TORONTO - Debates in Canada are all about “issues” and how candidates handle them. There should be a discussion about what is and what is not of National importance: something of economic, Constitutional consequence or of “cultural import”. What we got Monday night was embarrassment by association.
Since 1984’s now famous exchange between political heavyweights, Brian Mulroney and John Turner, all debate strategies focus on creating that “golden moment” that encapsulates vision and inconsistencies and, as a magnet, draws the public to an inevitable conclusion.
Turner was an honourable man; but Mulroney’s repartee resulted in a veritable Conservative landslide. Everyone else became political “roadkill”: PCs 211, Libs 40, NDP 39, IND 1 in a 282-member House of Commons.
We are in 2019, the House will have 338 MPs. What they will be doing, based on last night’s debate among their leaders, is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s attributable to the convoluted, confused debate format and the wannabe “star moderators”. It cannot all rest on the shoulders of the debaters.
The only one who made consistent sense was the Bloc Quebecois’ Yves-François Blanchet who is an avowed Separatist. He admitted “his vision” and reassured everyone that remains his goal. Until then, he would work in the House on whatever initiative others might propose to advance those interests.
Cynically, that involves increasing transfer payments from Canada to Quebec. His stand is inimical to the Canadian Federation. No discussion concerning mobility, transportation and other economic issues that might flow from that. He will wait for the Premier of Quebec to signal what must be done. He’s not from our parish and doesn’t want the rest of us in his.
Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) doesn’t want to increase the congregation of either parish. For him, there are no net benefits to increasing our population base that he can identify or sustain with argumentation of any value.
Yet, for 2017, StatsCan reported that live births exceeded deaths by only 99,602 units. A purposeful immigration plan that builds on a sound demographic policy will be the foundation stone of economic and social stability. Or diversity for that matter.
One suspects that neither the BQ nor the PPC have much use for that or for people who look like Jagmeet Singh. Mr. Singh seemed intent on impersonating a modern-day Robin Hood. He could have concentrated on what the NDP proposes (it does historically have a sensible strategy) rather than focus on why he is the embodiment of diversity.
Aside from saying the leading candidates represent polar choices of “deny and delay”, he committed to supporting the Liberals in any potential minority government. Some of his candidates must have cringed at the tactic – Premier Wynne similarly threw in the towel in the last week of the Ontario election and left her candidates to their own devices.
There are some good NDP candidates who just had the rug pulled from under their feet. It is a tactic that bewilders those with a less “nuanced” approach to political di¢erentiation.
Elizabeth May of the Green Party must seek inspiration from the same hymn book. She too declared she will support a Liberal Majority or Minority Government.
Why are any of them invited to the next (French) debate?