I tried to listen to the English language leaders debate. I turned it off after about forty-five minutes. It wasn't a debate. Michael Harris correctly characterizes it as "a third rate cage fight:"
The confrontation that everyone was waiting for, Trudeau versus O’Toole, never materialized in any coherent way. Given that one of those two men will be prime minister in just ten days, at least according to the current polling, it was a squandered opportunity of monumental proportions.
Had there been a substantive exchange between the two leaders, Trudeau would have been able to probe some of O’Toole’s signature platform policies that have now been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Those costings reveal that the Conservative party’s child care plan, for example, is nowhere near what the public was led to believe it was.
The way Erin O’Toole has been selling the Conservative plan, families would get a direct cash infusion through an improved child-care tax credit, roughly equivalent to the Liberal cash promise. The Liberal plan is to send $29.8 billion to the provinces over five years, with the goal of creating $10-a-day child care.
“It turns out that the Conservatives would replace the nearly $30-billion in child-care transfers to the provinces with just $2.6 billion in child tax credits to individuals. The Conservatives will honour the first year of deals signed by the Liberal government, delivering provinces a one-time transfer of $3.1 billion. But thereafter, the Tories would replace child-care transfers with a child-care tax-credit worth approximately 91 per cent less,” [The Globe and Mail's] the editorial board wrote.
And there were lots of other nasty personal exchanges:
[Annamie] Paul offered to “educate” the Bloc leader about the reality of racism. Blanchet replied that it was not an offer, but an insult. The Bloc leader already felt aggrieved after the moderator had earlier raised the issues of racism and xenophobia in a question about Quebec’s Bill 21.
Paul was also involved in another vitriolic exchange, after she claimed that Trudeau was not really a feminist, reminding the audience that he had driven two strong women, Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott, out of his party over the SNC-Lavalin affair.
It was these clips that made the news broadcasts.
The moderator, Shachi Kurl, was on a power trip. She cut leaders off, not allowing them to give explanatory answers.
This was no debate. It was a Canadian version of The Jerry Springer Show.
Image: Sean Kilpatrick, Canadian Press