Canada federal election 2015 – the Maclean’s debate

Written by  //  August 7, 2015  //  Canada  //  No comments

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The consensus in the media (not including Ezra Levant) appears to be that Justin Trudeau turned in a largely competent performance – better than expected by most; Tom Mulcair was more restrained -especially in the first part of the evening- than we are used to seeing; Stephen Harper was competent, but not inspiring to anyone not of the committed base; and Elizabeth May was far and away the sharpest and best speaker. We wish we had heard more from her. Most of his colleagues have praised Paul Wells as the moderator. We found him a poor choice – as a debate moderator he makes an excellent writer.

7 times Stephen Harper misled Canadians during the debate
(Press Progress) If you thought there was a lot of truthiness flying around at the first debate of the election, you are not alone.
Here are seven of the biggest factual errors made by Stephen Harper at Thursday’s debate:
Canada election 2015: Harper defends record on economy, security
This could be only English-language debate to feature all 4 leaders
(CBC) Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, seeking another term in office, found himself fending off challenges to the government’s performance on security, the economy and environment in the first federal leaders’ debate of the campaign on Thursday.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, in the first question of the night from the moderator, Maclean’s political editor Paul Wells, was quick to contend Canada is in a recession, deeming it to be a risk to continue with Harper’s “failed plan.”

The National for August 06, 2015very good overview from senior CBC political correspondents and as usual, At Isssue provided both insight and entertainment (not always at the same time)

10 Best Quotes From The Maclean’s Leaders Debate
(HuffPost) There weren’t any knockout blows at Thursday night’s Maclean’s leaders debate but that didn’t mean that the four party leaders didn’t hand out plenty of soundbites. Harper took a lot of heat on the economy. Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau duelled on Quebec separatism and Elizabeth May had a well-placed attack about the Senate.
E May quote on Senate Aug 6 debate
Federal Leaders Debate: Elizabeth May Proves She Deserves A Spot In Each Debate
(HuffPost) Less than halfway through the first debate in Canada’s federal election, Elizabeth May was stealing the spotlight. … During the segment on energy and the environment, May demanded the NDP leader clarify his position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline. …
“I want to say it that it will be shame if we don’t have more debates because as comprehensive as the questions were we have not discussed social policy we have not discussed how we respond to the Truth & Reconciliation commission, we have not discussed how we must expand our medicare system to include pharmacare,” May said in her closing remarks.
“The 86 wealthiest families in this country have the same combined wealth as the 11.4 million Canadians at the bottom, one third of Canadians have the combined wealth of the top 86 family, we have to address this.”
If the reactions to May’s performance on Thursday night are any indication however, we’re all better off with her at every debate.

The debate by the numbers: who said the most words, who used his own name and what leader loves to be clear?

Some reviews
Tasha Kheiriddin — The debate: Do we call that a draw?
(iPolitics) … surprise surprise, the debate delivered a fast-paced, substantive exchange of views between the four party leaders who participated: Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair, Justin Trudeau and Elizabeth May. It covered a wide range of subjects: the economy, energy and the environment, the state of democracy, and foreign policy and security. In doing so, it revealed the strengths and weaknesses of each leader, and the challenges that lie ahead for each of them in the 73 days remaining of this campaign. … In sum, nobody scored a knockout, nobody failed miserably and the campaign will keep chugging along as before. Or not — as it just might be that this debate injected a big enough dose of gravitas to start focusing on serious issues. In that respect, the winner was… the voter.
“Trudeau lands best punches against solid foes” – Vancouver Sun, August 6, 2015
Justin Trudeau: A pugilist comes to fight
(Charlie Gillis, Maclean’s) Kory Teneycke, the Conservative campaign spokesman, boasted before the Maclean’s debate that the Liberal leader would exceed expectations “if he comes on stage with his pants on,” neatly summing up how deeply the Tories have distorted public perceptions of Trudeau with their ads. The trouble with that strategy is the damage to the messenger’s credibility when the story proves wrong, and Trudeau simply refused to play to type. Through all but a couple of exchanges, he maintained his poise, and though his handle on policy wasn’t as steady as Harper’s or Mulcair’s, it wasn’t glaringly weak. For two solid hours, he went toe-to-toe with three seasoned leaders. At no point did he seem out of place. … Trudeau then deftly turned a segment on international security and terrorism into a righteous oration on the Harper government’s “nickel-and-diming” of veterans, adding: “This government, which likes to wrap itself in the flag is actually not caring for those people who have fought, injured themselves and in many cases died.”
Désormais, ce sera « Monsieur »
(Journal de Montréal) Justin Trudeau est le gagnant pour une raison bien simple. Il a mérité sa place. Lui, chef d’un parti qui a perdu des plumes depuis un an, se retrouve maintenant, hors de tout doute, parmi les candidats sérieux au poste de premier ministre. Ceux qui croyaient qu’il n’était que le fils de son père, qu’il n’avait pas de contenu, qu’il se résumait à une image sont forcés de reconsidérer leur impression. Justin Trudeau a montré une solide connaissance de ses dossiers. Il a manié les chiffres avec aisance. Il a distribué les coups avec aplomb. Bref, il a dissipé les doutes et affiché une belle assurance. … Élizabeth May vient au deuxième rang. C’est une femme étonnante. Elle est à l’aise dans tous les dossiers, de l’économie à la sécurité. Elle a tourné en bourrique Stephen Harper qui prétendait avoir réduit les gaz à effet de serre en disant : « La seule chose qui a entraîné une réduction des GES sous votre gouverne, c’est le ralentissement économique. » Elle ne sera pas première ministre, elle ne fera élire que peu de députés, mais elle ira chercher un nombre croissant d’appuis chez ceux qui ne seront séduits par aucun des trois grands partis. J’ai hâte de voir si sa maîtrise du français s’est améliorée.
Mulcair Appears Hesitant In Leaders’ Debate, But Keeps ‘Angry Tom’ At Bay
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) The often passionate orator kept “Angry Tom” at bay, but in so doing kept a near-constant smile on his face, even while making dire predictions — a look some viewers on social media described as “creepy.”
Mulcair wore a grin while saying Harper’s energy policies are “hurting Canada’s international reputation” and while discussing the growth of Canada’s debt under Harper’s leadership.But when he spoke up, Mulcair made relatively succinct points, talked about concrete policies and hammered the prime minister on the economy while getting in a few jabs. Harper is the first prime minister who can say “which one?” when asked about a recession under his watch, Mulcair said. Trudeau Says Harper ‘Disconnected,’ Mulcair Offers ‘False Hope’ At Maclean’s Debate – (CP via HuffPost)
Trudeau comes out swinging… – Reuters – This is a partial headline. The full one reads: “Trudeau comes out swinging, but no clear Canada debate winner” and goes on to say: “Ipsos pollster Darrell Bricker said Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, had fallen short of making a major breakthrough. “Trudeau really had to break out. (I) didn’t see it. He fought hard though,” he said.”
« Trudeau a connu un débat dynamique
(Alec Castonguay, L’actualité)) il faut noter que ce premier débat télévisé de la campagne électorale n’avait rien d’habituel.  S’attendre à des retombées typiques d’un débat des chefs serait erroné. »
voir aussi La question de l’isoloir : quatre ans de plus avec Harper ?
It was Cautious Tom and Fighting Justin.
(Campbell Clark, Globe & Mail) The NDP Leader sought to look less pugnacious and more prime ministerial. Cautious Tom means Calm Tom, and that is what the NDP wanted, but he risked looking like he had settled into front-runner’s caution too quickly. The Liberal Leader sometimes tried too hard, but he mixed it up.
Mr. Trudeau turned answers into attacks. He spoke over Mr. Harper to taunt “nobody believes you on the environment.” When Green Party Leader Elizabeth May asked Mr. Harper why he has not addressed internal trade barriers, Mr. Trudeau jumped in to say Mr. Harper could not because he will not meet with provincial premiers.
… for the Conservative leader, it was largely a defensive mission accomplished. The surprise was that the debate on the economy set him off balance, when all three opponents accused him of denying a recession and racking up deficits. He looked annoyed, and struggled to keep up the smile. But he settled, and looked more comfortable as the debate moved on.
L. Ian MacDonald: Our debate, their debate — and the God-awfulness that is Trump A surprisingly even-handed and complimentary column
(iPolitics) While the Canadian debate was refreshingly free of gimmicks such as video questions from voters and social media, the U.S. debate featured voter participation on Facebook.
While the four Canadian leaders all had ample opportunities to differentiate themselves from their opponents, there were simply too many people on the American stage for anything more than soundbites. (And that was only the top 10 candidates in the polls; the other presidential aspirants took part in what amounted to a pre-game show).
In all, it was the best Canadian election debate in a very long time, very much to the credit of Maclean’s and the four leaders. Kudos to them all.
Michael Den Tandt: Justin Trudeau ekes out win in leaders’ debate with no knockout punches, little high drama
Green party Leader Elizabeth May came to display one of the few cards she holds in a polity dominated by much larger, better funded opponents – her personal charisma and likability – and parlay that into a bigger share of the popular vote and thus, greater influence. She did that in spades. May delivered an outstanding performance. She also wound up, time and time again, helping Trudeau, indirectly, by double-teaming Harper on answers, particularly with respect to the environment.
In short, they all did well, as did moderator Wells. But because of the curious reverse psychology of such encounters, Trudeau – who was the perceived underdog going in – consistently seemed to get the better of the one-on-one exchanges, particularly with respect to Senate reform and pipelines.
Premier débat des chefs: Mulcair gagne, Trudeau surprend
(Gilbert Lavoie, Le Soleil) Je ne sais pas si vous avez suivi le débat des chefs hier soir, mais je lève mon chapeau à l’équipe du magazine Maclean’s qui a organisé l’événement : on n’avait jamais rien vu de tel dans l’histoire politique canadienne. Le débat a été enlevant, entrecoupé de plusieurs pauses au cours desquelles on a présenté la réaction du public aux sujets discutés et l’opinion d’experts sur la performance des chefs.
Ce débat a été essoufflant tellement tout était mené rondement à la fois par le modérateur, Paul Wells, et par toute l’équipe derrière lui, chargée de mener des sondages et d’interroger les analystes.
Qui a gagné? Justin Trudeau m’a surpris avec son assurance et ses interventions solides pendant la première section sur l’économie. …
Même si Mulcair et Trudeau se sont donné des coups, c’est Stephen Harper qui a été la principale cible de toutes les attaques. Après une décennie de pouvoir, le premier ministre connaît ses dossiers, mais il est hypothéqué par le poids des erreurs, des contradictions et des problèmes de son gouvernement. Sans grande surprise, il avait des réponses à toutes les critiques, mais l’unanimité de ses trois adversaires a pesé lourd et lui a rendu la vie très difficile. On comprend pourquoi les conservateurs voulaient d’un premier débat très tôt. C’est afin de lui donner le temps de s’en remettre et d’ajuster le tir au besoin.
Debate takeaway: Plenty of fodder for campaign trail attacks
(Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics) Prime Minister Stephen Harper emerged bruised but intact from a pummeling by his opponents during the first leaders’ debate, however, and he will likely face another round of attacks on the campaign trail after he admitted that Canada is headed into a recession.
Harper’s admission, in response to a statement by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, contradicts the assurances of his own finance minister, Joe Oliver, who has steadfastly insisted that Canada will avoid being drawn into a recession.
However, he won’t be the only one facing questions after Thursday night’s debate, as Canada’s political leaders return to the campaign trail.
Whether it was Mulcair refusing to say whether he supports or opposes the Kinder Morgan pipeline or Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau refusing to say what percentage vote he would recognize should Quebecers vote to separate, each of the leaders bobbed and weaved on certain questions as they attempted to land blows on their opponents.
Trudeau, who warmed up in the morning with a round of boxing, did the most sparring throughout the debate – repeatedly challenging both Harper and Mulcair and keeping pace with them on key files. It was Trudeau who appeared to be on the defensive, however, during the segment on national security when he was asked about his decision to have the Liberal Party support the government’s controversial anti-terrorism bill.
The debate: Too much caution, not enough fight
(Michael Harris, iPolitics) [Justin Trudeau] was articulate, substantive and just feisty enough to get in Stephen Harper’s face on the economy. …
Harper didn’t do much last night. In fact, on his big issue — the economy — he tanked. After all, it’s pretty hard to make your rallying cry “stay on course” when that course has brought us to a recession, oil prices more deflated than Tom Brady’s footballs, and stagnant wages.
And if he tanked on the economy, Harper belly-flopped on the environment. He was the only leader whose love affair with big oil continued to totally blind him to the crisis in the environment. While his opponents talked about the environment and the economy going together into the 21st century, Harper seemed locked back in 20th-century thinking, which includes the notion that carbon taxes are always, everywhere a bad idea. In a nutshell, Harper just doesn’t give a hoot about carbon emissions. …But here’s the thing. Harper’s people thought he won last night’s debate because they know a thing or two about boxing metaphors and politics. They know that if the contender is going to beat the Champ, he usually has to knock him out. If it comes down to scoring the fight on the judge’s cards, the decision usually goes the Champ’s way.

“…Trudeau handled himself well.” – Dan Leger, The Chronicle Herald, August 7, 2015
“I would be really surprised if this debate did not help the Liberals and Justin Trudeau.” – Chantal Hebert, CBC’s The National
“[Trudeau] surprised the most, coming across as scrappy, eloquent and well-briefed.” – Murray Brewster, Canadian Press
“It changes the perception created by two years of Conservative advertising that Trudeau is not ready for prime time. Because this was prime time and Trudeau was clearly ready.” – Craig Oliver, CP24, August 7, 2015

One Wednesday Nighter, an ardent NDP supporter, posted:
An absolutely PATHETIC debate. Imagine how, during a review of Canada and its democratic deficit, NO mention whatsoever was made by the Libs, NDP or Greens to robocalls, omnibus legislation, prorogation, Dean Del Maestro, the muzzling of civil servants, or any other of the hundreds of ethical and criminal transgressions this government has made in the last ten years. And never mind that all of this was done by a government which only commands the support of less than 25% of Canadians eligible to vote. This was the chance for reasonable, respectful parties to work as a team and put an important nail in Harper’s coffin and they TOTALLY BLEW IT. Trudeau and Mulcair especially need their goddamn heads examined. They should be forced to eat Spam poutine three times a day for a month for dusting the cobwebs off the Clarity Act at a time when our country is in such serious democratic peril.

Harper’s Team Declares Harper Debate Winner With Brutal Typo
After the federal leaders wrapped up their first debate together on Thursday evening, the Conservatives sent out a brutal tweet proclaiming Stephen Harper’s win. But somebody in the party’s war room forgot to proofread a key word: minister.
Prime Minster

 

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