Another day, another useless debate

di Joe Volpe del October 11, 2019

Don’t look to “rolling poll” results to figure out who won or lost last night’s debate, or if it made a difference. Ask my ten-year-old grandson instead.

The only “impressions” worth exploring after last night’s French language debate, and for that matter, Monday’s English language debate, is the number of viewers. How many Canadians, subjected to hype and advertising about the importance of making an informed decision on October 21, took the trouble to tune in?

Let’s stay on the positive side for a minute. From a technical presentation point of view, last night’s was much better than Monday’s. From a substance perspective, vastly inferior to last week’s other French language debate. The one viewed exclusively by Francophones whose cable or satellite provider offered channel 102 – without a translator.

Canadians spend $1.7 billion of their tax dollars annually so that they can be “informed” during the periodic “debates” at election time and to watch “filler” in between times. I am willing to wager that the number of viewers was very small and decreased the moment the translator talked over the debaters. I looked for channel 102.

Those who didn’t, or couldn’t, faced the same dilemma that 7.7 million Allophones (who speak neither of the official languages at home): rely on someone else’s translation of events to determine for you what is significant to your life in Canada.

So, last night’s debate, like Monday’s, was produced by Big Media for Big Media’s journalists and the Polling business. And it was all about “performance”: who looked best or sounded most fluid. If you watched and expected anyone other than a native Francophone (purelaine) to fit that order, you’re not smarter than a fifth grader (popular television show).

In fact, if you watched the show for some reason unknown, other than you had to do it as a condition of your job, you’re not smarter than a fifth grader. A sixth grader in my household opted for homework, then alternated between the football game and the hockey game afterwards.

Why not? What was there to decide?

The Leaders of the NDP and the Green had already said they could, and would, only work with a Liberal leader post election, irrespective of outcome. Were they lying? Hard to say; they both expressed dismay at the lethargic pace of action by the current government on the climate change crisis and workers’ rights. Theatre?

It would be very unlikely that the PPC, with one MP currently in the Commons, would catapult beyond any of the others. If you are reading this article, in Canada, there is 77% chance you are not able to vote for the Bloc (they are not on the ballot where you live). No matter, the Bloc had an audience of one: the Premier of Quebec.

In the final analyses, this non-debate raised only four issues, and none of them are going anywhere as long as none of the major Leaders are willing to cross swords with the Premier Legault of Quebec. First, whether the Federal authority would trump the right of provincial governments to constrain religious freedoms (as well as others) by invoking a Notwithstanding clause. Not a chance.

Second, Immigration: when Premier Legault says how many and who, the major parties will focus on “process”. Judging by performance of the current Liberal Minister for Immigration and that of his Conservative predecessors, this should be an entertaining comedy routine, except that real people and small businesses aren’t laughing.

Third, the environment. If Greta Thunberg had not come to Canada, the issue would have lapsed into a comatose state. It has now been subsumed into an issue of provincial rights. Premier Legault isn’t interested in a national programme.

Finally, ethics and the rule of law, i.e., the law applies to everyone equally. Unless Premier Legault says that it is fair to punish enterprises whose illegal practices, like those of SNC Lavalin - in which Quebec has a 19.5% ownership share, may harm Quebec interests. Not going to happen.

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