An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT SEEMED like a good idea — disallowing three-way debates and threatening to cut off leaders’ microphones if they tried speaking over each other.
But they spoke over each other anyway, and tonight’s (April 26, 2017) televised leaders’ debate wasn’t much different than any other afternoon Question Period in The Ledge — avoid answering a question from an opponent, then talk about the other party’s supposedly dismal record on any topic under the sun.
This debate was more noteworthy for small annoyances than it was for major insights.
For example, if Christy Clark talks about “the kids” one more time, it will be way past one time too many. She brings “the kids” into her comments so often that you want to reach through the TV set or the radio and not-so-politely tell her to put a sock in it.
Just as tiring is the constant reference to the NDP’s record when it was in government during the 1990s.
And could she please stop saying “wanna”, “lotta” and “gotta” in every sentence? See what I mean? Petty annoyances.
No more annoying than Andrew Weaver of the Greens with his attempts to bait NDP leader John Horgan, though. After Horgan demonstrated an occasional short fuse in last week’s radio debate, Weaver thought he’d try using it against him on TV.
“Are you going to lose your temper with me now?” he asked Horgan when the NDP leader strongly disagreed with what Weaver was saying.
“Are you gonna get mad at me, too, now?” he asked later.
“Oh, come on, man,” a frustrated Horgan muttered.
Weaver was aided and abetted by moderator Jennifer Burke, who asked Horgan if he had an anger management problem, to which Horgan replied, “No, of course not,” and said he was simply passionate about issues.
Clark used the alleged anger issue quite effectively, politicizing the softwood lumber crisis and stressing the need for a calm leader to deal with it — one who doesn’t lose his/her temper. She didn’t have to use Horgan’s name.
But it’s good to know that all three parties now want to make life more affordable for us. The NDP started using the phrase a couple of weeks ago, and it sounded so good that both Clark and Andrew Weaver of the Greens are now using it, and often.
If anybody benefited from the format, it was Weaver, who played a much more prominent part in this debate than in the radio version because he didn’t have to fight for air time against his two, more polished opponents. Besides which, a lot of people who had no idea who he is will now recognize him. But his “I’m not a politician” bit quickly wore thin, as did his attempts to pull a Gordon Wilson by painting Horgan and Clark as squabblers and himself as the reasonable man in the middle.
All three parties, of course, will say, and probably believe, their leader “won.” Fact is, none of them won, but none lost, either.
We can be thankful this was the second and last leaders’ debate, and that we can now get back to trying to figure out party promises on our own, because the debates have added almost nothing to our knowledge of which party and which leader is the best choice.