Friday, October 03, 2008

Political debates

I watched the Canadian leaders debate last night rather than the comedy show of the vice-presidential candidate debate in the US.

I'm far from an expert on Canadian politics, economics is not my forte, and a don't have a great memory for past political history. I guess that makes me a dangerous voter. However I did my citizen duty and paid attention to the 2 hour debate last night. But as a Canadian, I think my viewpoint and comments are valid.

The unfortunate thing is that rather than a true debate on national topics, political debates typically turn to attacking the current prime minister. That was very evident last night and definitely skews the debate.

I think the moderator and organizers did a great job focusing on the topics that concern Canadians the most: the economy, crime, the environment, healthcare, Afghanistan, the arts, priorities and trust.

So, breaking all the rules of safe topics in polite conversation, I'll try and summarize my thoughts on the party leaders:

Elizabeth May, Green Party - smart, funny, well articulated. Appearing to side a little to the right, but not holding back from vicious attacks on Harper. A pleasant surprise showing that the Greens have a much broader platform than just the environment. A little green, but I like her.

Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Quebecois - well spoken, knowledgeable, but a little wacky. Obviously his Quebec only focus taints his arguments, and referring to good news from Quebec is ok, but he's not the premier of Quebec. A little radical, but I like the guy.

Jack Layton, New Democratic Party - a angry man and not very classy. Doing a good job buddying up to the common man (and woman) and especially, the blue collar worker. I could see his point and who he's speaking for, but I just don't like his constant confrontational approach and his lack of respect for his political competitors. I don't like him, sorry.

Stephane Dion, Liberal - a frustrated professor type who can't communicate his thoughts very well or perhaps his plans are so muddled he's confused himself. There may be some very good things he's saying, but I have a real challenge understanding him. Yes, he English is very poor, but it's more than that, his delivery is very confusing. Maybe it's me, but I find his arguments are all over the map, appearing incomplete, and inconsistent. Sorry, but I don't think this guy could lead and organize a dinner party, never mind a country. I'm very disappointed the Liberals couldn't find a better leader to represent their ideas and pose a better opposition to the PC's.

Stephen Harper, Progressive Conservative - calm, confident and smart. I got a little uncomfortable that he was telling us about lots of good things he's doing as prime minister today, but I didn't have a clear understanding of how well these programs have worked as opposed to his failures, and how bad our economy really is (my bad). Obviously, personal finances are suffering greatly today, but I'm thinking that a large part of that is to do with US investments. I don't think it's easy to separate the Canadian economy from the US. I may be a little unpopular by this view, but I don't think the economy is that bad here in Canada. What I do find is that we have some clear issues with the environment, crime and healthcare. In most of these other topics, Harper's comments on his plans and past decisions, seemed to make sense to me. I'm not pleased with his lack of commitment to the environment, and I still don't completely trust him (but I don't think I can trust any of the other candidates with running the country for the first time, in these difficult times). I think he's still the best choice for prime minister.

Listening to the news this morning, I wondering if I saw a different show, so I may not be speaking on behalf of most Canadians. But are my views similar to my readers ?


PJMixer said...

Quick comment while still listening to talk radio...

It appears that Harper has a clear lead in the polls and we likely retain his seat. Therefore the race is really for opposition seats.

A think a healthy (but sensible) opposing view in government is a very good thing. The question is, which other party provides the best opposition ? Perhaps the liberals are too close to the middle and wouldn't provide enough of a counter-point. Having more opposition from the NDP or even from the Greens may be a better government for Canada.

Here's a wacky idea, why not vote for your choice for leader (or MP), plus vote for who you'd like to see as the opposition party ?

Suze20TO said...

Having watched some of both debates, my feeling is that the person who "wins" the debate speaks the language best.

The two French leaders were said to have won the French debate. The three English leaders were said to have done well in the English debate.

In my opinion our prime minister ideally should speak both languages well, especially English.

I couldn't watch the whole debates though. I didn't enjoy the 4 against 1 format.

To me the debate just shows us the leaders' personalities and speaking ability. They don't really go into details on what they would do. They're too busy attacking or defending.

So how important is language and speaking ability to lead the country? Are actions more important or how we look, sound and present ourselves? Am I being shallow in thinking that we shouldn't cringe when we hear our Prime Minister speak? Because really, if I had a candidate who didn't understand the issues but spoke eloquently against another who was difficult to understand but would vote and act on the issues the way I wanted, I would go for the latter.

Suze20TO said...

Love your wacky idea!!

Richard said...

Hey listen, our president can't speak the language either, then again he can't tie his shoe laces... I wish I could have seen the Canadian debate, it would have been a wonderful distraction from our farce. I swear to god I saw animated birds flying around Palin while "it's a small world" played in the background.... Biden must have been wondering "how do I kill Bambi's mother and not look like a jerk?"......

Canada... invade us... take over...please!

Suze20TO said...

OMG Richard...I am laughing hysterically!!! I'm just thankful for the great SNL skits...oh, I'm just realizing that's why The Daily Show is on my PVR (we hadn't watched it in a while)...I was thinking that political comedy was going to get boring with GWB leaving...maybe not.

carolyn sewell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
carolyn sewell said...

Saw these need posters done for the Canadian Election.

carolyn sewell said...

ugh, i suck. i meant to write "neat"