Friday, August 07, 2015

The First Debate: Hitting Harper Where It Hurts

I wish I could give last night's debate a more glowing review, but I just can't.

I didn't think the opposition leaders gave Stephen Harper a hard enough time on the things that matter to me, like Bill C-51 and the way that monster has raped our democracy and our values.

But most Canadians care more about the economy than they do about our freedoms.

And in that regard our three leaders did hit him where it hurts. 

Stephen Harper found himself playing defence Thursday as his rivals tried to pick apart his economic record during the election campaign's first leaders' debate. The Conservative leader's opponents attacked him for leading a government that ran eight straight budgetary deficits through one recession and an ongoing downturn that some believe is a second recession.

And this admission is worth its weight in gold.

At one point, even Harper himself appeared to agree that Canada was, perhaps, in a recession. The Tory leader managed to maintain his composure during the barrage, but NDP Leader Tom Mulcair did get the normally optimistic Harper to acknowledge that recent data showed the economy had taken a turn for the worse.

 The exchange began when Mulcair pressed Harper on the fact government statistics revealed that the economy contracted for five straight months, leaving it one month shy of a technical definition of a recession. "But according to a lot of observers, we're already in a recession," Mulcair said. Harper immediately cut in with a response: "Mr. Mulcair, I'm not denying that."

Because for weeks Harper and his hapless stooge Joe Oliver have been denying that Canada is in a recession...

And now they won't be able to do that anymore.

And as Tim Harper points out that's really bad news for Great Leader. 

Harper — the most experienced debater on the stage — was in the toughest spot, but the bad news for him was that he was weakest when pushed on the economy, another sign that a file which was once his strong suit is gradually eroding as a strong card for a government seeking another term.

And this was the best line of the night.

The Conservative leader tried to reassure Canadians that all was fine with the economy except for an energy sector being battered by matters out of Canadian control. He rattled off the requisite numbers but it got lost in the din, and Mulcair may have got off the line of the night when he said Harper was the only prime minister who, when asked about the recession, could answer, “which one?”

One that the Cons will be running from for the rest of the campaign...

But then this too is true:

Harper probably did not push back as hard as he could. But he didn’t exactly emerge battered and, given his vulnerabilities over almost a decade, there was a sense that given the three-to-one tilt on that stage, the Conservative leader was breathing fairly easy after this evening.

If we are going to destroy the Con regime and its depraved leader we are going to have to hit them harder than we did last night.

But don't worry we will. This is the Final Battle for Canada.

And failure is not an option...

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Marmalade said...

Being one voter, I know where my vote will be I did NOT watch the debate!

Anonymous said...

You know who won the debate? Paul Wells and MacLean's. You know who lost? The media consortium. And they lost big, because Paul Wells was not shy about asking downright embarassing questions which the media consortium has avoided like the plague.

I was right, naysayers were wrong. Breaking the consortium's stranglehold was GOOD for democracy in Canada. Stephen Harper really did us a favor by teling them to go pound sand.

I think there's room for improvement. The format was still a little disjointed, and I'm quite sure not everybody got equal time. I'm still not a fan of the free-form format, but Paul Wells' willingness to put forward the most contentious issues, hit all of the leaders where they were percieved as most sensitive is a huge plus.

Elizabeth May was mostly good, even managing to sound most factual. Is it that when you have basically nothing to lose that you bother with facts? I'd never vote for her because the Green policies are atrocious, but goodness, wouldn't we all benefit if our leadership took a page from her and elevated the discussion, instead of looking to browbeat their opponents? Unfortunately, we tend to respond to lowest common denominator forms of discourse, so that's unlikely. The Angelic Doctor strikes again!

I think Trudea managed a great counter-punch when he answered Mulcair with, "My number is nine! Nine supreme court justices." Not a fan of the SCC, but it was a great line, and it shut Mulcair right down. Unfortunately, the rest of his performance felt phoney. Especially his closing statement. It smacked of entittlement. If the debates have the power to sway, I suspect that hitting Mulcair like that will hand Harper the election.

Mulcair was a mixed bag, in that he did a good job hammering Stephen Harper, but did so in a condescending, patronizing manner. I think he managed to rattle Harper once or twice. I'm not sure he sounded like a prime minister, as a parent, selling child care spaces wasn't appealing to me at all. I think Mulcair's challenge going forward is connection.

And Harper... Oh Harper. Block of wood impression. Boring, stuffy, dull. Same poop different day. Did anybody get the final tally on the clarity count? What I mean by that is, how many times did Harper use the line, "Let me be clear." Or "Let's clear the air." Or words to that effect. I lost count, sorry, it was practically every time he got the opportunity to speak. If all that Harper had to do to win was sound vaguely prime ministerial, and not lose his composure, then he accomplished that, though I think you could see cracks at times. He convincingly managed to return to form, and I don't think it hurt him too badly. Still... Is there an actual personality under there? I think if you could summarize Harper's debating style, it'd be, "Winning by default is still winning!" and it's increddibly lame.

Elizabeth May was much stronger overall, except for a few of her ridicuous propositions.

Kudos to Paul Wells and MacLeans. Kudos to Stephen Harper for breaking the consortium's idiotic attempts at relevancy, and shifting to something much more open.

rumleyfips said...

So , this farmer's chickens keep disappearing night after night. The fox goes to the farmer and says " I have a plan " buy more chickens and let me live in the henhouse. "Why would I do that ?" says the farmer, " you already killed all my chickens ". The fox replied, " I said the plan is working - for me ."

Noah said...

This is why I don't watch debates, the opposition never hits where it hurts the most, and they all give Harper a very free pass. C51? Voter suppression tactics? Corruption? Terrible judgement? Orwellian revision of laws? Fear mongering of a grotesque order? Muzzling of scientists and destruction of environmental science records? The destruction of our environment? Energy policy criticisms?

It's all such an empty display that quite honestly makes all the leaders look like they have more in common than not. No wonder people are disengaged. Bet more Canadians watched the Republican debate than the Canadian one, at least that had Trump for entertainment value.

Anonymous said...

In addition to making Harper look good, Trudeau derailed what was supposed to have been a discussion on an important issue: democratic reform. He did that by going off topic and attacking Mulcair on the Clarity issue and allowing Harper to point out that those two imbeciles were bickering on a non issue. Sad. It was May who finally did the job of the moderator and brought the discussion back on track to democratic reform.

Some might have thought that Trudeau gave a smart answer when he said "nine" finally (for the number of SCC judges) after being pressed by Mulcair repeatedly what percentage of yes votes he would accept. However, I thought Trudeau actually made himself look very foolish by attacking Mulcair and then showing himself unable/unwilling to come up with a number when Mulcair threw the question back at him.

As they say, a smart lawyer would never ask a question that he/she does not already know the answer to. You'd think that Trudeau, though not a lawyer, would have an answer for that instead of giving what I thought was a facetious answer of "nine". And I was not the only one as Nerenberg at Rabble had also pointed this out:

Most disappointingly, it showed how Trudeau and the Liberals, hungry for votes, could actually help Harper by deflecting what would otherwise have been an opportunity for the opposition to point out the importance of democratic reform, giving examples of what Harper had done to abuse it. It ended with Mulcair committing to proportional representation and May making an important point for limiting the power of the PM. But from Trudeau, who had lately come up with his commitment to his transferable vote form of proportional representation, there was nary a word. Thus opportunity lost for those of us who had hoped that this election would put an end to any government getting absolute power with just 39% of the popular vote. That was what Trudeau appeared to have derailed.

And the above is why I think Mulcair would be justified in refusing to attend any more debates unless Harper is there. I had initially hoped that we could have debates among the opposition leaders even if Harper is absent but it appears that Trudeau could, intentionally or otherwise, trigger attacks on the NDP that could lead to Harper winning again by being absent from those debates (e.g., consortium debates).

However, I suspect last night's debate would have minimal impact as not too many people watched other than those of us who follow politics closely. And the latter have already made up their minds who they will vote for, as the commenter above aptly demonstrated when he/she praised May for her elevating the debate, and suggested that she had put in the best performance, that we needed more of this. Then in almost the same breath, he/she said he/she would never vote for the Green party.

BTW, Simon, aren't you on vacation?

Anonymous said...

Video: Maclean’s National Leaders Debate (Aug. 6)

Anonymous said...

The debate: Too much caution, not enough fight

Transcript of Maclean’s Debate

Video: Maclean’s National Leaders Debate (Aug. 6)

Anonymous said...