Friday, December 16, 2005

Canada Leaders' Debate Review

I should have wished I won the lottery. Or the Mercedes Benz draw my bank is having.

I was watching the Canadian Leaders' Debate on TV tonight. This one was in English. Jack Layton, the leader of NDP (our Ralph Nader, remember) asked Martin how he could improve our healthcare when immigrant doctors were driving taxis. At that moment I wished someone would ask this question again. Boom! The very next question they had a guy from Ontario, some Mr Sultani, ask the Prime Minister of Canada why they don't recognize immigrants' skills and qualifications and why they had to struggle.

This is very important - in Canada the first generation immigrants always have to struggle to establish themselves - it's their kids who get the fruits of Canada, should they wish. BTW Mr Sultani spoke from his living room which appeared well furnished. Yeah, I notice these things.

I was wrong here when I said the debates would be boring. They were not. I heard yesterday's French debates were boring. There was no such problem today. The English debate contained some good fireworks.

Harper: How can Mr Martin be concerned about my private advertisor's money when he misused the public advertisement money? Zing!!!!

Martin: I went on American TV and told the Americans they were wrong (on softwood lumber dispute). Mr Harper went on American TV and told them we (Canadians) were wrong (on Iraq). Take that, huh, huh, uhuh?!

Martin (to Duceppe, the French guy): My kids are born and raised in Quebec and you are not going to take their country away with some backhanded vote. Zing zang zoom!

There was also one unbelievable comment.

Layton: I believe if there were more women in Parliament, it would be less rowdy.

This from the guy who is married to Olivia Chow. Jack, Jack, you haven't met some of the women I know. Women have a lot of ideas and are often, um, more vocal advocates of their positions then men. As Antonia says on her blog, "maybe that's because they're stuck in the back benches, Jack".

And then the gaffe.

Duceppe: Even if I want a sovereign Quebec... Ok, so long bye bye. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Gille!

My general impression would be that Martin won the debate over all. Harper started well but he remained in that monotone emotionless state. Imagine a robot talking. That's him. It starts off in an interesting manner but then you hear the same speech again and again. No passion. Martin demonstrated proper emotion when required (i.e. Quebec separation, Americans, Canada's future). These were issues when Harper could have done something, but instead he went back to reading his notes.

Martin started winning it from when he was talked about healthcare benchmarks and continued to rise from there. When asked on his record and politician's promises, Martin replied, "Last time I promised to do something about fixing healthcare. I said I would have a conference with the premiers, I did that. I said we would have healthcare benchmarks within 2 years, and we got them within 1 year."

Then came his moment. Duceppe (our French separatist guy), who was coasting so far by insulting the Liberals, completely became unstuck by Martin's vigorous attack on him. When talking about the Clarity Act, Martin passionately advocated a Quebecor's love of Canada and warned Duceppe about stealing his country from him via some obscure and abstract referendum. From that moment on, Duceppe was a rambler, repeating his statements and lost whatever coherency he had in the English debate. You had to see it to believe it.

Martin even managed to convert me over to his day care plan. The Conservatives argued that giving everyone money (very little of it) was good as we were giving them choice. I liked it as it would mean $1200 per year per kid. And as we know, we desis have a lot of ...

But Martin then asked the question, "giving money is fine to those who have daycare. But what about those who cannot find anyone to care for their kids? Who will look after them? Your plan won't create spaces for them, and the money is not enough to pay for daycare. My plan will make spaces for them."

Layton was Layton. He wants to solve all of Canada's problems and ills and tax everyone to do it. Rich pay for the poor. Stand up for everyman. Noble, unrealistic. I like his party. I really do like him. But I just can't find myself that leftwing.

Duceppe lost it when Martin ambushed him on Clarity Act. He kept rambling and repeating from then on.

Martin's line, "Who thought we would be debating surpluses" shows how good Canada's economy is. So, Liberals, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.



voxpopgirl said...

Hi there Mezba,

found your blog by way of Antonia's.

Noticed your review and observations of tonights' English debate were similar if not the uncannily the same as those i posted over at azerbic tonight:-)

Although i'm a proud Torontonian and first generation Canadian, i'm [1] not as adept and informed on Canadian politics as i am with U.S. politics, as can be witnessed by hitting up [2] my very not updated blog here (insert shameful sigh here on both counts), so i feel a little goofy and shy about adding my voice and commenting on the finer political talking points of all things Canadian. I thought participating in Antonia's liveblogging experiment with other interested fellow Canucks would ease the embarrassment.

Anyhow, nice to meet you. See you in the comments section of azerbic during the 3rd debate... or at the GTAB Xmas party.

Andrew said...

Ah, yes. Those surpluses. Unfortunately, nobody seems to want to make a big deal (although I did see a few private citizens mention it on the Michael Coren show) about the surpluses basically coming at the expense of the provinces. Anybody can balance a budget by making a deep cut to transfer payments to the provinces. Unfortunately the huge surplus in ottawa has left us with a $5-6 Billion deficit and a new health care tax in Ontario.

Everyone seems to forget that Harper's child care plan includes money to open up new child care spaces. It's not nearly as much as Martin is planning on, but I think Martin's plan is to also make daycare cheaper by subsidizing fees. This will create even more demand for daycare and a need for even more spaces. By giving parents the money, those who choose to have their kids stay with a relative or neighbour will also benefit.

Harper: I agree, definately not a lively fellow.

Layton: I agree again. I find him very likeable. I'm ready for a change in government, and Layton seems like a stand-up guy. I just don't like his policies.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I have voted Liberal every election since I was old enough to vote. However, the need to be booted for Adscam. Also, they were too left-wing during last parliament for my liking.

andrew said...

that anonymous comment was be BTW. Made a mistake in when posting.

mezba said...

@voxpopgirl: Hi and welcome. Ya, I think we have pretty similar political instincts. I enjoyed participating in Antonia's liveblogging experiment, too bad her software made things a bit slow. I rather thought her approach to the English debate was better than the French one (one big thread).

The azerbic link is here, the one in the comments was broken for some reason!

Thanks for the GTAB link. I blog mostly of my views as a Bengali Toronto Muslim guy, but this being election time in Canada, have a few posts here and there about Canadian politics.

@andrew: I agree with you that surplus can be a mathematical trick. The Harris government only acheieved a balanced budget by slashing transit to cities and selling the 407 (which made me switch to Liberal in the next elec, and now McGuinty will probably make me switch back).

I am actually comfortable with Harper, I think he has mellowed over the years and don't think Bush conservatism will fly here (you never know though), it's some other yahoos in his party that makes many of us hesitant. Like Stockwell Doris Day. How a brilliant guy like Preston Manning got the boot from that party I never know.

Jaybird said...

Well I am glad that you found the debate interesting. I found if very boring. The way they had it set up this time was more informative but I didn’t like how they couldn't ask and answer each other’s questions. I liked how they had questions asked from the public this time. I guess I just didn't realize how much I would miss them fighting like little children. Sometimes the questions they ask each other can make it that much more thought provoking. I did find that this format also restricted the amount of “Stephen Harper fear mongering” from Paul Martin. It made each leader rely on what policies their party had for the people of Canada. I find it hard to believe the Liberal party after the sponsorship scandal …….. and why is a party, that 12 years ago said they would abolish the GST, saying it is a bad idea to cut the GST anyway?

Anonymous said...

Mez...yea, the debate was pretty good. There were some good questions and some good answers. When Harper was asked about the Gay Marriage issue, all he said (something along these lines) was "we will have a free vote in the parliament" to which Dusseppe (the french guy) said, "What vote? We discussed that long time back.. we dont need to vote again". me that was like Holy cow man..these people are going at each other.
Other things I noticed was:
Martin - was taking shots mostly at Dusseppe and Harper
Harper - was taking shots mostly on Martin
Layton - was taking shots at both Harper and Martin
Dusseppe - was taking shots mostly on Martin. (At times he seemed to be lost) :) I dont know why dusseppe stands up for the elections, he is just going to get Quebec's votes..thats all.

But we are headed for an interesting election this year. Paul Martin might have won the debate, but not because of his answers..he composed himself with dramatic expressions on his face, which only an actor can have. Harper was a robot smiling at occasions with no facial expressions. Layton seemed like a Bootcamp officer..pounding his fists and stuff and pointing his fingers at the camera (just like Uncle Sam did to recruit Americans into the Army during the WW's). Duseppe was a confused person. Some of his answers didnt make sense at all.

- Behbood