Thursday night was the Globe and Mail federal leader’s debate on the economy. It included Tom Mulcair, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. It inexplicably did not include Elizabeth May. What a sham.
It was hosted online and you can watch it back on YouTube, but I’m going to give you my admittedly biased opinion on the main points and key takeaways. ::cracks knuckles:: let’s do this…
- To indicate the end of time a leader got to answer a question, we had a light ding sound which is so adorable I can barely stand it.
- All three leaders seemed like they were just hell bent on getting to their talking points. Meaning essentially that they seemed not to answer the very pointed questions the (terrible) moderator was presenting. That’s depressing because we can read all that on the internet you dopes, tell us something detailed, something concrete, something we like and makes us want to vote for you.
- Trudeau seemed heated, which made him come across juvenile…but then had the unexpected effect of riling up Harper. I’ve rarely seen him so obviously rattled, and it was interesting though it didn’t make me think he gets easily emotionally tumultuous. It was a distracting tactic, if indeed it was a tactic at all. Points landed if so.
- When we talk of Environment and try to marry it to the Economy, you lose average Canadians. We can understand that there’s money tied to environmental decisions, but we can’t grasp how that can change. I don’t know how to solve this divide, where it applies to cap & trade and not directly referring to oil in pipelines.
- The Liberals are admitting straight out of the gates that they’ll run three years of deficits. It’s an odd move, but I kind of like it. They basically say their going to spend on infrastructure and the only way to afford that is to go into some debt. From a practical standpoint, this makes sense to me. I confess to not grasping the long term possible effects of then trying to eek out of three consecutive planned deficits when we manage to get into deficits even without planning and then find it difficult to get out of.
- There was also talk of an Infrastructure Bank which…wut?
- Perhaps one of the more useful pieces of the debate centred around immigration. We of course discussed Syria and refugees, and well we should. There were a few slam dunk points made- one by Mulcair highlighting the job gap for immigrants with foreign degrees we don’t recognize. (This is a problem. We have highly qualified professionals who can’t contribute to our economy in the capacity they should be able to. We don’t recognize their degrees- in medicine, engineering etc- and we lose not only their talents, but their taxes and spending power.) I loved the line from Mulcair aimed at Harper: “Stop using security as an excuse to do nothing.” Because yes. No one is proposing you don’t background check for our national security, there are ways to increase our flow of immigration without compromising the secure way in which we process these would-be Canadians. The fact is, Canada does profit from immigration. We need a smoother system.
- Talk of the long form Census coming back under a Liberal government and YES PLEASE. Who thought less data is better? (I know who.) We can’t make informed long term decisions without the proper data on Canadians. We need the census to tell us where people are living, how they are living, where we could be spending more, where there are gaps in services, surpluses in funding…the lack of that means more guessing games, and that’s expensive and inefficient.
- I suggested on Twitter that future debates include less questions and more opportunity for open discussion. I don’t know if that will prevent all the yelling and talking over each other like belligerent children, but sonofabillygoat you guys…STOP INTERRUPTING EACH OTHER. And stop talking to the camera. It’s weird. I hate it.
- Here’s my major takeaway for Canadians from this economic debate: be very suspicious of a promise to lower taxes. This so rarely happens. And when it does, they get it back in another way. Trudeau is saying the Liberal plan is to raise taxes for the wealthiest 1% (barf, political rhetoric, barf) and lower them for the middle class. Pump the brakes. What will end up happening is that rise in taxes may fly (offering more $$ for infrastructure, he says) but the middle class taxes will not go down. Think of how you run your house: you live up to (or over) your means. The government is no different. If ever there is a time where you were collecting money repeatedly from a source, would you consider it a good idea for your overall economic growth to say to that source: “Nah, I don’t need that.” You wouldn’t. You like those dollars coming in, you’re already spending them yourself. So is the government. They are not giving you back your money now that they already have it.
There were a disappointing few mentions of Aboriginal Canadians, an embarrassing one mention of Veterans, and no mention of our military at all. So. Predictable if not depressing and uninspiring.
My 9 year old daughter asked me to tell her in the morning who won the debate. And I laughed. Because I knew there would be no clear winner, and for me there was not. Their performances were lacklustre and uninspiring. They basically presented their same talking points over and over, trying desperately to weave a new one in to even loosely tied debate points. The debate sold me on no candidate.
I will say it did give me enough information that I can now see where my own personal loyalties lie when it comes to what I want for the economy in our next federal government. So now I can go and read their party platforms and see where they sit on my spectrum of acceptability. I don’t think there are any slam dunks here, but I am thinking I’ll find at least a few points I can attach a possible vote to.