First Debate

November 17th, 2006 by Potato

I managed to sit (well, technically stand since the place was packed) in the first all-candidate’s debate here in London tonight. It was quite a show. I think Elizabeth May did quite well for herself, but the other candidates did fairly well too (and it appears I’ve underestimated Pearson, though he is rather full of himself… but I suppose freeing slaves in the Sudan or somesuch will do that to a guy).

Everyone took the green party very seriously, taking turns to try to shoot them down or steal pages from their playbook in at least equal measure to the other parties.

I don’t think the Tory candidate did a very good job: her party’s platform drew a lot of boos and hisses (especially the “I support the traditional definition of marriage.” comment). She kept spewing the catchphrases about accountability and promises, and that she’d personally stand up for issues relevant to London in the Tory caucus — unfortunately, a big broken Tory promise is barely two weeks behind us, and Garth Turner was mentioned just before she promised to cause a rucus in caucus, and we all know how well the Tories stand for that sort of behaviour now. There was a mock-election held after the debate, and surprisingly the Tory candidate came in second (a distant second to Elizabeth’s landslide — but it was a largely student crowd).

Speaking of students, it was interesting to see the various responses to the question of how to help ease the cost and most importantly debt of post-secondary education. The Tory candidate’s plan was to have more low-interest student loans, and to not charge income tax on loans or scholarships. That went over like a lead balloon, since we all know that even low interest can rack up, and it often switches to high interest the instant you graduate. Plus if you’re squeaking by as a student on loans and scholarships, you’re probably not paying tax anyway (when I had my TAship I had to pay all of $80 in tax; this is the first year it might go into triple digits). The Liberal candidate didn’t really respond specifically, just to say that before they lost power, great things were coming with x-million dollars to go into the budget for education, and if we gave them another chance they’d go back to that plan. The NDP plan was interesting, involving paying half the first and last year’s tuition [or was that part of the Liberal one?], and freezing or rolling back tuition costs. The Green response was “When I graduated from Law school in [70’s/80’s?] I had all of $5000 in debt. That’s because back then the government had bursaries, grants and interest-free loans, which they scrapped after a report said it was a great way to save money. Going back to that system would help a lot of people — higher education should be effectively free for those that want it.”

Anyhow, my general feeling coming away from this is still that E. May is the candidate of choice. Pearson came off as arrogant, and moreover, “a man of action” which is great for a lot of leadership positions, but maybe not as a backbencher in the opposition party of the Canadian Parliament. Men of action lose it in those sorts of situations. Walker liked to tout how the NDP were the only party to do, well, pretty much anything (defend the environment, work for students, support the arts, work towards equality for women, you name it, and the NDP are the only ones working for that). It seemed like a really lame attempt to try to distinguish herself from E. May, and just made her seem kind of sad. I liked it when she finished her women’s issue thing with “the NDP is the only party determined to have women make up 50% of their members”, and then Elizabeth says “well, if you elect me the caucus will be 100% women.”

Comments are closed.