I finally got to watch the first half of the debate today.
As of this part (up to Health Care), this is how I see it:
This may be part bias speaking, but I thought Harper came across as the only grownup in the room. He’d sit there patiently while five people had a go at them, and let them speak and not interrupt. They’d give him partisan boilerplate, work in “George Bush” a lot, and talk about how greedy businesses get breaks. And then Harper would get his turn, and quietly say, “Look. Here’s the reality. If you do X, this is what will happen. That’s why we chose to do Y. We’d love to do some of the things that you mentioned, but we have to balance all these needs off against each other, and work with limited funds and the reality of a global market.” Fairly straight talk. Are manufacturing jobs coming back? Probably not. Not those specific ones, anyway. They left for a reason - we weren’t competitive. Our job as government is to help people find new jobs, and help transition the economy to areas where we are competitive."
And the others would bluster and sputter about the little guy and how he’s hurt and how mean and callous Harper was. And when he’d get his chance, he’d just talk about his programs and the limitations of the power of government. It was a very, very good performance from him.
And I love the way every other party had a plan to be A) more fiscally responsible, B) Cut taxes, and C) increase spending. They don’t seem to realize that you can only pick two out of those three things.
The way it came across to me is that these guys fired every barrel they had at Harper - accusing him of being a Bush toady, trying to tie him to the finincial crisis, calling him heartless, telling him he’s wrecking the economy and the country, and all the rest. And in the end, Harper was pretty much unscathed.
And did you notice that the evil businesses du jure are now banks and oil companies? I guess the lefty focus groups have decided that banks have passed tobacco companies in the big race to see who can better be used for political gain. Congratulations, banks.
If I had to pick the second most impressive person, it would be Dion. Unlike the others, he sometimes came across as someone who actually has a clue and has some serious ideas that aren’t borderline nutty. In broad strokes, he’s right about carbon taxes, IF you assume you need to punish carbon in the first place, and that this is the time to do it. And I actually believe him when he says he would try to be fiscally responsible. But I don’t believe his tax plan. It’s not revenue neutral. The shell game the liberals are playing is to basically say that government spending is equivalent to a tax cut. We’re going to take an extra 12 billion dollars, but we’ll give you back 12 billion dollars in new government programs. So it’s revenue neutral.
That only works on the crazy planet. Everywhere else, that’s called taxing and spending.
Another thing that struck me is that Gilles Duceppe is doing the best he can to make two of the ‘have’ Provinces hate Quebec, the biggest ‘have-not’ province. he was blatant about his carbon program being a huge wealth grab from Alberta and Saskatchewan. Proud of it. He was positively beaming when he said, “This means MONEY for Quebec! More money!” He’s trying to make the case that since Alberta has been producing energy since 1990, and therefore emitting more CO2 than Quebec, that we’re on the hook for the past 18 years of emissions and need to pony up a huge wad of a cash and ship it east. it looked like most of the other parties agreed with that. Dion remained mute.
I guess these other parties have all decided that they are no longer national players, and are just regional parties, because they sure don’t mind pissing away every vote west of Manitoba for the sake of popular sound bites in support of programs that will never happen. As power and population continue to shift westward in Canada, they’re going to find themselves increasingly marginalized.
So far at this point in the debate, a big win for Harper. The partisans on the left will stick with their people, but the center’s going to move Harper’s way after that showing.