08.07.2015 07:26 AM

KCCCC Day 6: the big debate



    • First things first: you and I are weird.  We like politics.  We pay attention to politics. Normal people don’t.  And studies have been showing that debate audiences have been declining for decades.
    • Most people watch clips on TV, Facebook and Twitter, and think that is enough.  Based on last night’s show, they’re probably not wrong.
    • Three key things to remember before I provide you with my own tweeted clips.  
    • One, if very few people watched the debate, it will probably have very little long-term effect on attitudes.
    • Two, it came so early in the 2015 Long March Campaign that no one will remember it at the end.  (That’s a shame, given that it’s possibly the last time all four leaders are together.)
    • Three, it wasn’t very exciting.  It was pretty dull, in fact.
    • That all said, here’s my take on each leader, along with tweets about the proceedings.

Stephen Harper: When three professional politicians are attacking you for a couple hours, the best you can hope for is to keep the puck out of the net.  Harper did that.  He missed several opportunities to clobber the others, true, but he was effective hammering Trudeau on his position on terror, and bashing both Trudeau and Mulcair on their collective desire to talk about the Constitution.

Tom Mulcair: He wasn’t Angry Tom – he was Medicated Tom.  He. Talked. Like. This.  As such, you got the impression he was condescending (he was) and arrogant (he is).  His equivocation on ISIS/terror was sickening; his qualifications on unity were pretty despicable.  He was braggy about shutting down Parliament, rewriting Charters, and his eyes were scary-ola.  If there was a loser last night, it’s him.

Justin Trudeau: He was a drama teacher, once, and it sure showed.  He stuck to his lines, and he had clearly had been preparing for months.  There were slips, however, such as when he bizarrely referred to himself as “Mr. Trudeau,” or when he said “the Liberal Party has been very clear” on ISIS and terror. (Um, not quite.) His startling statement that the Liberal Party was “naive,” quote unquote, on foreign policy will be replayed in CPC and NDP attack ads from now until the end of time.

Elizabeth May: She was winning.  She was winning, big time, in fact.  For most of the debate, she was the most effective – seemed to know her facts, had the right tone, sounded the least doctrinaire.  She lost the pole position at the end, however, when she rhapsodized about Mu’ammar Qaddafi, and she suggested that ignoring ISIS will make them just go away.  In those segments, she was dishonest and reckless and had a truther-like weirdness.  A disappointment, because she’d been winning.

Sample tweets about each, gratis:







  1. Don Wilson says:

    During the environment segment, Harper told a few whoppers for which the other 3 hammered him. Harper lost this segment, while May won it hands down. Mulcair & Trudeau held their own and did not appear foolish.

    Overall, May did the best, apart from the lapses you noted. Good summary. No knock downs, but a few breakaways that could have resulted in game-winning goals. We need an upgrade for Paul Wells.

  2. Jon Powers says:

    I’m flabbergasted that the issue of the impeding zombie apocalypse was not raised by any of the candidates. I think Tom Mulcair may already have turned.

    • Warren says:


    • eric weiss says:

      Never rely on governments during a zombie apocalypse. They will be overwhelmed as the world turns into a Walking Dead/Mad Max like hellscape. I’ve been stockpiling beans, crossbows and old hockey gear for years. They call me mad. I’ll show them….I’LL SHOW THEM ALL!!!

    • bobbie says:

      Best comment on Mulcair IMO. Zombie NDP…works for me.

    • Harvey Bushell says:

      I think Mulcair is still in a transformational state.. not quite human and not quite zombie. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he did go full zombie during the debate though.

      I predict that Harper would have found the nearest closet to hide in, Trudeau would have gone back to his dressing room to put on his shorts and boxing gloves while May would have quickly gone into action grabbing the nearest clip board and use it to slice off is head and then lecturing him on leaving a toxic mess on the stage.

  3. Trudeau’s “9” statement is getting a hell of a lot of airplay on TV and Radio.

    • Mark says:

      It was a clever, well-rehersed, and well-delivered response. I think the Liberal team knew it was likely that question would come up and were prepared for it. It helped a lot that Mulcair simply fell silent after that line, rather than pushing Trudeau for an actual answer. Wells did follow up with Trudeau for an actual number, and Trudeau stuck with regurgitating his Supreme Court line, which weakened the zing of the initial comeback. But that doesn’t really matter, it’s the initial clip that will get airtime and the most ears and eyeballs.

      • doconnor says:

        I thought it was a silly and evasive (as Liberals always are on the Clarity Act) answer that he probably made up on the spot. It’s the first time the point that the Clarity Act clears nothing up and is virtually meaningless has been made to Canadians.

      • MC says:

        Well rehearsed is the proper description. And it is getting over-played. It was smart, but not really, really smart. It was the best smarty-pants answers to a snarky, useless question. Neither the answer nor the question deserve the attention that they are getting, and should the fact that the conversation happened at all should be seen as a wildly waving red flag about both parties and their leaders.

    • Mark says:

      I should add, it was with particular finesse that Justin did not shoot back the “Number 9” line right away. He let Mulcair start with the badgering interruptions first, about not answering the question, before slamming the door on him.

      • Jason says:

        I agree Mark – I wonder if it was planned for him to wait as Mulcair got more angry/condescending – his condescending “whats the number, Justin” was a big put off.

    • MississaugaPeter says:

      Yup, line will sell very well in most of Quebec. NOT.

      Not much of a fan of 9 unelected appointments making decisions, of which 5 could side one way, 4 the other, but it is what it is, all over the world, and without some form of participatory democracy, I can’t provide an alternative.

      Sorry, Harper had the better response, asking why are you even talking about this? Just as ridiculous as him worrying about a Netflix tax.

    • ralphonso says:

      The three people I was watching with felt the opposite.

      If Québec votes 50%+1 for separation, those nine judges will become inconsequential pretty fast.

      If Trudeau wants to be prime minister, he needs a response to “what is your number” that isn’t a punt to the judiciary.

      • P. Brenn says:

        most Canadians have moved on from seperation thank God. really needed to know 8 times that the professional politician Mulcair was Ministry of the Envirnment ..

  4. Alex says:

    After having some time to think about it I think Mulcair really blew it last night. While you are right Warren that this debate likely won’t have a huge impact on the election, the NDP leader failed to take charge in the “Not Harper” battle. Having two credible centre-left alternatives helps Harper, particularly in Ontario. Having the Greens put in a strong performance muddies the anti-Harper waters even more, especially in British Columbia.

    Overall May was strong, Trudeau kept himself in the game, Mulcair was mediocre, and Harper was adequate. This helps Harper because: a) he kept his support; and b) his opponents continue to split the anti-Harper vote in ways that make it easier for the Cons to win. Given that the NDP is likely to win in my riding I will probably vote for the Dippers on October 19. That being said, I have been really unimpressed by the NDP campaign so far.

    • Mark says:

      Alex, I was about to agree with your similar comment in the previous thread. Mulcair did not stand out in the debates the way the NDP has been standing out in the polls, and that might certainly put into question who is the proper standard bearer of the ABC vote. This is particularly dangerous for the NDP in many Toronto ridings that historically really prefer the Liberals. May’s (perhaps unexpected) strong performance also increases the risk of 3-way splits of the left vote in certain ridings.

  5. MF says:

    I thought that using the Senate to kill an environmental bill was a severe body blow for Harper.

  6. Kevin T. says:

    He Karate Kid kicked that referendum question right in the face. The NDP was bragging about that question, they didn’t think it possible he could answer it without losing. He did.

    The whole Trudeau being a lightweight is only valid if true, and the parties seemed to have prepared for only THAT guy, not the one who could quite possibly take the punches at first, then jab and punch back effectively.

  7. gyor says:

    Mulcair won, easily, he was comfortible, he destroyed Harper on the economy, especially with his resession quip.

    Trudeau’s none answer on the the number was an unethical evasion, and it will burn him in Quebec.

    • George says:

      As a non-partisan commentator here, I have one thing to say about Gyor.

      He obviously drank a lot of Tang, Sunny D or orange Kool-Aid last night. Must have affected his judgement, I’m not sure we were watching the same debate.

      May was most impressive (minus a couple of really dumb comments).
      Trudeau exceeded (admittedly very low) expectations.
      Harper held his own but in my humble opinion demonstrated why he needs to go – no vision, no passion and the lies he was spewing were an affront to intelligent people everywhere.
      Mulcair looked uncomfortable, insincere and radiated hubris.

      If an election was held today and we could only vote for a leader based on last night’s performance, I would go with May. JT looks like he just showed up for his first job interview after graduation, and Mulcair reeks of insincerity. Harper is well past his best-before date.

      That said, I expect a Con minority.

  8. cgh says:

    Wasted about five minutes of my life on this. Boring, boring, boring. Watching Carly Fiorina take apart Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton on MSNBC was worlds better than this snoozefest. Went back to something much more important, watching the Jays for the first time in more than two years sweep the Twins in a four-game series.

  9. davie says:

    I enjoyed the between periods analysis by Kelly Rudy and Elliott Friedman and the girls. That helped me know that Harper kept the puck out of the net long before I read it here.

    • davie says:

      Before the next debate opposition people might have a look at the two articles over on Tyee listing this government’s abuses of power. Be sure to read the comments with the added sins. Conservatives might look at the articles, too, so that they know what they can expect.
      The Conservatives are holding up their record as a reason to re elect them, so give us a complete picture.

      Last provincial election here in BC, opposition forgot the list on the BC Libs, and it showed on election night.

  10. Lyndon Dunkley says:

    As part of the political junkie class, I get excited pre-debate. Inevitably, usually a quarter of the way through, my excitement gets replaced with a sense of “is this the best three potential leaders our country has to offer?” Harper had too much of a Prentice vibe, Justin (Mulclair’s term, not mine) still lacks any prime ministerial gravitas, and Mulclair reminds me of the Joker line about the dog that chases the car but has no idea what to do if he actually catches it.

    As a small c conservative, i would like to have seen Harper defend his recent economic record a little stronger, perhaps with an “its the oil price, stupid” but perhaps that wouldn’t have played as well with the general electorate as it would have me. Another 12 months of sub $50 oil and sub $3 gas and Alberta will be a ghost town – will that make Notley the worst premier ever?

    My final “cranky old man/didn’t like the results” comment is regarding the facebook polls throughout the show. Isn’t there some responsibility to provide the number of respondents? At one point I think I saw them show TM at 50%, JT at 25% , SH at 15% and EM at 10%. Was that based on 20 respondents, a 100, a 1000? I haven’t seen any polls close to those numbers so to present those results as credible without context seemed irresponsible at best.

    • Luke says:

      All that commentary on the Facebook crap was even harder to watch than the debates. Those polls are no better than Warren’s joke polls. They are just for entertainment purposes, except that they aren’t particularly entertaining. They’re dumb and pointless, and MacLean’s should probably be a bit embarrassed that they bothered to give them any time, attention, or consideration.

  11. Ted Whipp says:

    They sounded like they were talking to themselves and their campaign staffs and bases and policy wonks. Not to Canadians.

  12. Bruce says:

    I agree that May did really well, and I liked her for much of the debate. But man, I really cringed when she said that the Senate wasn’t a priority for her because it’s ‘hard’. Come on. If any other leader had said that, his campaign would have been OVER.

    It was a Kim Campbell let’s-not-talk-about-issues moment for me.

    She can get away with saying stuff like that because she’s not going to be Prime Minister. As such, her presence – mercifully – made the debate much more interesting, albeit cringe-inducing (as with ISIS).

  13. eric weiss says:

    I lasted about 20 minutes, then I went for a walk on the beach while I can still enjoy it. Winter is coming.

  14. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    What happens when a company beats its earnings estimate? Et voilà. Trudeau wins.

  15. Luke says:

    1. Elizabeth May.
    2 Justin Trudeau.
    3. Stephen Harper.
    4. Tom Mulcair.

    Oh my lord, Tom Mulcair was positively CREEPY. And completely unimpressive. And smug. Awful.

    • bobbie says:

      1. Harper
      2. May
      3. Trudeau
      4. Mulcair

      • Marc-André Chiasson says:

        1. Trudeau
        2. Trump
        3. May
        4. Harper
        5. Mulcair

      • ralphonso says:

        ^^ This. People let their dislike cloud their judgment of Harper all the time. He did well. That being said, I think all four were pretty close. No big winners or big losers.

      • Luke says:

        I dispute Harper being in front. Not because he was terrible — he looked and sounded much better than last time — but because he makes up stuff and proclaims it to be factual (i.e., is a liar). I did very much enjoy his performance on the topic of separation and constitutional issues; it was sensible, practical, relatable, and right.

    • eric weiss says:

      Agreement on the creepy part. Every time he tried to smile, it looked like he was in pain.

    • Mark says:

      Everyone is agreeing on last place!

  16. Kelly says:

    The debate was amateurish. The set was awful. The studio tiny and unbecoming of a national leader’s debate and the moderator awkward, stiff and uncomfortable. The whole thing was nothing but an infomercial for Macleans. I would guess of the couple hundred thousand people (max) who tuned in, 90% of them turned it off after 15 minutes.

    Trudeau was animated but seems like he was playing a stage role. Mulcair looked like he was trying too hard not to be himself. I don’t think he came across as arrogant, at all, just insincere. Harper didn’t look like a Prime Minister at all. He came across as a 3rd year political science major. There was no gravitas. In that regard Mulcair did better, at times. Mulcair though slow at the start, seemed controlled but you could tell he was trying to come across as primeministerial rather than just be himself.

    Elizabeth may won insofar as coming across as genuine, comfortable and knowledgeable. Her policy suggestions were the most rational (as is the Green party platform, overall). I don’t see where she fell down on ISIS at all. She is exactly right. We lost the war in Libya. The country is now a failed state with two illegitimate governments in control of different halves of the country and ISIS has moved into that vacuum. Western meddling in the Middle east is the direct cause of most of the conflict there. Her comments might sound bizarre to some people but only because we get so much propaganda and lying from the military and most news outlets.

  17. billg says:

    Ratings after last nights debate:
    Who would you like to sit beside at a party, Trudeau and May.
    Who would I want to execute my last will and testament, Harper.
    Who would I never give the security code to my gun locker, Mulcair.
    And, who would I love to accidentally high stick while fighting for a loose puck, Wells.
    And, if Carly Fiorina isn’t with the grown ups in the next GOP debate then that thing is rigged.

  18. BlueGritr says:

    1. Harper: didn’t take one to the chops.
    2. Justin: some good moments. Still needs some refinement, but definitely on his way.
    3. Lizzy May: surprisingly strong on all the files.
    4. Mulcair: expected more from the man. More he’s seen, the more he’s going to lose votes. Will have his hands full with Gilles D. in Quebec.

  19. The Doctor says:

    Warren, there’s a very good reason why Elizabeth May has a “truther-like weirdness”:


  20. Ridiculosity says:

    The best line of the night – without question?

    When HARPER, in a bit of a fluster, ADMITTED CANADA IS IN A RECESSION.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:


      Yeah, wow, two damaging frank admissions in one night. Harper is rarely off his game but he sure was yesterday. Perhaps his gut is not sending him the same message that his head is.

      Not encouraging news for the CPC campaign. Right, Jenni?

  21. nic coivert says:

    My take away from the debate, which I mostly watched, was that Mulcair disappointed, Harper was the same as usual– he quite simply lies, Trudeau looked good at moments and so so at others, May can say whatever the hell she wants she’s not going to win anyway.

    • Domenico says:

      Nic that is a spot on analysis.

      Trudeau was good at times, at other times not so much.
      Harper took a few hits to the gut and starting burping up bullshit.
      Mulcair looked vaguely lobotomized.
      May can say……

  22. Jon Evan says:

    Harper: Clearly depressed! Why not? R word, ~0% interest rates: makes seniors like my ma poor, but it is seniors who vote. Yikes!! TSX down: middle class mad. Climate change: Alberta, Sask., BC on fire!
    Mulcair: Those EYES scared my cat! Creepy fake smile. Such a superior attitude.
    Justin: Up for Oscar nomination! Should have stayed in drama.
    May: Annoying. Who can see her as PM?
    Disclaimer: I’m a C-conservative or have been….. now what?

  23. Matt from Ottawa says:

    Overall the debate went as expected. I think everyone was expecting alot (much like the Layton/ Iggy moment). Fact of the matter thats like expecting every World Series to end in a Joe Carter moment.

    Alot has been said about Harper being not cut throat enough or subdued, amongst other things. IMHO, I think the tactic by Harper and Mulcair was to save the ammunition for later. Noone outside those who are politically inclined cared or watched the debate for what its worth. I think the later debates are going to be more interesting. If anything for Harper and Mulcair, their plan would be to a) remain subdued, yet put in just enough effort to come off ok and b) I think everyone underestimated JT, but I think Harper and Mulcair want him to be strong, build his confidence, and then when it counts, allow him to get to cocky and go off script. As for May, I think she did quite well. Thats until the end when she came off a little too truther for my liking.

  24. Al in Cranbrook says:

    So, after all the leaders laid out their positions, I have to ask…

    On the economy, your leader, _________ , would do what differently in light of this set back caused by Saudi’s flooding the market with oil? ( http://www.forbes.com/sites/timtreadgold/2015/08/06/saudi-arabia-might-just-have-blinked-in-the-oil-war/ )

    On pipelines, your leader, _________ , would do what differently that would get any one of them built right away? Assuming any of them want any kind of pipeline anywhere, any time? (We know that Trudeau thinks a carbon tax would show Obama that we’re serious on climate change, and thus sign off on it…forget that hell will freeze over before Americans ever accept such a tax.)

    No need to bother with ISIS, etc. We know for sure now the three opposition leaders would do pretty much nothing.

    And no need to get into climate change, the three opposition leaders want to tax everything to show that, a) we reeealy mean it, and b) even though it will accomplish absolutely SFA to do with global climate, it’s the right thing to do. Not to mention that it certainly will dump a helluva load of cash into government coffers right away, eh? Yeehaw!

    Qualifier: Talking nicer to everyone isn’t an answer, in the same manner as sufficiently kissing everyone’s arse also is not an answer.

    • doconnor says:

      The leader should have done more to help the manufacturing sector by preventing the dollar from going so high. Manufacturing provides better quality jobs, has less of an environmental impact and is less subject to extreme price swings.

      As pointed out by May, the pipelines will only allow tar sands processing and the jobs that go with it to occur outside Canada.

      I called for intervention in Syria at the beginning of the civil war to shorten the war and prevent extremists from moving in.

      A large carbon tax when the revenue is return evenly to everyone as taxable income would allow a rate high enough to be effective without bloating government coffers as you so fear.

      • cgh says:

        You really don’t understand how supply and demand works, do you? Since there’s a surplus of refining capacity, no one’s going to build new ones in Canada until existing refining capacity is used up. All that not using KXL or any other export pipeline means is that someone else’s crude will go into existing refineries, not ours. Or are you prepared to pump direct subsidies into the oil industry to encourage them to build new ones here?

        And precisely how is “the leader” supposed to prevent the dollar’s value from soaring on international currency markets? By lowering interest rates further and bringing on yet another credit bubble?

        As for your carbon tax, there’s no such thing as a revenue neutral tax.

        • doconnor says:

          Nprway controls its currency with its sovereign wealth fund. The Bank of Canada can also intervene.

          How is my carbon tax not revenue neutral if the returned money was tax free.

          • cgh says:

            Canada doesn’t have a sovereign wealth fund. Resources, according to our constitution, are in the realm of the provinces.

            The role of the Bank of Canada is NOT to engage in direct infrastructure investment. Its role is to ensure the stability and value of the Canadian currency and financial system. We have other agencies that do such things such as CCC.

            The notion that manufacturing is somehow less polluting is delusional. Tertiary manufacturing depends upon the supply of raw materials from primary industry which have much larger energy and material inputs. Your suggestion of abandoning resource production and moving to manufacturing: 1. relocates such resource extraction to other jurisdictions which have slacker environmental controls than we do resulting in a worse problem, and 2. simply moves the environmental problem to someplace else. You have to look at the entire supply chain, not just the little bits of it you find attractive.

            As to the carbon tax, just from base principles, it can’t be revenue neutral because of its own administration cost. There’s a host of other things wrong with it, but this one will do. Revenue neutral is a phrase a politician drags out whenever he or she is trying to sell the voters a bald-faced lie.

          • doconnor says:

            Like all Canadian money, all money invested in infrastructure comes from the Bank of Canada. The government decided back in the 1970s to launder it through the big banks and other investors first. The Bank of Canada has happily financed the real estate bubble.

            You claim that 1 minus 1 does not equal 0 for values sufficiently close to a carbon tax suggests your beliefs are blinded ideology. We could take the administration cost from general revenue and then it would be revenue negative.

      • Al in Cranbrook says:

        The PM can’t control the dollar’s value, and historically the Canadian dollar has been at least as much of a reflection of the strength or weakness of the US buck as anything else.

        This government has done a lot to assist manufacturing, including a very competitive tax regime, tax deferments on new equipment and improvements, some 40 free trade agreements, removal of tariffs on equipment, etc. Meanwhile, in the heart of our manufacturing sector, Ontario, a thoroughly disastrous green energy scheme has driven electricity costs to be the highest in N. America, and has literally forced some manufacturers out of the province, no doubt with more to follow.

        Keep in mind, too, that a very large part of both Ontario’s and Quebec’s manufacturing sectors does a helluva lot of business with oil sands developers. As goes the health of Canada’s energy sector, so it goes with manufacturing. Canadian oil is taking about a $17/bbl haircut from world prices due to the lack of means to get it to refineries, specifically the Keystone pipeline. In short, (that useless SOB) Obama has cost the Canadian economy and both levels of governments literally tens of billions!

        Carbon taxes produce absolutely nothing, and solve absolutely nothing. They are a money grab, pure and simple, end of story. We’ve had one here in BC for some time now. I can assure you, (sarcasm alert) not one effing thing has changed with our climate!

  25. cgh says:

    Well, the Canadian viewers disagree with most of you.
    Harper: 1997;
    Trudeau: 1215;
    Mulcair: 590;
    May: 519 @9:28 pm
    Not even close, was it?

  26. JH says:

    I think I just heard NDP candidate Linda McQuaig on P & P say the oil out west may have to stay in the ground. Couple that with Megan Leslie & Co. running off to the US to agitate against the K XL and their other wishy washy statements on pipelines, I think Mulcair has some ‘splainin’ to do.

    • Peter says:

      You did. Historical NDP economic thinking. We should leave the oil in the ground and the fish in the seas and the trees in the forest, etc. and spend a lot of money on factories in Ontario and Quebec so they can make stuff.

      • The Doctor says:

        Well, of course we should — because factories don’t pollute or cause any damage to the environment. Nor do the things that factories produce, like cars for instance. But extractive industries are 100% evil and should be banned.

    • doconnor says:

      Unless you are a denier, you do realize that we can only put so much carbon into the atmosphere, so a lot of it must stay in the ground, including a lot of the tar sands. As oil demand drops more expensive supply ends first.

      • Peter says:

        No denier I. That’s why I’m in favour of accelerated nuclear development. I look forward to your, Linda’s and the NDP’s support.

    • billg says:

      Yep, she said it, then, she back tracked by saying she didn’t say it. Wanna know why the Cons have kept up the attacks on Trudeau?, this is why. Sooner or later and in a 12 week campaign the Federal NDP have to explain to the West why they love Oil production and then explain to many in their base why they are against Oil production. You cant have your house or apartment, your food and clothes, and your laptop with wireless internet to write smug comments on “tar sands” and pipelines and not be pro oil production. McQuaigs comments are not uncommon with the NDP and should wake up a sleepy electorate.

      • davie says:

        This is why I dug a hole in the ground in the bush down the lane and now live on roots and grubs. Now, if I say anything about carbon and climate and oceans’ integrity I do not have to worry about some twit telling me to drop all my petroleum based stuff that I have because I live in a petroleum based society.

        The NDP has to choose whether to go with IPCC, the greedy climate scientists, and the daily weather reports form around the globe…or with the burn-it-all for job growth geniuses.

        • billg says:

          Well…you got the smug part down.

        • Peter says:

          Yes, the NDP does have to decide that, and a lot of other stuff they haven’t got around to deciding because they’ve wasted the past ten years just yelling “Harper–the Horror!”. As I have a very rough idea of where the other parties stand, do you think they might get around to deciding before the election or is the idea that people should just vote them into government and they’ll get back to us in the fullness of time?

          • davie says:

            I agree about the whole NDP platform…I went to a secret website, ‘ndp.ca’ where only a few insiders can find the entire NDP platform.

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