Memorable Debate Moments

There will be enough posts discussing who won the debate, so I will not bother with that.

The four leaders square off.

Well, okay, I will say this: no one won. Redford and Smith drew.  Redford was more polished, but Smith was the underdog and was polished enough. All either of them had to do was survive, and they both did. Neither landed a knock-out punch. Both managed to get through the tough questions (MLA pay and conscience rights) damaged, but not destroyed. On the other side, Sherman was not stellar, but he had some good one-liners and he showed he was neither a one-trick-pony nor crazy. I was disappointed with Mason, who I thought won the 2008 debate; tonight, he was not as quick or witty as he normally was.

As for some select moments, here they are.

Raj Sherman invokes Alabama. While I think his “This is Alberta, not Alabama” line is unstatesmanlike and unnecessary, it is pithy, it plays well to the voters the Liberals are targeting, and it is another one of those Raj one-liners that puts grins on people’s faces.

Danielle Smith discusses ‘inexperience’. In a classic channeling of conservative demigod Ronald Regan, Smith turns her weakness against her opponent. Redford pointed out Smith’s lack of legislature experience, and Smith replied, “I don’t have experience running deficits, I don’t have experience bullying doctors and I don’t have experience voting myself a 30-per-cent pay raise.” Of all the witty remarks, this one was probably my favourite.

Alison Redford teaches Westminster Democracy 101. After Smith extolled the virtues of populism, Redford replies back with everyone’s favourite example of populism-gone-wrong: California. While Mason said the “Americanization of Alberta politics” line, it was Redford who explained what the actually meant, and she outlined the problems with raising government revenue (without actually saying “raising government revenue”) when major spending proposals are continually subjected to referenda. Then, she explained the concept of government mandates. As a political science major, this response brought be back to my electoral systems class.

Brian Mason talks about committee pay, accidentally insults journalists. I do not think Mason intended to take a swipe at journalists (he loves them and they love him), but he was clearly flustered on the issue of MLA pay, so he blamed the media for oversimplifying the issue. Given that he is a funny soundbite-dispensing-machine, I am sure the journalists will forgive him for that.

Mason and Sherman’s “one-on-one” on taxes. Given that both parties have pledged tax reforms that would raise taxes on the rich, they had little to say to each other on this issue… so both of them ignored each other and went after Redford. I actually lol’d.

Alison Redford takes a page out of the federal Liberals’ 2004 platform, goes after the scary social conservatives in the Wildrose. This was not unexpected, though I was surprised Redford ended with the line, “rights for all.” While her closing statement was still the strongest out of all the leaders’, I thought this line was too narrow in scope to be the closing line. Then again, maybe testing indicated it was the best line against Smith.

Smith invokes the Reform forefathers. In an attempt to recreate the federal Conservative coalition in Alberta, Smith (a libertarian) invoked Preston Manning (populist) and Stephen Harper (classical liberal) as politicians who have been victims of ‘liberal fear-mongering’.

Smith trashes Peter Lougheed. If you are thinking, “Wait, I don’t remember this!” it is because Smith did not actually name him. Rather, she said that the PC party has NEVER manged the province’s finances properly. That was pretty audacious, given Peter Lougheed’s near-apotheosis in Alberta. Even Liberals worship him.

Finally, it did not occur during the debate, but, after the debate, Mason had one of his aides get him a slurpee. He wins the award for best photograph from the debate.


About jbsantos
Polling, politics, PR and outdoor pursuits.

5 Responses to Memorable Debate Moments

  1. Brian Wells says:

    Enjoyed your analysis, as I wasn’t able to find dee debate online a bit later than the live schedule and our Costco pilgrimage prevented catching it live. On a personal note, I liked that your post would fit on one page – some of your earlier ones were a WEE bit wordy, in MHO. Keep up the good work!

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  5. Mung says:

    Thus the problem with ceonoderatifn..We understand the idea of working towards a common benefit, we just don’t like the reality of it… And this isn’t a criticism of Ontario or British Columbia from an Albertan – it’s a comment on Quebec’s effort to derail Newfoundland’s efforts at equitable sharing of hydro resources.. it’s a comment on Alberta’s decades-old complaints over equalization payments.. and Ontario’s complaints over a high petro-dollar.. and so on.Provinces want “autonomy”.. but demand the benefits of confederacy.And they are, occasionally, mutually exclusive.If you don’t want to allegedly pollute the world with Alberta’s “dirty oil”, well, you’d best turn down any equalization coming from that resource (did you catch that Dalton?)Us.Them.It’s the age-old secret to consolidating power and distracting an electorate from realizing that you’re not doing your job.Now that McGuinty is seeing the writing on the wall – suddenly, Ontario’s failure is Alberta’s fault.Now that Alison Redford is, already, being called out for being the charletan she is (a budget premised on oil prices far beyond any rational expectation), she’s beginning to “circle the wagons”, and you can expect the blame for what promises to be continued financial mis-management in Alberta to be passed to British Columbia and others..Why not start with a discussion of our commonality, instead of the typical “us/them” meme?

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