also, the camera keeps leaping around. Too often, you can’t actually tell who is talking.

    I do like the giant Maple Leaf in the middle of the table, though. Not sure about Elizabeth May’s vaguely Aztec pendant, however.

  • 8:14 PM Chris Selley – I like the roundtable format. They’re closer together, able to fix their steely gazes–okay, mostly Harper–at each other.
  • 8:15 PM Martin Patriquin – Harper has set himself up for the night with the ‘everything’s fine, we aren’t the U.S.’ He’ll be a pin cushion from here on in.
  • 8:17 PM Andrew Potter – This is interesting. Harper asked for this — a huge chunk of time just on the economy. If he can rope-a-dope his way through it, he’ll be looking for the rest of it. It’s a pretty bold gambit, given the audience for this debate.
  • 8:17 PM Kady O’Malley – Harper looks aggrieved. Why is he alone on one side of the table? Actually, Elizabeth May is there too, but as far away from him as she can get without being in the next room.
  • 8:19 PM Chris Selley – Did I follow that from Layton correctly? We’ve never been in more debt, so we need to lower credit card interest rates? Any behavioral psychologists in the audience?
  • 8:19 PM Aaron Wherry – Layton’s primary strength isn’t making sense. It’s looking very sure of himself.
  • 8:20 PM Martin Patriquin – Self-plug time: Jack still looks the same…
  • 8:20 PM Martin Patriquin –
  • 8:20 PM Martin Patriquin – Sorry, here it is.
  • 8:20 PM Kady O’Malley – “Slight challenges”? That’s rather optimistic on the part of the Prime Minister, but I guess it’s better than the reverse.

    The Dion voice is markedly deeper than the other three interpreters, by the way. That must be a wildly high-pressure gig, when you think about it. If you screw up just one word, you could lose someone an election.

  • 8:21 PM Philippe Gohier – This has to be one of the first debates where someone gets hammered for cutting income taxes.
  • 8:22 PM Philippe Gohier – They let Hugo Chavez ask questions? (Nationalize the oil industry???)
  • 8:23 PM Andrew Potter – N-E-P! N-E-P!
  • 8:23 PM Martin Patriquin – @ Phil: That’s New Brunswick for you.
  • 8:23 PM Andrew Coyne – Nationalization of the oil industry? Only in Quebec…
  • 8:24 PM Andrew Coyne – I said before the event that I thought Elizabeth May had “Joe Clark French.” I was wrong. She has Diefenbaker French.
  • 8:24 PM Martin Patriquin – Hey Liz, is that pendant bulletproof?
  • 8:24 PM Andrew Potter – Current price of gas in venezuela: 12 cents a gallon
  • 8:24 PM Chris Selley – Duceppe: Nationalize the oil industry? Madness! Next they’d be after our hydro!
  • 8:25 PM Andrew Coyne – By the way, now that I’m online, I LOVE the round-table format. People calm down and are much more conversational around a table. The problem remains that we’ve got five leaders..
  • 8:25 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: It’s over for the economy, says the moderator. Now, that’s not very supporti– oh, he meant as a *topic*. Phew. I was going to have to point him at the PM’s sanguine reassurance that the challenges are “slight”. (BTW, apologies for the inadvertantly anonymous posts earlier; I thought the software was magically adding it. Apparently not.)
  • 8:26 PM Philippe Gohier – Still, I like the idea of making Harper defend the idea of *not* nationalizing the oil industry. The question was worth it for that alone.
  • 8:26 PM Aaron Wherry – How many times did Mr. Harper shrug in answering that question? I counted at least 17.
  • 8:27 PM Kady O’M
    alley –
    Kady O’Malley: The PM is looking a little tense. You’d think he’d love a question like this – I mean, “Will you nationalize the energy sector?” In Calgary, that’s a surefire standing-O-getter.
  • 8:29 PM Chris Selley – John Howard reference! Drink!
  • 8:29 PM Andrew Potter – Yeah Kady, there must be tens of francophone votes there.
  • 8:29 PM Andrew Coyne – Should the John Howard reference not be a drinking game?
  • 8:29 PM Andrew Coyne – Whoops — that was Selley’s point..
  • 8:29 PM Philippe Gohier – I had a shot. What are you waiting for, Andrew?
  • 8:30 PM Martin Patriquin – I’m already drunk — on love.
  • 8:30 PM Philippe Gohier – What Marty meant to say is we’re liveblogging this together.
  • 8:30 PM Aaron Wherry – Kady’s on her ninth Red Bull.
  • 8:31 PM Philippe Gohier – Today? Or since the debate started?
  • 8:31 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Aaron has coffee! Starbucks coffee, even!
  • 8:32 PM Chris Selley – Harper looks positively prime ministerial listening to what I can only assume he considers undiluted drivel from Ms. May.
  • 8:33 PM Philippe Gohier – He might even give her his patented one-handed hug before the night is over.
  • 8:33 PM Chris Selley – No! No touching!
  • 8:33 PM Kady O’Malley – Wait – do English voters really not usually watch the French debate? *Really?* I always thought everyone out there diligently watched both — or neither.
  • 8:35 PM Aaron Wherry – Harper seems determined to speak as little as possible.
  • 8:35 PM pwells – Test…late arriving guy…
  • 8:36 PM Kady O’Malley – I miss the matching red ties of 2006.
  • 8:37 PM Aaron Wherry – So Harper’s defense on the listeria deaths is that he, unlike the others, recognized there were problems, he just didn’t get around to fixing them before 20 people were dead?
  • 8:37 PM Andrew Coyne – It’s often said that when we speak in another language, we play a role. Harper’s voice is quite different in French than in English — higher in register, more modulated…
  • 8:37 PM Aaron Wherry – And now it’s a Liberal who wrote the CMAJ editorial.
  • 8:38 PM Andrew Coyne – Maybe he is..
  • 8:38 PM Aaron Wherry – Unbelievable.
  • 8:38 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Ooh! Suddenly, it feels like Parliament!
  • 8:39 PM Andrew Coyne – Yet another environmental regulatory agency? Did I hear that right? Only in Quebec…
  • 8:40 PM Philippe Gohier – Alright, that’s it, Andrew. I’m filing a human rights complaint.
  • 8:41 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Okay, Duceppe finally seems to have woken up. He didn’t win any votes in Alberta with that tirade, but somehow, he doesn’t seem fussed.
  • 8:41 PM Chris Selley – Lead
  • 8:41 PM Andrew Potter – AC: The real Joanne Chianello had a neat column on this the other day in the Ottawa Citizen — an interview with Dion’s speech coach. Notice how both Dion and Duceppe have much deeper voices in French.
  • 8:41 PM Paul Wells – The “Liberal” in question would be Amir Attiran, the lead author o f the CMAJ editorial, who apparently gave Dion $200 in his leadership campaign.
  • 8:42 PM Martin Patriquin – “My kids need a planet where they can live.”
  • 8:42 PM Andrew Coyne – Lead author of the editorial in question is none other tha“““““`r““d“n Amir Attaran.
  • 8:42 PM Andrew Potter – This is why — if I may return to my traditional rant on these occasions — it’s wrong to have these segregated debates, Englsh and French kept rigidly separate. The French debate is not a national debate, that happens to be in French. It’s the Quebec debate. There is no reason we could not have bilingual debates: English the first hour, French the second, with simultaneous translation throughout. So the whole country watches, and the leaders have to talk to the whole country…I
  • 8:43 PM Paul Wells – Harper’s calling everyone by their first names. Did anyone note that already? It’s part of his Cuddle Offensive. Next thing you know he’ll have a cello.
  • 8:43 PM Martin Patriquin – My whole country *is* watching, Andrew.
  • 8:43 PM Philippe Gohier – Or perhaps they could all take lessons from Justin Trudeau and speak in both languages at the same time.
  • 8:43 PM Aaron Wherry – Too bad there weren’t half a dozen other names on that editorial. And the CMAJ didn’t publish at least two other pieces pointing out errors in the system.
  • 8:44 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: “Laissez faire” is apparently Duceppe’s “kitchen table”.
  • 8:44 PM Aaron Wherry – Oh wait. There were half a dozen other names on that editorial. And there were two other stories.
  • 8:45 PM Andrew Potter – Dion just raised a point I wish he’d made earlier. Back when he was Environment minister, he pushed hard to make Environment a central agency, along with T-board, Finance, and PCO. The idea was that every government programme would be evaluated according to its financial cost AND environmental cost.
  • 8:45 PM Chris Selley – I’m not sure if Attaran is a “Liberal,” for the record. He’s certainly a “pain in Harper’s arse.” But onto the environment!
  • 8:47 PM Aaron Wherry – The NDP war room has rushed out numbers from the treasury board that show CFIA funding for food safety going down every year from 2006 through 2010.
  • 8:48 PM Philippe Gohier – I feel like this is the first time Dion’s made a compelling case for carbon taxes over cap and trade.
  • 8:48 PM Andrew Coyne – This setting is tailor made for Dion. A very effective intervention just now — and tied it to “replace Harper” message, which only Liberals can do.
  • 8:48 PM Paul Wells – Can’t decide whether Dion is too self-effacing or whether he’s picking his shots rather cannily. One thing’s for sure, he’s talking less than anyone else around the table. But he just delivered a fairly good defence of carbon taxes over cap-and-trade.
  • 8:49 PM Paul Wells – Three pundits just made the same point. Drink!
  • 8:50 PM Chris Selley – Don’t take Elizabeth May’s word on anything.
  • 8:51 PM Philippe Gohier – Duceppe’s Kyoto obsession is tanking; no one else, not even May, is defending Kyoto.
  • 8:51 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – I can hear the occasional burst of laughter emanting from the French media room (yes, we’re segregated, but only for logistical reasons). I wish I knew what was inspiring it. Oh, and note that not one of the onsite party spinners – Brad Lavigne and Karl Belanger for the NDP, Dimitri Soudas (wearing a dashing Polo tie) and Kory Teneycke for the Conservatives, and Martin Cauchon and — someone else for the Liberals – has ventured into our tur
    f since the debate got underway. Don’t we deserve a little love?
  • 8:52 PM Martin Patriquin –
  • 8:52 PM Martin Patriquin – Harper’s stance right now is remarkably similiar…
  • 8:52 PM Chris Selley – Did he say green mort
  • 8:53 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – did the PM just say that *public servants* have “worked very hard” on his environmental plan? That seems — uncharacteristic. Usually, he only acknowledges the existence of the bureaucracy when he wants to glare pointedly at it.
  • 8:53 PM Paul Wells – Harper now actually has a Blue Sweater Vest voice. He now actually <i>sounds</i> like Perry Como when he’s trying to be reassuring. I feel like I’m wearing furry slippers when he talks. Mmmmmmmm.
  • 8:54 PM Martin Patriquin – Bipartisanship. Drink!
  • 8:54 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – The French room *loves* the UNO question – say something nice about the leader to your left. This could be fun.
  • 8:54 PM Chris Selley – I like this say something nice about your neighbour question. I can’t wait for Harper’s.
  • 8:54 PM Andrew Coyne – Say something nice about the person to your left?? Where did they FIND these people..
  • 8:54 PM Philippe Gohier – Wow, Duceppe’s really making a pitch for May’s affection.
  • 8:55 PM Chris Selley – At Hallmark, Andrew. They found them at the Hallmark store.
  • 8:55 PM Aaron Wherry – Breaking news! I see from the comments that Amir Attaran is a buddy of Michael Ignatieff. Just like that dead soldier’s father! It’s a total conspiracy!
  • 8:56 PM Andrew Coyne – When do they start passing the orange without using their hands?
  • 8:56 PM Paul Wells – Next question: Say something libelous about the person to your right.
  • 8:56 PM Martin Patriquin – Jesus, what the hell is this? Can they just hug it out and be done with it?
  • 8:57 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Aw, poor Jack Layton. I don’t think this is the night when you want the Prime Minister forced to say nice things about you.
  • 8:58 PM Chris Selley – A good father! HA!
  • 8:58 PM Martin Patriquin – This is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo pointless.
  • 8:58 PM Aaron Wherry – “Your kids are lovely.” Family really is everything.
  • 8:58 PM Andrew Coyne – You’re a good father? That’s the best she can come up with? And Hitler loved his dog!
  • 8:58 PM Andrew Potter – I actually *like* this segment. It’s the logical consequence of having five people at the table.
  • 8:58 PM Philippe Gohier – May to Harper: You’re a good father
    but you’re a dangerous fascist.
  • 9:01 PM Aaron Wherry – Layton can personalize anything. There is not a single occupation or circumstance that has not been encountered by someone close to him. He’s a sort of genius.
  • 9:01 PM Andrew Coyne – A round of ritual denunciations of personal attacks, before resuming the very thing…
  • 9:01 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Elizabeth May just stole Jack Layton’s Broadbent story!
  • 9:02 PM Paul Wells – Richard Peregrino! Drink!
  • 9:02 PM Chris Selley – Harper: We don’t NEED personal attacks. But it’s way easier than the alternative.
  • 9:03 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: What does “making choices” have to do with parliamentary civility?
  • 9:03 PM Martin Patriquin – Harper got chutzpah. “Not a leader”, anyone?
  • 9:03 PM Philippe Gohier – Half of Harper’s staff is worried about their job all of a sudden.
  • 9:03 PM Andrew Coyne – Dion rounds on him. This is not a topic Harper wants to be on.
  • 9:04 PM Chris Selley – Well, Kady, sometimes you need to choose to be uncivil for the good of the nation.
  • 9:04 PM Philippe Gohier – Did Harper just say “we can have differences of opinion on personal traits”?
  • 9:05 PM Chris Selley – Yeah, Harper’s quite rightly getting hammered on this: Taliban-lovers, firing civil servants, etc. Good stuff.
  • 9:05 PM Paul Wells – His smile’s getting a little rictus-y.
  • 9:05 PM Andrew Potter – “you are getting drowsy…”
  • 9:06 PM Paul Wells – We have Amir Attiran’s entire history of political donations, by email from Ryan Sparrow.
  • 9:06 PM Paul Wells –
    Just kidding about the Ryan Sparrow part. Hi Ryan!
  • 9:06 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Bellows of laughter coming from the French press room, I can report, over Harper’s response to Duceppe over his insistence that the Bloc is useless.
  • 9:06 PM Aaron Wherry – He donated to both the NDP and Liberals! The conspiracy grows!
  • 9:07 PM Paul Wells – Donating to the NDP is a notorious Liberal trick.
  • 9:07 PM Andrew Coyne – New drinking game: How many times Jack Layton says “Je me souvien…” And don’t say it’s accidental: this is the party whose election signs have been getting redder with each passing week…
  • 9:07 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Is the camera closing in more tightly on Harper now than at the beginning of the debate?
  • 9:07 PM Chris Selley – Harper may have a point, to be fair, about it not being the CMA itself that levelled the accusations in question.
  • 9:08 PM Andrew Coyne – Exactement.
  • 9:08 PM Andrew Potter – Dawson prof asking about guns? CHEAP.
  • 9:09 PM Chris Selley – Agreed.
  • 9:10 PM Paul Wells – It is true that the CMA doesn’t write editorials in the CMAJ. But just as the CMA wouldn’t hire a CMAJ editor who’d commission editorials calling for sloppier research methodology and more intensely septic conditions in operating rooms, I kinda doubt the lead editorial in the CMAJ normally makes arguments the leadership of the CMA would find shocking.
  • 9:10 PM Martin Patriquin – Chutzpah, part deux: Harper saying “we didn’t do this” on Fortier’s Bloc Quebec Truck promenade. “Franchement,” to quote Elizabeth May, of all people.
  • 9:11 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Dion should consider having this Scottish interpreter voice him fulltime.
  • 9:13 PM Aaron Wherry – Here’s the complete list of authors on that editorial: Amir Attaran LLB DPhil, Noni MacDonald MD MSc, Matthew B. Stanbrook MD PhD, Barbara Sibbald BJ, Ken Flegel MDCM MSc, Rajendra Kale MD, Paul C. Hébert MD MHSc. Quick. Look up their political donation records. Surely they’re all in cahoots with Michael Ignatieff.
  • 9:14 PM Paul Wells – I think it’s safe to say Harper’s French has, indeed, improved markedly since the 2006 campaign, when in a much more formal setting he frequently didn’t understand questions or his opponents’ answers. He’s still sometimes awkward, sometimes searches for words, but he hasn’t seemed frankly lost at any point tonight. His French was
    already strong in 06, and it’s continued to improve.
  • 9:14 PM Philippe Gohier – Or Leon Trotsky.
  • 9:14 PM Chris Selley – Harper: It’s only a few violent crimes!
    May: Exactly! It’s only a few violent crimes!
  • 9:15 PM Andrew Coyne – Harper’s getting ganged up on, but I suspect it doesn’t matter. If he’s got four antagonists, that
  • 9:15 PM Andrew Coyne – ‘s four parties to split the anti-Conservative vote.
  • 9:15 PM Chris Selley – “An American solution that even the Americans don’t want.” Huh.
  • 9:16 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Elizabeth May is making Harper very uncomfortable. Actually, this topic – “crime” – seems to be making him uncomfortable, which is odd, since it usually works in his favour. Maybe this format isn’t so bad – I like seeing what they do with their hands.
  • 9:16 PM Andrew Potter – “nous avons une platforme”… No You Don’t.
  • 9:17 PM Paul Wells – Stéphan Bureau is actually getting younger with every passing year. He’s like Dorian Grey, and the portrait in his attic looks like Rick Salutin.
  • 9:17 PM Andrew Coyne – This is terrific, by the way. It’s not a debate — it can’t be, with five leaders — but it’s a conversation, with a moderator to keep things from getting too chaotic. Works for me.
  • 9:17 PM Philippe Gohier – I was surprised to see Duceppe take such a law-and-order turn. He might be nervous, but Harper seems to have shifted the debate.
  • 9:18 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – So, can anyone tell who’s winning?
  • 9:18 PM Paul Wells – The Canadian voter!
  • 9:18 PM Andrew Potter – I wish Dion had answered the question: Would you defeat the government over the young-crime bill? Jack says yes…
  • 9:18 PM Aaron Wherry – Another email from the Conservative war room on the CMAJ editorial, this one pointing out the opinions expressed in the CMAJ are not necessarily those of the CMA. Fair enough. But how about an email taking on the specific points raised by the CMAJ editorial? No? Too much to ask?
  • 9:19 PM Philippe Gohier – So long as we keep drinking to clichés, I’d say we’re winning.
  • 9:19 PM Martin Patriquin – @Kady: Dion in particular. But in general the anti-Harper vote is going to stay with the Bloc, I’d say.
  • 9:20 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – I should point out that the Conservatives’ Disclaimer Fact Check has a disclaimer of its own at the bottom, which makes the whole thing that much more meta.
  • 9:20 PM Paul Wells – Meta meta.
  • 9:21 PM Chris Selley – Cor, blimey. GREAT question. Better explain that damn resolution later than never!
  • 9:21 PM Paul Wells – I would go so far as to say that, for viewers who understand French or like Dion’s Scottish interpreter, this format and these players make for better TV than the McCain-Obama debate last week.
  • 9:21 PM Andrew Coyne – A Canadian debate, asks a question about “national identity” – but of course, it’s not about <i>Canadian</i> national identity..
  • 9:22 PM Martin Patriquin – @Selley: I guarantee there will be no answer in the next four minutes.
  • 9:22 PM Chris Selley – I think Lawrence Cannon did a better job explaining it than Harper just did.
  • 9:23 PM Andrew Coyne – DIon mentions the Canadian nation. WIll Harper?
  • 9:23 PM Paul Wells – Harper mentioned “our great nation” in his Rosh Hashanah press release this week, Andrew. And he meant Canada. I wanted to email it to you.
  • 9:25 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Wait, since everyone else – other than May – voted *for* the motion, isn’t this question a gift to Duceppe? He just has to point out all the stuff that the motion *didn’t* do.
  • 9:25 PM Paul Wells – Uh-oh. The PM’s stopped using first names. Frosty! Frosty!
  • 9:26 PM Andrew Coyne – The nation resolution: sure worked a treat, huh? The Bloc’s on top federally, Charest’s more nationalist than ever, with two parties even further out, the demands continue to ratchet up: culture, more money for the fictional fiscal imbalance etc.
  • 9:26 PM Chris Selley – @Kady – But if Duceppe starts saying the motion was useless, doesn’t that make HIM look a little silly for supporting it?
  • 9:26 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley: Hey, look, it’s the arts and culture programs cuts! They snuck in under cover of segue.
  • 9:27 PM Andrew Coyne – They’re all competing to see who can pander to Quebec nationalism the most. If this was in English and French…?
  • 9:27 PM Paul Wells – I haven’t the faintest idea what Duceppe is talking about but he seems to be thinking this is his knockout punch.
  • 9:28 PM Philippe Gohier – The problem seems to be that no one is quite sure what, exactly, the nation motion is supposed to mean.
  • 9:29 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Okay, did anyone follow that? The Duceppe-Harper discussion about something I’ve never heard about and I suspect nobody else in this room had either?
  • 9:29 PM Andrew Coyne – An entire debate about Quebec! Will Ontario get its own next?
  • 9:29 PM Chris Selley – Phil, surely they’re all quite clear it’s not supposed to mean anything.
  • 9:29 PM Martin Patriquin – @Coyne: Sorry, where’s Ontario?
  • 9:30 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Hey, the last three topics have all turned into grudgesettling four-on-one attacks. Was that by accident or design?
  • 9:30 PM Philippe Gohier – Harper’s right: galas are insufferable. But since when are they an election issue?
  • 9:31 PM Chris Selley – Since shut up!
  • 9:31 PM Aaron Wherry – Just to be clear, Harper is ranting against galas. While seated at the National Arts Centre. Which is due to host a gala in October. Of which his wife is the honourary chair.
  • 9:32 PM Paul Wells – I think the Duceppe-Harper thing — about an incorrect notice given to Michel Gauthier, or a private apology denied by public acts — is indeed total absolute inside baseball, since it clearly left both Bureau and Dion baffled. But I presume it’ll make a fascinating anecdote in La Presse tomorrow or Friday.
  • 9:32 PM Andrew Coyne – He never said ordinary Canadians don’t relate to the arts. He said they didn’t relate to subsidized artists, at subsidized galas, complaining about subsidy cuts that haven’t happened.
  • 9:33 PM Andrew Potter – Right, Andrew. Real Tories only subsidize farmers. And piano lessons. And swim lessons.
  • 9:33 PM Andrew Coyne – Well you know my views on subsides in general.
  • 9:33 PM Paul Wells – Fun fact: Saturday’s rich gala, which Mrs. Harper will miss for the first time in three years because the optics are bad, is a fundraiser. It’s designed to REDUCE the NAC’s reliance on tax dollars by attracting charitable donations from the private sector.
  • 9:34 PM Chris Selley – This segment is hopeless. Harper’s defending cuts he refuses to acknow
    ledge exist.
  • 9:34 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Doesn’t Ottawa look pretty through the back window? Sorry, just wanted to do some freelance tourism boostering.
  • 9:35 PM Aaron Wherry – Stephane Dion doesn’t have a watch. Not a leader.
  • 9:35 PM Chris Selley – Nice glasses, though.
  • 9:35 PM Philippe Gohier – And since when are people who get arts subsidies not “ordinary Canadians”?
  • 9:36 PM Paul Wells – If we had supply management for the arts, would that be better?
  • 9:36 PM Martin Patriquin – We could measure it by the ton, like bitumen.
  • 9:37 PM Paul Wells – The big countdown clock behind Duceppe is a nice neo-Brechtian touch. What is time? Time is fleeting.
  • 9:37 PM Chris Selley – Is Dion in some kind of gastrointestinal distress? He seems to be… squirming
  • 9:39 PM Chris Selley – We’re down to our last 50 million bucks?! I’m off to the Green Machine!
  • 9:39 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – well, Harper’s suit is bunching oddly around his neck. They’ve all been sitting awkwardly for nearly two hours, I cut all of ’em some slack.
  • 9:39 PM Paul Wells – Julie Couillard Julie Couillard Julie Couillard.
  • 9:39 PM Paul Wells – Just wanted to get our Google blog traffic up.
  • 9:39 PM Andrew Potter – If Harper holds up a shady-hitchiker “NO 2-TIER HEALTHCARE” sign, I’m drinking an entire bottle of Canadian Club.
  • 9:40 PM Paul Wells – Rictus. Now THAT’S a rictus.
  • 9:40 PM Philippe Gohier – Julie Couillard photo.
  • 9:40 PM Philippe Gohier – Figured we should cover the bases.
  • 9:41 PM Chris Selley – It’s going to be hard to go back to Dion’s real English voice. Translator sounds like your favourite uncle’s favourite professor.
  • 9:41 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Apparently, that’s the unsegueable topic. They managed to hit all the other tripwires – arts cuts, youth crime, hyperpartisanism – but not that.
  • 9:42 PM Aaron Wherry – Is Elizabeth May still here?
  • 9:42 PM Aaron Wherry – Oh, there she is.
  • 9:42 PM Paul Wells – Julie Couillard is the unsegueable topic? They’re just not trying. Mr. Harper, you’ve handed Canada over to the oilmen and George Bush while your ministers were dallying with Julie Couillard. See? Easy.
  • 9:42 PM Martin Patriquin – “Minister*s*”? Do tell.
  • 9:43 PM Paul Wells – That thing around Elizabeth May’s neck is a blatant pander to the sea urchin demographic.
  • 9:43 PM Aaron Wherry – Did any of these guys go with the french cuffs? Or is that too elitist?
  • 9:43 PM Kady O’Malley – @Selley – I don’t know what you’re talking about. Stephane Dion is a Scotsman.
  • 9:44 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – see? Now you’ll buy the book! This *is* better than Amway, Paul.
  • 9:45 PM Philippe Gohier – If Duceppe’s point that the federal ministry of health doesn’t actually do anything doesn’t explain Tony Clement’s appointment, I don’t know what will.
  • 9:46 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – French media room is laughing uproariously, by the way; the English room is quiet as a tomb.
  • 9:47 PM Paul Wells – Tomorrow the media rooms will be reversed. It’ll be the English room that’s quiet as a tomb, and the FRENCH room that’ll be laughing uproariously.
  • 9:48 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Ahh, there we go. Someone *has* to figure out a way to bring up Couillard.
  • 9:49 PM Martin Patriquin – Duceppe just hit the wedge issue that aligns practically all Quebecers outside of Bagotville–getting out of Afghanistan.
  • 9:49 PM Andrew Potter – <why is harper whispering>
  • 9:49 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Wait, did we just go a really long time without hearing from Harper? He kind of vanished during the health care discussion.
  • 9:50 PM Chris Selley – Dion: We didn’t invade Afghanistan. Remarkable.
  • 9:51 PM Andrew Coyne – Should we negotiate with the Taliban? The questions are ALL framed from the left…
  • 9:51 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Duceppe looks perturbed for some reason.
  • 9:52 PM Martin Patriquin – @Kady: Hair dye in the eyes will do that.
  • 9:52 PM Aaron Wherry – Harper supports talking to the Taliban? Since when?
  • 9:52 PM Paul Wells – Incidentally, I just checked on NBC and the Biden-Palin French debate is EXCELLENT. You should hear the Scottish accent on Palin’s interpreter.
  • 9:52 PM Andrew Coyne – Since about this minute.
  • 9:53 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – He supports “debate without weapons”, apparently.
  • 9:53 PM Aaron Wherry – Does that make him a Taliban sympathizer like Dion?
  • 9:54 PM Chris Selley – Negotiating with Taliban – Afghanistan’s choice, full stop. Good answer from Duceppe. Harper might’ve done well with that as well.
  • 9:54 PM Philippe Gohier – Taliban Steve just doesn’t have the same ring to it as Taliban Jack.
  • 9:54 PM Andrew Coyne – So we’ve got one party that favours record levels of spending, pulling out of Afghanistan, pandering to Quebec nationalism, flirting with deficits, handouts to large corporations, etc.
  • 9:55 PM Andrew Coyne – And we ‘ve got FOUR parties to its left!!
  • 9:55 PM Philippe Gohier – One party? Which one isn’t? The Greens?
  • 9:57 PM Chris Selley – Doublespeak for YEARS on Afghanistan, Mr. Dion? How many years, exactly?
  • 9:57 PM Chris Selley – Greenhouse gases up under the Liberal government!This is unfair!
  • 9:58 PM Andrew Potter – Meanwhile, US Senate passed the bailout bill 74-25
  • 9:58 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Okay, wait – Where did that emissions reductions crack come from? And why is Duceppe defending the Liberals? I’m so confused.
  • 9:58 PM Martin Patriquin – Harper: “During his [Dion’s] leadership, Canada’s emissions have gone up…” Interesting, that. Wonder who was PM during that time?
  • 9:59 PM Philippe Gohier – Duceppe’s got a point: Either Harper’s got a beef with the Liberals for wanting to do *too much* on climate change, or Dion’s responsible because they *didn’t do enough*.
  • 10:00 PM Aaron Wherry – Harper ends with an allegation that the Liberals don’t support the troops. Awesome.
  • 10:00 PM Paul Wells – boy, that was quick. I thought this was one of the best televised leaders’ debates I’ve seen.
  • 10:00 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Aw, that’s it? That was actually so much more interesting than I expected.
  • 10:01 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Okay — I want winners! Winners! Losers!
  • 10:01 PM Andrew Coyne – We should do this every week. And I don’t ju
    st mean during an election campaign. Why not a leaders’ roundtable — every week, all year round?
  • 10:01 PM Chris Selley – This debate-skeptic is shocked to find himself thinking that was… actually worthwhile.
  • 10:01 PM Paul Wells – Telejournal sting: “This night on le Telejournal, Stephen Harper is attacked from every side by his rivals.” That’s PRECISELY the headline a prime minister wants to have coming out of a debate. Because it means nothing he did is the story, and people EXPECT the PM to be attacked from every side.
  • 10:02 PM Kady O’Malley – Or we could sit around and watch random television, and yammer at each other.
  • 10:02 PM Andrew Potter – Great format. Well moderated by M. Bureau. Unfortunately, I was so busy liveblogging I missed most of it. Wha’ happened?!
  • 10:03 PM Martin Patriquin – @ Paul: Exactly. It’s not the debate. It’s how the debate is framed.
  • 10:04 PM Kady O’Malley – Kady O’Malley – Okay, Colleague Wherry has vanished, as has his laptop, which means I can no longer follow the conversation. I’m going to sign off – but I’ll read all the afterchatter when I get home. Night, all.
  • 10:06 PM Andrew Potter – Ten bucks says Liz May brains Harper in the changeroom with that colossal brooch she had on her throat.
  • 10:12 PM Paul Wells – I thought Dion improved substantially in the second hour, and delivered a strong performance overall. I don’t think Harper put himself in any danger with this debate. Duceppe had a strong night. Elizabeth May wasn’t held back by her French as much as I’d have expected. Jack Layton would like to be prime minister, apparently.
  • 10:12 PM Chris Selley –
    I think Harper |could have dropped the beatific smile more often — he was at his best when he looked somewhat perturbed. But assuming his job was to weather the storm and look prime ministerial, he did fine. Dion had many strong moments, particularly on the environment and, to me, he came off as the most genuine challenger to Harper. Layton’s “only the NDP can do this” lines are just silly, I don’t care what his war room says, and they sound even sillier when it’s a bunch of human beings around a table rather than a rally. Duceppe is just terrific — shame about the team he plays for — though I thought Harper did well against him after he dragged the gun question into locking up every 14-year-old shoplifter in the land in “criminal university.” Did Elizabeth May accomplish anything beyond being there? I’ll leave that to the francophones to say. She certainly didn’t seem out of place, her halting French notwithstanding.
  • 10:13 PM Andrew Potter – Harper won — he gets to act the beleaguered leader. “It’s difficult when it’s four on one”… so sad.

    Layton did well. May did herself no favours. Duceppe

  • 10:22 PM Paul Wells – Okay. I’m outta here. See you guys tomorrow night, everyone. Bring chip dip!
  • 10:24 PM Philippe Gohier – That’s it for me, too. Good night, everyone.
  • 10:25 PM Andrew Potter – aight.
  • 10:35 PM Martin Patriquin – Hébert is right: An entire debate without the word ‘sovereignty’. Drink!

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