View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Debate About Debate During BBQ Season MAY 22, 2015

Dr. EvilNot the most exciting week in Canadian politics. You know that as soon as you see how much space was taken up in the news over who would attend what leader’s debate.

It was interesting to know that Justin Trudeau is already practicing for the October leadership debates. Now what does that say about the man’s abilities?

He needs six months practice to get ready? Why would anyone on the Liberal side want to flag that issue for the media and public at this time? It implies that he isn’t good enough to take on Harper and Mulcair. That indirectly reinforces the Conservative and NDP talk points that Trudeau isn’t ready.

Not only that, but with 6 months of practice, shouldn’t we expect a super performance from him? What if his performance is just average? The Liberals have raised expectations about how good he will be. What happened to under promise and over deliver?

The other danger with debate prep of this sort is that after a period of time, your answers are triggered automatically when you hear certain words in the questions. He will have to be careful that he doesn’t just practice without having the ability to respond to questions that come out of nowhere or which isolate just one part of a larger issue. Parroting answers can get you in trouble.

The latest information points to the Conservatives and NDP trying to limit the participation of the Green Party in the debates. Can one say anti-democratic? But wait New Democrats want to do things differently don’t they? One can see why politically both the NDP and CPC want the Greens kept out but is that serving democracy well? The Greens do have a substantial following and do have policy options to advance. It seems to me that the Greens have the same problem as the old PC Party… few MPs elected because their support is thinly spread across the country instead of concentrated in a few winnable ridings. It still reflects badly on the CPC and NDP. Both parties will have to handle this issue very carefully if they don’t want to come across as arrogant or bullies.

The PM has decided which debates he will attend… and who cares what the others want to do. So far their talk points on doing debates differently aren’t really sinking in or winning too many people over. It’s probably a good thing for the Conservatives that Canadians are dusting off their BBQs and not paying too much attention to what is happening in Ottawa.

Michael Harris had a good article today about how governments defeat themselves. It is worth a read by the public and the Conservatives. Arrogance and entitlement are the hallmark of governments that have been in power for a long time. It doesn’t matter which political party, PMs, ministers and even MPs get complacent and sloppy in how they do things and if the voters detect a whiff of arrogance and entitlement they don’t like it. Governments really do defeat themselves; just ask Paul Martin or Jim Prentice.


  1. “The PM has decided which debates he will attend”….more like which debates to avoid, don’t you think?

    And the other leaders aren’t doing preparation work for the election and / or debates??

  2. It sure looks like the Harper Cons will be going down in flames in October. Almost daily, polls are comming out across the country showing the Cons tanking, the Libs barely staying afloat, and the Dippers soaring. Canadians, even Albertans, have finally woken up. Better late than never.

  3. If Harper avoids, he’ll show his true colours: that he’s afraid. If he shows up, he’ll showcase his true colours: a talent for bullying and bending the truth.

    (Jamie, the print under Leave a Reply is so faint as to be barely legible Can you give it better definition?.)

  4. Author

    working on it PJ 🙂

  5. Jeffrey Simpson nails it in the Globe and Mail today–“Networks without Harper? No problem”

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