Macleans’ Leaders’ Debate

Mulcair: “We are one month away from a technical definition of a recession.” 

Harper: “I’m not denying that…” 

If I had to pick a winner last night it was Thomas Mulcair of the NDP.  His moment came in that exchange.   It’s a blow  because the Conservatives have been trying so hard not to mention the economy, and Mulcair got him to admit it.  It might not have been the knockout blow but it wounded him.

A close second was Elizabeth May.  She punched well above her party’s weight, and managed to project a diplomatic air.  Her knowledge of climate change policy, and the environment went largely unchallenged. Is her shift to a team-first approach a nod to a possible credibility issue stemming from her performance at the recent Press Gallery dinner?

Third is Trudeau.  He showed some promise last night.  He got blows against Harper over the environment, and Mulcair over unity.  But he didn’t do much in terms of forwarding his own party’s agenda, or even stating it.  Fairness to the middle class is important, and fits extremely well with the failing economy.  But he failed to provide specifics.  C51 remains his achillies heel. He didn’t offer a convincing answer on why he supported it.  His closing remarks were odd; he repeated the Conservative attack ad labelling him as “not ready.”  The party’s ad responding to it is perfect and should’ve been left to speak for itself.

Last was Harper. The impact of Mulcair’s comments on the economy won’t be known for a while yet, but the fact Harper admitted to a technical recession is pretty big. Especially when you consider the lengths to which the Conservatives have gone not to talk about it.  Harper over-used the phrase “Let me be clear”, or let’s be clear in one segment.   It sounds too much like Nixon’s “Let me make one thing perfectly clear: “I am not a crook.”  With images of Senators on trial, and former MP’s being hauled away in handcuffs, this isn’t the best line to even use once.

To watch the debate click here.  Tweet me your picks for winners, your comments on this blog.