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On the debate
Re Flurry Of Attacks But No Knockouts In Chaotic Debate (Oct. 8) and What Voters Learned From The Debate (Editorial, Oct. 8): Your editorial rightly points out the sham of televised debates. Far from being actual debates, this national exposure has always been used by the candidates to look good, to attack the others, to avoid being specific on policy – and to move on.
As you put it: “For undecided voters, the decision will have to come down to meatier stuff – each party’s platform, and its record.” Amen to that.
Chris Marriott Chelsea, Que.
A question missing from the leaders’ debate on Monday night was one that continues to stymie me every time I listen to party leaders during this election campaign: Why do they not answer the actual question asked, but instead, quickly regress to their own talking points, showing little respect for the questioner? It also seems apparent that the leaders have little regard for the voters’ intelligence, imagining that no one will notice the lack of a cogent answer.
Trust us, leaders: We notice.
Martha Lapp Huntsville, Ont.
After the leaders’ debate, what worries me most is how American it seems we have become. Candidates are pushing for more airtime by talking over each other with personal attacks. Then there was a bevy of promises made, often with no basis in reality, especially from the second-tier candidates with nothing to lose. And how do we manage climate change realistically, when some leaders won’t even entertain a rebatable carbon tax?
There must be a more thoughtful and meaningful approach to help citizens decide who has earned our vote.
Carol Victor Burlington, Ont.
U.S. presidential candidates – as reprehensible as many of them can be – have learned how to take turns answering questions. Even the egregious Donald Trump allowed Hillary Clinton to speak when it was her turn during debates in 2016. Why do Canadian politicians insist on talking over each other throughout the debate? It was a pointless fiasco. –Conservative For Life
As I listened to the leaders’ debate, I marvelled at the high quality of policy discussions underway on such a wide array of topics that affect Canadians: climate change, Indigenous rights, pharmacare, clean energy and our place in the world. If Justin Trudeau, Jagmeet Singh and Elizabeth May could run our country together, we would be the envy of the world.
JoAnn Breitman Toronto
On the format
Like so many others that came before, the debate debacle is more Question Period than reasoned debate. Note to future broadcasters: Since politicians seem to find it impossible to control their political passions, have the broadcast booth control the microphones. Please!
David Lavender Winnipeg
A gong show is a fit description of the leaders’ debate. Would it not be better if, rather than a gang-up slog-fest, moderators separately grilled leaders about their policies, giving them no room to ignore questions? Asking how each leader would co-operate with rival parties would have been of interest.
Cheryl McNamara Toronto
It is already being said that the big losers in the debate are Canadian voters in general. True, and the loss should be laid at the feet of whoever designed this format in the first place.
Six shouting politicians and five interlocutors – what could go wrong? Perhaps they could have used a lion tamer with a whip.
Perry Bowker Burlington, Ont.
On the audience
The median age of Canadians, according to Statistics Canada, is 40.8 years. It appeared there was hardly anyone older than that in the attending audience of the leaders’ debate, and certainly none visible standing behind the frequent framing of the moderators.
Those of us older than 40 – much more than half of all eligible voters – need to exercise our numbers and vote for how our country should be run.
Mike Priaro Calgary
My takeaway on last night’s debate was how we can possibly stay together as a country.
The West must be furious that the Bloc Québécois gets a stage to pontificate on the rights of the nation of Quebec. Yves-François Blanchet’s intractable opposition to an energy corridor going through Quebec must have made Albertan’s blood boil. There was no discussion about interprovincial trade, a major obstacle to national prosperity. The Maritimes and Atlantic Canada were also left out of every speaker’s script. Easterners must feel devastated.
Our country needs a new electoral system to save us from ourselves. Perhaps proportional representation? –Humble Harvey
No one “won” this debate.
Actually, I found the whole event depressing. I’m left with the picture of Andrew Scheer, who I’d thought of until now as at least a decent person leading a hard-nosed party, as being ugly and aggressive in his personal attacks on Justin Trudeau.
I’m remembering Jagmeet Singh as seeming comfortable and sincere, but he has nothing to lose and everything to gain, so it was easier for him, really. At least he didn’t seem out to be destructive toward anyone.
But no one was respectful of anyone else, really. I think that’s what bothers me. It’s as though we require our leaders to treat each other hatefully and cheer them on and speak of knockout blows.
There was something really degrading about this evening, for all of us, in my opinion. –Judith M.
In my mind, the debate was embarrassing for Canadians across the country. Is this really the best leadership Canada has to offer? How about putting Canada and Canadians first by introducing solid policies which benefit the country, not the party?
As a party agnostic, I’m getting really close to going and spoiling my vote on election day. At least the record would then show that I didn’t approve of any of the options presented. –BDABJ
I am a 72-year-old Canadian, who is fortunate enough to have been to every province and territory of Canada, and have lived in most of them. Hell, I even have the maple leaf tattooed on my chest. With that in mind, the leaders’ debate left me with a deep sense of foreboding for the unity of this country.
The Liberals, Green Party and NDP all seem committed to the destruction of Canada’s oil and gas sector. The country’s economy is resource-based, yes, and it is driven by carbon-based fuels. But this will be the case until it is cost-viable to use alternate forms of energy.
I do realize that we need to be more aware and protective of our environment, but this has to be an entire human endeavour, not just a Canadian responsibility. Why is it okay for foreign oil to be transported up and down our waterways, with a greater risk of pollution, but not okay to more safely pipeline domestic oil to our own markets?
To me, it makes no sense for the majority of Canadian political parties to alienate the oil-producing provinces, which includes Newfoundland and Labrador, to the detriment of the entire country’s future prosperity – and possibly its unity.
Charles Watch Calgary
During the leaders’ debate, an interviewee stated that she is looking for a leader who can provide her with a better, easier life. Perhaps the politicians should address the elephant in the room: that fighting climate change is going to require a lifestyle change from every one of us.
It should be acknowledged that how Canadians live results in the creation of greenhouse gases, through activities such as home heating, global transportation of goods and people, and consumption of red meat. But no one wants to hear that.
Louise Kolanko Toronto
How utterly dismissive of the sixth candidate on that stage last night. Let the boys duke it out and ignore entirely the lone woman who was talking clear common sense? I may or may not vote for her party, but Elizabeth May was definitely worth a mention.
Linda Mather Elora, Ont.
After 20 minutes of that mindless exchange between our political leaders, I wondered about Canadian democracy and switched off.
Our system is flawed. The Globe and Mail’s latest Nanos numbers find Elizabeth May’s Green Party polling at 10 per cent. That should mean, in any real democracy, that they count at least 33 seats in Parliament, instead of the current two. One could go on.
Duncan Graham Vancouver
I liked it when Andrew Scheer scolded Justin Trudeau for buying the Trans Mountain Pipeline, stating that $4.5-billion could have been better spent on health care, and that it was money that went to an American interest in Kinder Morgan. Earth to Mr. Scheer: Once it is built, we should expect a nice profit by either selling it or running it. –slug1953
A quick survey of last night’s debate stage highlighted the unenviable all-or-nothing reality facing Andrew Scheer. Charged with forming a minority government, where could he conceivably turn for partners?
While some may consider Mr. Scheer’s desert island gamble to be principled, to this Canadian, he appears to be simply out of touch.
Farley Helfant Toronto
Editorial after editorial, along with those who comment on politics, have long complained about the deterioration of Question Period as Canadians receive few answers and accountability from their government. A debate in an election campaign at least allows limited opportunity to see our Prime Minister have to answer for his governments actions for all to see.
Unfortunately, as the editorial points out, the Liberals managed to devise a formula where English Canada had but one opportunity to see Justin Trudeau in action. This government was elected on a promise that they would be open and transparent. Once in office, they seem to have been anything but, and major issues such as the SNC-Lavalin affair have been met with Liberal stonewalling. The one English debate, which shortchanges the majority of Canadians, should be seen in the same light.
If the Liberals are returned to power, the message seemingly sent is they can do what they want with impunity. But hopefully Canadians will have a greater respect for democracy. –JeffSpooner
Hypocritical of Justin Trudeau to complain that there wasn’t a figure for a Conservative plan, when half the Liberal plan isn’t costed either. –JC12345
Anyone voting Liberal or Conservative after that debate (and I’ll count myself in that group) is voting for party policies and not for the opposite-of-inspiring leaders. –Booflette
And the winners are…
Best actor in a starring role: Justin Trudeau
Best actor (and mud-slinger) in a supporting role: Andrew Scheer
Most likeable actor: Jagmeet Singh
Most believable and sincere actor: Elizabeth May
Most intellectual and thoughtful actor: Yves-François Blanchet
Most villainous actor: Maxime Bernier
And perhaps a special award should go to Justin Trudeau, who had the intelligence not to participate in more than one of these circuses in English.
K. M. Peckan Waterloo, Ont.
To heck with policy, this was a bar fight. Maybe the next debate should be hosted by the UFC. –Bob.McK
Comments and letters have been condensed and edited for clarity.
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