I have never understood why people are so obsessed with picking ‘winners’ for debates that are not being decided by professors in debating societies, but rather by the media and the Canadian people who tuned in. My news feed this morning was clogged with asinine headlines like “4 out of 10 debate viewers call Harper winner: Poll,” which is just such a reductive way of looking at it. So I won’t call a winner, because no one won, because there was nothing to win. The debates are about sharing ideas (theoretically), and maybe swaying a voter or two (also theoretically).
And likely, if you watch it with the right crowd, the debate is also about drinking. Drinking when someone says something expected (like ‘coalition,’ ‘families,’ or the sleeper hit of the night, ‘Bill 101’), something vaguely sexual, or something downright hilarious. The best lines of the night that I heard over the din at a friend’s house were the now infamous Harper jab “I dont accept the truth of those attacks,” and the hilarious Layton quip “hashtag fail” to denote the failure of some Harper initiative or another. That one had us spilling beer.
But on a vaguely more serious note, the most memorable lines of the evening came from Gilles Duceppe. He was the wild card of the debates, who likely should not have been allowed to participate if May was not, on account of his regional standing, and desire to break away from the country. I have been saying for weeks that I imagine the vast majority of Bloc voters do not actually want to break away from Canada, so much as want Quebec’s interests to be looked after federally.
This is not 1995. Duceppe is not Parizeau.
And right as I finished saying this last night and suggested that the Bloc update their mandate to eliminate any reference to separatism on account of it seeming so antiquated, Duceppe comes out in his closing remarks and says that the other leaders do not understand the Quebec consensus, and that therefore Quebec must become its own country. And that’s when Gilles Duceppe made me look like an ass.
Between his relentless pushing of Jack Layton to recognize the validity of Bill 101, the French Language bill, his stated desire to work towards a Quebec as an independent country, and his equally bold statement that multiculturalism has been tried in Quebec and that it does not work, I would say that the passion the Globe and Mail said was lacking from the debate was present, but that those bold and passionate claims came from the one man that the rest of Canada can’t vote for!
All in all, the Leader’s Debate was most definitely not a joke, and certainly not a waste of time, as some suggested. But between Layton’s NDP sales pitch, Harper’s creepy refusal to look at ANYONE, let alone the camera, Ignatieff’s often stiff repetition of ‘truth and democracy’ as being the core values Harper lacks, and Duceppe’s stated aim to break the country apart, it was more about fear from everyone, and lacking in a vision of what Canada can be.
As expected, it was often about why not to vote for old pee pants Harper over there according to the Opposition, and less about their hope for Canada.
It’s naive, but that’s what I’m voting on.
hashtag hope < – – (This is a joke, you see? I make joke.)