I’m starting a political blog. Not here, don’t worry, I’m starting it on another site altogether. Let’s not get too excited, some of us are Canadian in here. For now, though, I’m going to keep my personal, editorial analysis of the Canadian Leaders Debate right here on my own blog. I got rid of cable earlier this year (best decision ever: saving us like $100/mo and we don’t miss it at all.) so thankfully the internet exists and I was able to tune in to the live Canadian Leaders Debate put on by Maclean’s magazine Thursday night. Then I live tweeted about it. From two accounts. Because I know what fun is.
I’ll break down what was two hours of political speak into a few words that we can all understand: I don’t even think they were talking to us.
I’m politically entranced, I love this stuff. I’m educated specifically in political discourse. And even I was staring blankly at the screen wondering when it would start to make sense again. There were moments of clarity from one leader or another, but mostly it was jargon piled with statistics, laid on a bed of accusations. And that is frustrating.
But more than that, it’s insulting. I AM YOUR VOTER. I am your boss and your hiring committee. Don’t talk above me. When the line up for the debate topics reads: economy, environment, democracy and foreign policy; I should not be made to feel like I was duped out of any real action items that made sense. I know at least something about all of those things. I wanted new ideas on at least some of them. Mulcair wants a $15 minimum wage, but wait no Trudeau says he’s a liar. Trudeau is on a first date with the middle class, until Harper interrupts saying Liberals want to raise CPP and EI. Elizabeth May was the only one saying anything that seemed to reach your general Canadian, and most of the time she was playing auditory catch up to a discussion based in argument. They were nervous and so very clearly coached. It was awkward and hard to relate to. Which is a damn shame because I feel like this is the time that Canadians are wanting to feel engaged in the process. Social media puts politics in our faces in many ways and while not all press is good press, having your Facebook friend talking about who they’ll be voting for makes you at least perk up a little. This debate was meant to sway, and I think they all failed at that, with the exception of Elizabeth May, who didn’t quite hit the Prime Minister Material mark, but I think the Green Party’s website will get a lot of hits today.
Nobody bombed it. Mulcair came across condescending and slightly terrifying (who told that guy to talk so damn slow? and stop boring into my soul through your eyes, ya creep). He seemed to take his major points (minimum wage, recognizing the recession we’re in under Harper, attack Harper, attack Harper, attack Harper, oh yeah and bill C-51 is a goner) and repeat them. He did nothing for me, I didn’t even really pay much attention to his words because I was too off-put by his body language and stilted speech pattern. I read an article which pointed out that his new handlers were tasked with taking his aggression down a few notches and I think they’ve taken it too far because he seemed like an arrogant Grandpa who always thinks he knows more than you.
May proved she knows her background stuff (she’s a lawyer by trade, that’s kinda their thing), and I completely loved how she spoke in plain language and tried to reach the average unsure Canadian, but she’s nowhere near ready to lead a country. The biggest gaffe of the night belonged to her when she stated that overhauling the Senate wasn’t high on her PM priority list because “it’s too hard” which…wut? She did some Chinese fear mongering and brought up pipelines a lot, the latter was to be expected. While we’re counting tickets, I think she won this debate. She was relaxed and confident, not arrogant. She proved Green is more than a single-issue party and I think she was very successful at speaking to Canadians.
[insert here lots of the word “jobs” but nothing of real substance about how to create them other than raising or lowering taxes, depending on the party talking]
Harper was…arrogant and defensive, though not shaken. He didn’t have much to offer in the way of new policy, and he spent a lot of time talking about how Canada’s economy is one of the strongest of the G7. Which sounds great and all, but means nothing to the folks trying to find a job or make ends meet. He predictably took a large portion of the hits from the other candidates, they seemed to spend as much time talking about why they should be Prime Minister as they spent trying to point out the list of reasons Harper should no longer be Prime Minister. In my opinion, this is a poor strategy, it lets Harper talk about himself a lot (which is not a mistype, when he refers to Canada, he refers to himself) and he’s confident in the talking points he’s meant to hit. The man’s been PM for a decade, he’s cool under pressure. I don’t trust him, he’s shady as hell and he skirts around a lot of issues (his dismal environmental strategies, our recession, Senate scandals) by just shutting up and that’s weakness and cowardice and arrogance and GTFO, Harper.
Trudeau…man, I wanted this debate to become a solid reason to vote for him. I really did. But he did not deliver. He was on the attack most of the time, he spent the first half interrupting and I think it showed his nervousness. The second half he settled down a bit, but I really don’t think he said anything. He tried to make a case for a Liberal government being more friendly with the Americans (we spent quite a bit of time talking about the U.S, it was…uncomfortable) but offered no concrete ways to get that done. He had a couple slam dunks when he got some fiery passion under him- one about veteran’s benefits which unfortunately fell flat, and one in a quite frankly confusing exchange between himself and Mulcair about the Quebec separatist vote (which: is that really a thing we’re still talking about? I ask honestly, is that still on the table?) Trudeau leaned forward and dropped a “Nine. My number is nine. Nine Supreme Court Justices said one vote is not enough to break up this country…” and I thought that was a knockout punch. He ended with an impassioned, if ill received, closing remark positioned well outside the debate and more at Canadians themselves, speaking of pride, his dad, and his will to better our country.
Basically, the debate sold me on no one. I’m not a party line voter, I’m an issues voter. I care about taxes, but frankly they intimidate me. I don’t want to pay more, but if you can tell me precisely where they’re going to go and show me what you’re going to build for me with them? I’m inclined to listen. No one talked about healthcare, which is a real concern for me right now. It’s free here, but the waits are abhorrent and dangerous and that needs to change. I’m concerned about the economy but again, I don’t feel like I can touch it or affect any actual change from my lowly position as a citizen, which is really kind of terrible when you think about it. I am the economy…and yet, I’m alienated from it by way of the language used and the way it’s presented- which is: bad news slid in under the rug and covered up with a compliment sandwich of “what have we done for you lately”. I’m still on the hunt for my candidate, and “luckily” I’ve got lots of time cause this damn election is 72 days away. (Yes, I have a countdown timer on my phone. That nerd life, tho.)
When I got rid of cable, my only concern was that I would be missing The Daily Show. In a fitting line of ultimate political destiny, Thursday night was not only the Canadian Leaders Debate, but also the first U.S. Republican debate and Jon Stewart’s final Daily Show. I leave you now with his words of incredibly simple wisdom (with swears):