Sunday, October 15, 2006

Liberal Leadership Death Tussle Debate

The party is having what I believe to be its final round of debate among the leadership candidates. Unfortunately, so far as I can tell, it is only on English-language TV, which means that each time a candidate starts speaking some sort of French, we hear only the translators.

The format is bizarre - a series of questions debated by three candidates chosen oddly in various ways. It deos not seem random as the foreign policy question featured Rae and Ignatieff.

It remains fun! Some strong passion between Ignatieff and Dion about the environment - Dion is just wonderful defending the track record of the old government. Ignatieff has brought forward a carbon tax, and argues for it again, and Dion takes the tack of saying they had carbon ceilings planned already, and by the way, Ignatieff, you were not there. Ignatieff is not afraid to say, 'and WE did nothing'. (Daming the failure and taking responsibility as a Liberal.)

Dion also wonderful at implicitly attacking Rae's Ontario deficits. Rae responds with sensible arguments about the state of the economy at the time but it is clear the knife is penetrating.

On foreign policy - they set off Rae, Ignatieff, and Hall-Finley, who started off arguing for 'prevention' - apparently we prevent warfare and violence. Ignatieff focussed on human rights and complained that Harper's approach in Afghanistan was incomplete. (Note he does not atack a Liberal.) Missed Rae as my cat was having an injection. 'The whole fiber of our being is how to get people who think differently to live together', says Rae - well that sure was not the world I grew up in! Nobody has much useful to say about what the goals in Afghanistan might be - Hall-Finley tries to say, and then stops, that we maybe should duck and run first (among NATO), but then realizes that is not a good thing to say. Ignatieff catches it and points out your voice is empty without commitment. Rae says we should ask for the other NATO countries to get killed more than Canadians. Ahh - now he decides we should focus on the border with Pakistan. Rae says we should be 'careful'. Ignatieff catches the inconsistencies and says Rae does not have a position, which seems obvious. Rae fires back a snotty barb about other issues this week. Ignatieff is upset (the old friendship come and the hurt from what has become of it). Hall-Finley tells us all to be friends again.

Now a question for Dion, Dyrden, and Brison about gun control and the Dawson College shootings.

It strikes me just now that the questions come from a very managerial position (not surprising given the state of journalistic education in the country, I suspect). Dryden admits he can do stupid things and would not want to have a gun around when he has an urge. (Not sure whether he just wants to register his gun or not have one.) But he agrees many have no problems owning guns. This is a hopeless farce. They all know the gun registry is useless but what a terrible point to give Harper. Dryden says most people he talks to think the registry works. Makes me wonder who he talks to. Brison says the police use the registry a lot (not to stop random shootings) - proposes small bureaucratic changes. He wants to ban handguns! And that the government spend lots of money educating people with long guns. Dion is brilliant again - he cuts the internal debate off and proposes a common position against Harper. Slick. He is really impressing me (despite his managerial tendencies). Dryden and Brison do not take it up. Well, I don't see how either of them can win anyway sowhat does it matter.) Dion, brilliantly, says, "Yes Harper is awful, but ... (paraphrase) victims deserve more respect." I miss a lot but Brison does not want Canadians pressed against one another thing crime is out of control. Well so long as it exists it is and I want to be pitted against the criminals.

So now Rae, Kennedy, and Volpe on culture. Aargh. I have no sympathy to any government role here and the question asserts that the government is vital. BS. Question is sad - should government continue to rule content in media (surely it does not really), on internet (surely not). CRTC may play a role - tricky whether that is the government. OK Kennedy believes in censorship (what I think got asked). Sad - he seems OK if maybe a bit too managerial - but he is now a way over my limit. Volpe is witty - "surely I am not the right guy to ask this question?" OTOH he is also for censorship. This is appalling and the thing I most dislike about Canada. Rae - of course we should have a policy for federal control of communication? YES. Aarrgghhh. Moreover, any useful cultural institution in the country requires a federal role - my God, this is sad. The feds should protect children on the Internet. This is pathetic. Nothing further was worth recording - it was the usual nonsense about controlling what gets put on the airwaves internally. Exception - Hmm - actually Kennedy wants to tell the ENTIRE Canadian story - well, this has pretty much been solved today, and I don't see the Feds as helping at all. Unless maybe he wants to FORCE me every morning to hear the voices he thinks I should hear rather than just go pick on my own, which is what I like. Rae at least points out that the world of 2 channels is gone, and he sees that this world is wildly open. But he still for some reason wants to support large organizations? Why? Volpe talks about the Cultural Renaissance and I fear I must admit I giggle. Fortunately there is no more time.

My God - each of them gets a final statement!

Hall-Finley - forgettable Liberal stuff. She is attractive in many ways as a candidate but not in any way I would vote for.

Dion - attacks Harper. Loves being out of Afghanistan and into Kyoto. Hates Bush. Fatuous rhetoric about jails and the Middle East. I am disappointed as I liked him in the debate portions but he is playing to the worst of the Liberals now. He focusses on his loyalty to whatever Liberal positions might be construed to be. He impresses me and sickens me with this summary. Slick dig against bot h Ignatieff and rae as newcomers to the party. But now just slick - no content that matters for me.

Kennedy - proud to be here. Wonder how decent his French is. does half a sentence. Now decides to broach the reform of the Liberal party? Huh? What does he mean? He says pretty much nothing. Says bad things about Stephen Harper. We should become the first international country? Hmm is there not the US? Useless summary - essentially no content. Party will be different. No hint of exactly how. I like the guy but he sounds neutered.

Dryden - likes travelling. We give him inspiration. Aarrgghh. Loves air and water, rocks and trees. Tihs is really bad. Sports!! Yes - it is Dryden. We are desperate for a company worthy of us. Well no. The AIADS Conference??????? Chretien also did not go the the opening of his AIDS conference. This is not a good start. He clearly has not invested much in a research team. He hates Bush. He loves Canada. Well, I never expected much of him so it is not as sad as hearing Kennedy.
Ooopps he goes on. And is challenging harper on hockey history? Ahh - Philadelphia was wrong for hockey as Harper must be now. This is so sickening. Is htis the best this party can do?
Dryden says they won 4 striaght back then. I guarantee Dryden ain't winning.

Brison - such a great sense of humour - can play the gay role beautifully. Appealing but just not a player. Makes the fascinating point that the economy did not play directly in any discussion, and he goes back to the Chretien-Martin control of the deficit. At least he is not a total idiot like Dryden. Postions himself between Layton's economic ignorance and Harper's environmental ignorance. Not quite clownish, say, in the way Dryden was.

Ignatieff - plays the role being a Liberal - and argues for McGunity to win in Ontario! Against Harper - he is for hope (this is of course the managerial probelm - generally - it is a forlorn hope). Describes dreams (not sure what any have to do with any policies he has). We want pure air and clean water. Argues for human rights abroad, in Afghanistan, darfur, etc. Good for him. And he says he wants to lead the country - because he wants us to be picked as one of the best countries in many areas. Nice job. And he insists we are not there and we must help him.

Volpe - give him a chance - he was a Pier 21 immigrant. Wants his dreams fulfilled. Also - build for tomorrow! We build Canada thinking forward, and we come from all over the world, and that is great. Shocked he had to defend his integrity (no comment). Got into some wild Middle East process of love thing. I lost him.

Rae - good applause. Jokes that his NDP work helped the Liberals in the past. Poked at Sundin's successes last night. Asks for help to bring down Harper as part of a government that knows what it stands for. Wants candid sorting out of past differences. Mentions prosperity, opportunity, an independent foreign policy (bashes Bush along the way).
Asserts experience to lead from the centre.
Argues he has a handle on the unity of the country.
Insubstantial but not bad.

Now a Q&A

Nope that seems the public part of this show done.

Overall impression:

Everybody believes way too much in the effectiveness of regulation, and the ability of politicians like themselves to put together policies that won't have worse effects than the good ones they might. This is an occupational disease of a politician, but particularly of this party. Which is a specialist in selling regulation to parts of the population for votes.

As for individuals:

Brison - sharp and witty. But not a concern for now.

Dryden - how can he speak French so poorly? My vague recollections is that he was the goalkeeper for the Montreal Canadians for years (many of which I was out of the country, so maybe it is another Ken Dryden.)

Volpe - nevermind.

Brison - witty, appealing, but he just vaguely does not strike me as enough.

Rae - smart guy but why does he believe all this managerial nonsense after his total failures?
This is added later after the discussions as he came through the scrum. I can see Ignatieff's point, his frustration at Rae's unwillingness to take him seriously at least publicly on foreign policy. And Rae just added to it and joked about it more. Rae was long my second candidate in this, but I am not sure I can hold on. Despite idiotic economic policy I know Ignatieff is leaning to. Wow might I become a Brison guy? Well, I have not voted Liberal in years. But Rae appears to me to being far more cynical than I could have accepted.

Ignatieff - problem he has is he has the odd principle, however open to compromise. It may make him unacceptable for this party, which has a lot of difficulty with such a concept as principle.

Hall-Finley - appealing but as my sister once pointed out, appears not to have much in the way of principle.

Kennedy - wow, it would be wild if he wins this.


At 1:26 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Great account Al...actually better than being there (not as painful). Thankfully I watched this as I was making beer and didnt see the whole thing.


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