The Liberal Leadership Debate -“The Lose-ah In Vancou-ah”
I had planned to write today about the federal Liberal leadership debate that was held yesterday in Vancouver but after having suffered through most of it, there has been a change in plans. What a tedious drag-fest that turned out to be.
As riveting television, it made Antiques Roadshow look positively breathtaking and as political theatre – well, it just wasn’t. It was reality television without much connection to reality. It was no ‘Thrilla In Manila’ – it was ‘”The Lose-ah In Vancouva-ah”.
The only three things I learned were that Justin Trudeau really doesn’t have a clue although I sort of knew that already; Martha Hall Findley and Marc Garneau are probably the smartest of the bunch but Martha is the only one of the two of them with an actual personality and everything that is, or that ever has been, wrong with this country is Stephen Harper’s fault.
For those of you who just tuned in, Stephen Harper is Canada’s Prime Minister and according to progressives he is responsible for all the bad stuff that ever happened including the last Ice Age and Daylight Savings Time.
Maybe it’s just me but there just seems to be something sadly pathetic even patently offensive about a bunch of political hacks getting before the cameras and ignoring the fact that their party is responsible for some of the most egregious and cynical conduct in recent Canadian history.
AdScam, a sitting Liberal senator convicted of fraud, a former Liberal cabinet minister facing fraud charges, a Liberal Parliamentary senior staffer fired for misuse of government computers and the Liberals remain the only political party in Canada to have had anyone charged in the RoboCall scandal of the last election. Undeterred by facts, to hear the folks on stage tell it, only the Liberal Party knows what’s best for Canada. The lack of humility and the over-abundance of hubris is breathtaking.
The debate format itself was bizarre to say the least.
The stage was decorated with so much red, even Mao Tse Tung would have been uncomfortable. All nine candidates were trotted out to separate podiums for opening statements and then hustled off stage to reappear in recurring groups of three. A moderator, who turned out to be more of a cheerleader than CNN’s Candy Crowley during the Presidential debates, introduced people from the studio audience who lobbed obviously planted softball questions and then whatever three candidates were on stage had a go at debating it.
Debating is in the eye of the beholder.
There was more, “I agree with my colleagues” than you’ll hear at a Tony Robbins’ motivational seminar. Even when they had just spent a couple of minutes disagreeing – the candidates were quick to point out that they agreed with each other.
Goodwill positively oozed from every pore.
Martha Hall Findlay is probably the sharpest knife in this drawer. She has specific policy ideas, most of which I disagree with but respect nonetheless because they are reasoned and well-articulated – and she’s quick on her feet. Marc Garneau is also pretty sharp although no match for Martha when it comes to personality.
Those two should be the front runners in this contest but, of course, they aren’t.
Justin Trudeau, who spent the entire debate reaching out to unite Canadians around a grand new vision, is the front runner without the messy business of having to actually articulate what his grand new vision might be. His policy platform isn’t so much weak as non-existent. When he was challenged by another candidate, Joyce Murray, to explain how he intended to defeat the Harper Conservatives, he replied, “by reaching out to all Canadians” as if that said it all.
Personally, I’m tired of being reached out to and prefer a little more actual work get done.
He did manage to passionately and repetitively blame everything on Prime Minister Stephen Harper except for the stuff he blamed on NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. I’ll bet those two are just drooling at the prospect of Canada’s Peter Pan becoming the next Liberal leader and can’t wait to get him on a stage in an election campaign debate.
It wouldn’t be pretty but it would definitely be a whole lot more entertaining than yesterday’s charade – sort of like watching two seasoned lions hunting a gazelle in the tall grass but without having to go all the way to the Serengeti to enjoy the experience.
I’d actually make popcorn and settle in to enjoy that debate.
The establishment candidate, Martin Cauchon, a former Liberal cabinet minister who jumped into the race last week, looked like he was at the wrong debate, not geographically speaking but in terms of era. If there was ever anyone who appeared to be ‘yesterday’s man’ Mr. Cauchon was it. His major contribution was to tell us that he was “prepared to roll up his sleeves” to rebuild the Liberal Party but I suspect it will take a touch more effort than that.
Joyce Murray spoke about a “digital bill of rights” as if rights on the Internet should be different somehow than rights in the real world. She also spoke about ending the prohibition on marijuana although that turned out be less altruistic than just another Liberal cash grab when she revealed she would also tax the sale of legalized weed.
I’m sure the stoners will be dancing in the streets over that idea.
The rest spoke passionately about everything from the environment to the economy; from home ownership to sustainable development while skillfully avoiding saying much of anything at all and in both official languages.
Invariably it always came down to two things. Say as little as possible with as many words as possible and it’s going to cost you and me more money (weed smokers, take note).
The Liberals love things that generate more tax revenue like taxing marijuana and some kind of charge for carbon. Joyce Murray actually said she’d like to see Alberta oil shipped east and sold in Canada which on the surface sounds like a great idea. Her point, however, was that because we sell oil to the United States at below market prices, we should sell it instead to Canadians in the east at full market price because – well — they’re already used to paying more for their oil anyway and that would generate more income for the oil companies and, of course, a Liberal government through more taxes.
Like I said, it just doesn’t seem to matter what the policy is with Liberals, it’s always going to cost you and me more money.
On the environment, they were united. Only the Liberal Party cares about protecting it. The fact that the Liberals ignored implementation of the Kyoto Accord they signed while in government seems to be a bit of history this group of leadership hopefuls is unaware. They also successfully avoided the fact that greenhouse gas emissions actually rose substantially during their tenure in power.
Willful ignorance is bliss.
On the economy, their policies don’t appear to be much different than those of the current Conservative government although it was difficult to be really clear about that because there was an absence of real policy proposals put on the table.
Surprisingly, they talked quite a bit about home ownership and while none of the candidates actually had a strategy most announced that it would be a priority to develop one to deal with the issue. All nine candidates were big on making things a national priority once they were elected Prime Minister.
Almost all of them would initiate a program to make home ownership more accessible in some way or another which means that they haven’t yet come to the realization that nobody is owed home ownership. Nor have they figured out that the easiest way to make home ownership more accessible is to let taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned income.
I confess I didn’t pick up every word in the debate, my eyes kept glazing over and my ears started to hurt from the constant, self-serving droning the candidates substituted for meaningful dialogue.
One candidate, George Takach felt it necessary to tell us that he was the son of Hungarian immigrants, as if that was a prerequisite criteria for leadership. Surprisingly, none of the candidates claimed to be of aboriginal descent or members of the Idle No More Movement – another missed opportunity.
Even Maggie, who almost never has a negative word to say about anyone, started muttering under her breath – and when Maggie starts to mutter under her breath, she’s annoyed. I know this because I’ve been the target of a fair amount of Maggie-muttering although for the life of me, I can never fully figure out why.
What the Liberals trotted out yesterday was a group of folks who engaged in the illusion of a debate, just one more Liberal charade that was about as inspiring and stimulating as a conversation with a Bell Canada customer service representative.
You would have thought that the Liberals would have learned a thing or two since they got spanked in the last election, especially since they’ve had almost two years to figure it out, but apparently not. It’s just more of the same old thing; try to please everyone, talk a lot but say nothing and put all of the blame on everyone else, especially Stephen Harper. In other words, it was just a sorry repeat of the same old bad habits that reduced the Liberal Party to third-party status in the first place.
But then – I guess the old adage is true; it’s easier to develop good habits than it is to break bad ones.
As I said, I had intended to write about the Liberal leadership debate today but there was really nothing to write about so I’m not going to bother.
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