There were no knockout punches last night. Stephen Harper droned on with his usual talking points. But nobody put him on the mat. Elizabeth May reminded us -- or should have reminded us -- of just how intelligent she is. She's also quick on her feet. Michael Harris writes:
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May looked a little better than anyone else last night — perhaps because people have forgotten just how intelligent she is. She was first to arrive with her daughter and grandson and was the only leader to speak to the press. She reminded people that they need to think about their vote, that Canadians are electing a Parliament, not a U.S.-style president.
May did particularly well on the economy section of the debate, stressing that Canada is now in a recession, making it the exact wrong time to practice the austerity preached by Stephen Harper. One of the unexpected dividends from May’s overall strong performance is that it makes the decision to exclude her from other debates looked patently foolish. The Munk dudes need to seriously think it over.
And Justin Trudeau held his own. He, too, was quick on his feet:
He was articulate, substantive and just feisty enough to get in Stephen Harper’s face on the economy. In one of his better jibes, he implored Harper to stop sending government cheques to millionaires. (An old line, but effective.) Trudeau scored points by reminding the often smug leader of the Conservatives that Canada is the only country in the G-7 in recession.
And Thomas Mulcair, the front runner, made no mistakes. As a lawyer, he knows that Supreme Court decisions on the Senate and Quebec separation do not go his way. But he soldiers on, stuck with policies he did not make.
Stephen Harper looked tired and dull. But that's what his base thrives on. Like Dr. Goebbels, he keeps repeating the same lies -- the economy is in trouble because of international decisions; the opposition will nix income splitting for seniors.
And, sadly, his base keeps buying the falsehoods. Last night's debate didn't change the political landscape.