Globe and Mail Leader’s Debate: Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing


As soon as the three federal candidates had uttered their last “zingers” in Thursday night’s Globe and Mail Leaders’ Debate, there was the usual scramble among political pundits to declare who emerged as winner. The real question, however, should have been: why are we even holding these inane affairs?

The whole concept of a true “debate” was noticeably missing last night as Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau repeatedly cut into their opponents attempt to get their points across, childishly talking over and and one-upping each other whenever possible.

David Walmsley, the Globe’s editor-in-chief and moderator, didn’t help matters by repeatedly inserting himself into the fray, with his frequent editorial comments and asking the leaders to repeat themselves if he didn’t feel they answered the question to his liking.

In the end, the usual free-for-all ensued, with leaders shoving in their pre-scripted comments and then yelling, interrupting and smirking until it came time to shave their oars in again. The result was a highly unsatisfying waste of time best summed up by this Calgary Sun headline: “Debate’s Biggest Loser: The Voter

For what it’s worth, here’s a recap of each leader’s best lines from last night (courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen):

Tom Mulcair

  • “Mr. Harper wants to hit the snooze button while Mr. Trudeau wants to hit the panic button.”
  • “Under Stephen Harper’s leadership, we have not built one pipeline to tidewater. Mr. Harper sees the economy and the environment as polar opposites.”
  • “We are going to be a reliable long-term partner for municipalities across the country. We don’t need the short-term thinking of the Liberals.”

Stephen Harper

  • “This is a guarantee to people: that when we have lowered your taxes, they will stay down.”
  • “The core to protecting our economy is making sure that our budgets remain balanced and our taxes remain low.”
  • “The easiest thing to do for anybody else is to come along and say ‘Let’s just spend more.’ ”

Justin Trudeau

  • “Mr. Harper may not see what’s going on from 24 Sussex Drive, but I do. I know Canadians are worried about their jobs.”
  • “We have a prime minister who prefers to pander to fears”
  • Yes we’re going to run modest deficits for the next three years… the economy is flat and Canadians needs jobs.”