How Each Party Leader Shone in Canada’s 2019 Leaders’ Debate (English)

October 7, 2019 by  

Here is how the leaders of the six largest political parties in Canada distinguished themselves during the only English-language leaders’ debate in Canada’s 2019 federal election. In alphabetical order:

Maxime Bernier (People’s Party): The strength of Bernier’s performance laid in the clarity with which it distinguished his party’s positions on globalism, climate, budget, and economy from the positions of the other five parties on-stage. By the end of the debate, one would have to have been quite distracted not to have concluded, with considerable certainty, that

  • whereas Bernier’s People’s Party is for Canadian sovereignty, the other parties are pro-globalism;
  • whereas Bernier’s party does not regard the world to be in the grips of a climate catastrophe and, therefore, would not impose taxes and other measures in an attempt (of unproven efficacy) to fight climate change, all of the other parties believe the world is on the precipice of climate catastrophe and would use government in various attempts to fight Mother Nature;
  • whereas Bernier’s People’s Party would balance the budget, and then introduce tax reforms to reduce and reform income taxes, the other parties refuse to commit meaningfully to balancing the federal budget for the foreseeable future (such that future generations will have to pay the debt);
  • whereas Bernier’s party (with agreement from Elizabeth May’s Greens) is opposed to special status, tax exemptions/credits, and corporate welfare, the other parties are in favour of those things.

Yves-François Blanchet (Bloc Québécois): The strength of Blanchet’s performance was its sheer consistency. He hammered home the theme that the federal government must respect the jurisdiction of the provinces (a theme shared by Maxime Bernier). But, more to the point, he showed utter disdain for Canada…which is appropriate, for a secessionist party leader. At one point, he essentially said that Quebec has no need for Canada at all.

Elizabeth May (Green Party): The strength of May’s performance was in making it patently obvious that May’s Greens believe that the globe is on fire, and that drastic – not just drastic, but “double” the current targets on CO2 reductions – steps must be taken now, or else (I don’t know what…that part’s never very clear, except that it will be, well, “catastrophic”).

Andrew Scheer (Conservative Party):
The strength of Scheer’s performance was that he came loaded with a number of quotable zingers for tomorrow’s newspapers, radio, and TV. He received the only applause offered by the audience when – after Justin Trudeau made a crack about the Ontario provicial government of Doug Ford – he opined that Trudeau seems obsessed with provincial politics, and that he should maybe consider running to fill the vacancy left by Kathleen Wynne after she resigned from the leadership of Ontario’s Liberal Party.

Jagmeet Singh (New Democratic Party): The strength of Singh’s performance was his – from time to time – warmth and likeability on a personal level. This showed most honestly and easily in his responses to being referred to with a name of one of the other party leaders (it happened twice). He came across as a person who could put aside partisanship, at least when it comes to personal interactions.

Justin Trudeau (Liberal Party):
The strength of Trudeau’s performance was that he survived the debate. Let’s face it, Trudeau had a lot to cope with in this debate. He’s the Prime Minister, and his performance over the past four years has been less than stellar. He gave the other five leaders plenty to attack. He got pummeled, especially by May, Scheer, and Singh. I’m not saying he wasn’t injured. I’m not saying he won’t eventually be defeated as a result of this debate. However, he did well enough to limp away from the debate without having been decimated. In boxing terms: he didn’t get knocked out, so much as lose by TKO.

So, there it is, dear reader. My first impressions of the debate, rendered minutes after its ending. I remain reasonably sure that, when I read the newspapers tomorrow, I’ll be left with the impression that their writers and I watched different debates.

{Paul McKeever is the leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario:}


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