I caught the last half hour of this evening’s Canadian election debate which was broadcast on C-SPAN.
Tonight’s debate took place in Calgary and concentrated on the economy and feature Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, official opposition leader Thomas Mulcair who leads the NDP and Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau. Unlike last month’s debate, Green Party leader Elizabeth May was not included.
If I’m Harper and the Tories I am far more worried about Mulcair and the NDP than I am about Trudeau and the Liberals. Mulcair was calm, cool and collected. Trudeau looked about 12-years old standing next to Mulcair. Although he was passionate, he stumbled over his words and did not inspire confidence.
While Harper did a nice job in his exchanges with Trudeau, he was on the defensive about his record and concentrated what he would do in the future as if he hasn’t been Prime Minister for nearly a decade.
But there will be two more debates this month. A week from today a French language debate will take place in Montreal and include Harper, Mulcair, Trudeau, May and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Ducceppe. A foreign policy debate is scheduled to take place in Toronto on September 28th between Harper, Mulcair and Trudeau. I expect Harper to be stronger in this debate.
The election takes place on October 19th.
UPDATE: The Toronto Sun seems to agree with my assessment of Trudeau coming off like a 12-year old, describing him as “an irritant getting in the way of two adults having a conversation than a productive contributor to the conversation.”
If you need someone to canoe down Calgary’s Bow River or climb Grouse Grind outside Vancouver, then Trudeau is your man. But if it’s a substantive policy discussion you’re seeking, the choice is between Stephen Harper and Tom Mulcair.
Come to think of it, Trudeau might want to spend more of his time and energy climbing up and down stairs at homes in his Montreal constituency. A new poll shows him behind NDP candidate Anne Lagace Dowson by double digits.
Trudeau still has time on his side, but he cannot afford another debate performance like he had last night.