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January 10, 2006

Comments

Josh

Harper did pretty well. Despite his frequent use of anglicisms, he was obviously putting in a lot of effort and sounded, well, credible. I think the Tories can safely expect a couple seats.

I was most impressed by Layton, who seemed to be without his overearnestness in English debate yesterday. I did not like, however, his talk about "winning conditions for Canada" in Quebec. Martin did better than last night - I enjoyed it when he took Duceppe to task for suggesting that Health Canada has no need of researchers, as if practising physicians devise and test new drugs.

Duceppe was hostile and mean-spirited for the most part. His comment at the beginning about how the Bloc can never be afflicted by corruption or any ethical lapses was laughable given that the Bloc will never govern nor face the responsibility of holding power.

Rafael Najera

Excellent summary of the debate.

I also think Harper did pretty good in French; last time was actually excruciating to hear him trying to articulate grammatically correct sentences. He's obviously more relaxed now. He scored some points at the end when he said the Quebeckers should realize that obviously French is not his mother language but that there are some points of contact between he and the province.

Martin looked as stressed out as last night in English. He's in trouble.

Layton is basically irrelevant in Quebec, but I think people here generally like him. I like him.

As for Duceppe, I've always been impressed at the capacity he has to look good to people in Quebec. He obviously masters his rhethoric skills in French. He wins debates in the view of many francophones not because his mother language is French but because he is very good at it.

ClaudeB

As an actual "in-the-flesh" francophone voter, I agree with Rafael, on Duceppe as the best debater of the lot. He was commanding, calm and well-rested and he answered most questions with an encyclopedical knowledge of facts and figures. He was also the only one to mention cities and towns and the problems they're facing.

Martin looked so tired of anwsering the same questions again and looked distracted... it was one hell of a faux pas to falsely accuse
Layton (rather than Harper) of opposing abortion and the inclusion of property rights in the constitution.

As for Harper, he was OK, but his (normal) emotionless style kind of annoys me. There is also this issue with invoking the name of René Levesque.

I (and many others here) find it tasteless and disparaging, especially when it's pointed out (Vincent Marissal of La Presse made the point) that Harper did not disclose all the names of his contributors when he was elected leader of the Canadian Alliance, in 2002 or when he lobbied hard in favour of money from third parties in election campaigns -- when he was GM of the NCC, the lobby group went to the Supreme Court to allow them to spend on elections.

It's the total antithesis of Levesque's action regarding accountability: Both his Election Act and the Referendum Act (a.k.a Loi sur les consutltations populaires), expressly prohibits contributions from people or entities who are not actual voters.

Mandos

And oddly enough the same thing happened in the English debate, in almost the same way, re Levesque. I too did a double-take on Harper wearing the mantle of Levesque. You might know better, but I don't think Harper's target audience will pay too much attention to this in Quebec anyway as some people appear to be happy to have *some* alternative to the Liberals.

ClaudeB

Maybe, maybe not. This Harper double-speak might tie in with the Option Canada story, with has been THE hot-button topic in the Quebec media (you even hear some people mumbling "Parizeau was right in 1995") for the last six days.

If I was a Bloc strategist (which I'm not), I would play it like this:

1- Option Canada was a shadowy organization which used money to unduly influence the results of the Quebec referendum. This was revealed by Lester & Philpot's book.

2- Harper was the advocate for a some organization (the NCC is not known in Quebec, therefore for the average voter here, it could seem shadowy) petitioning the Supreme Court to allow lobby groups to spend money on federal election campaigns.

3- So, as a potential PM, would Harper disregard Quebec electoral laws in a future referendum, if he's elected? Past experience shows us he is against popular financing of political parties operating under strict limits and support third-party (unions, businesses or lobby groups) financial involvement.

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