All times Mountain. Here we go!
Interesting set-up for the set tonight and (presumably) tomorrow - rather than the tried-and-true podiums, we're going with a round table, for an intimate discussion. Should be... well, no, it still won't be exciting. Should be borderline watchable, though.
Come on, let's get this party started! On with Pander-fest 2008!
Interesting point... 85% of French-speakers in this country live in Quebec. However, there are large Francophone populations in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, and New Brunswick. Too bad those Francophones aren't going to have anything said directly to THEM tonight, as each leader will no doubt talk "directly to Quebecers".
Moderator got right to the economy. I understand we're going to be hearing a lot about that tonight.
No closing statements? How is Liz supposed to tell everyone to vote for their local Liberal?
"Canada is not the United States." DEEP. Think we'll hear the other leaders sieze on that idea over tonight and tomorrow's debate? Gilles is taking notes.
Stephane says he can start to fix the economy in 30 days.
Liz launches her first attack on Harper, and it's on the ECONOMY. Interesting.
There's our first Harper/Bush mention, courtesy of Gilles. DRINK!
Jack is telling Mr. Bourassa what he wants, needs, and thinks. Interesting tactic.
About your RRSP's, gang... have anything left to retire on?
Stephen hasn't checked his. But we're not as screwed as the U.S.
Jack thinks he's in a classroom, and Stephen's in love with the sound of his own voice. Layton scores some points, and there's our second Bush/Harper reference. DRINK!
So far, this format is a godawful mess. Especially with the translators, I have no earthly idea who's saying what.
Dion keeps shaking his head - there'd better be a good rebuttal to Harper's point when Dion speaks again.
Duceppe attacks Harper for favouring Alberta oil companies over Ontario and Quebec companies.
Liz is a woman and single mother. If you have ovaries, you have to vote for her. She's quoting from reports that suggest Harper's policies are putting the economy of Canada at risk. There's our first "TARsands" blast. Did she just suggest it was BAD that we lost jobs in the forestry sector? She wants MORE people cutting down trees?
Oil's going for how much a barrel, and Duceppe is saying that Harper is keeping them afloat?
Dion looks serious and/or pissed off. He's repeating his '30 days' pledge to fix the economy.
Layton looks like he's talking to a 6 year-old when talking to Dion, and like he's talking to a criminal when talking to Harper. Tells you who he takes seriously... At least he's talking about real policy ideas.
May is handling herself all right in the rapid-fire French - she's not in on everything, but she doesn't seem to be all THAT hesitant, which was the worry going in for her.
You can almost hear "Don't worry, be happy" playing in the background when Harper talks about the state of the Canadian economy.
"Would you consider running a deficit?"
"That's what we're headed for with Mr. Harper".
There's our first Iraq mention! Award it to Dion!
Layton's going to freeze the taxes of companies. That mean no RAISING them, Jack?
Duceppe is still really going after the oil companies thing - seems to be trying to paint Harper as being in the pocket of Big Oil.
"We're in a surplus, we've cut taxes, shut up and give me my majority."
Could we nationalize the oil industry, to get a break at the pumps? It's OUR gas, after all... so says the questioner.
Dion says we should use less gas. Not sure if that answers the question.
May answers it quickly. "The Green Party is not in favour of nationalization". Give her points for answering the question.
Duceppe thinks the oil companies are bad, but doesn't want to nationalize them, because then Ottawa might come after Hydro Quebec. Tax credits for taxi drivers, farmers, fishermen. AGAIN with tax cuts for oil companies.
Jack goes right after Harper - "we suggested this, and this, and this, you did nothing. you have no plan."
Harper: We cut the GST, laid charges for price fixing, but it's the international market that sets prices. Translation: When hell freezes over, we'll nationalize.
Dion makes a good point, but I'm not sure what it is... prices are going to keep going up, so we need to tax carbon...
Duceppe thinks Kyoto will reduce our dependence on oil... not sure how that works.
AGAIN with attacking Alberta from Duceppe.
Liz says that cutting the GST didn't stimulate the economy, then backhands Harper with "that's another idea he's stolen from Mr. Howard in Australia..." NICE shot.
It's on the record: "The NDP does not support an increase to the GST". Layton is doing extremely well here attacking Harper's position.
Harper: "We've spent $7 Billion on alternative energy research... I don't agree on new taxes for consumers to punish people".
May just suggested Harper was stupid. Careful, Liz... moderator warning to stay on-topic, as well.
"Every country that has used a Green Shift is richer than the ones that haven't". So, they're all G8 Countries, then? Not many countries are richer than Canada, which HASN'T green-shifted.
Listeriosis. Oh, boy. Who gets the shot in first?
Interesting allegation from Duceppe about inspection frequency. Fact check, anyone? BRUTAL, if true.
"Inspectors were cut by the previous (Martin) government". First buck-passing of the night from Harper - a lot later than I expected.
Dion coming across as a hot-head, beaking off at the moderator.
This is all coming apart.
Liz runs to Stephane's aid.
"Are you ready to make a commitment to start an independent organization to make recommendations on the environment?" - so says the questioner.
May - No. We don't need another beaurocracy, we need a caring government. We don't have tim to create another agency - is an asteroid coming?
"All we need is Kyoto" - Duceppe. STILL attacking Alberta, and now throwing Saskatchewan under the bus as well.
Layton says they tried to bring in scientific-based targets, but the Cons ignored them.
Harper talking about the environment his children will have to grow up in. "We created a plan - a plan is different that just setting targets".
Dion's loving the question. "We were the heroes of climate change". Seems comfortable now that we're on the environment.
The only thing Duceppe is loving more than attacking the West is using the term "Laissez Faire" in connection to Harper.
Harper looks trapped on the environment issue.
May said Harper was lying. Lying, and stupid. REAL parliamentary language, Liz.
Harper says "we can't change the greenhouse gas emissions of the past". Was anyone unclear on that?
Layton scores another Harper/Bush connection. DRINK!
May keeps harping on Harper. "Don't understand the issue".
Dion says, for the second time tonight, they'll reduce taxes on things that generate revenue. Like, say, drilling for oil?
Harper's completely outnumbered on this one. He's taking fire from all sides, and looks like it. He's sitting back, and letting the other parties fight to score the most enviro-points against him - he knows the environmental votes aren't going to him, anyway.
"We gave Quebec $350 Million to support their environmental plan." - Harper
May again goes with the "This isn't my opinion, this is the opinion of someone better qualified than me" defence again. Stephen Harper is going to destroy the planet if we don't stop him - NOW. She says he doesn't understand, or that he's not paying attention.
Harper: We HAVE a plan, people worked hard on this, these targets are the same as the targets other countries have set.
Dion says Harper doesn't believe in climate change.
On governance: Could you tell us one good word about the opponent to your left?
Duceppe: "Ms. May attacked Stephen Harper".
Layton: "Dion is a professor, like me. He's honest, he's intelligent."
Harper: "I can say good things about Jack, despite our differences. We've worked together on issues where we have agreed. Quebec nation, Residential schools apology, accountability act - despite our differences, you're honest."
Dion: "I think Mr. Duceppe does his best to help Quebecers".
May on Harper (THIS should be interesting): "I found that Mr. Harper was very strong when dealing with issues where we share concerns. I think you're a good father, your kids are lovely, and I think that your efforts for Canada are based on your principles." She looks like she's breaking up with Steve...
Duceppe: On behalf of Quebecers, I have to represent all of the consensuses... even the ones from the National Assembly, when it's run by Liberals?
Jack tells a story about his Grandfather, who was in Quebec's national assembly, so Quebecers should vote for him... First Ed Broadbent reference of the evening.
May segues Broadbent reference to a statement on public SERVICE...
Dion: "You have to listen to people and reach a consensus..."
Harper: "I agree..." WHAAAA-? "When you're the government, you have to reach decisions." Ah, THERE'S our Stephen...
Dion on the offensive over Harper labelling people as political opponents. Mentions the Sparrow incident as part of a pattern.
Harper: "You said, Mr. Dion, that the medical association said something, and that's not true."
Dion: "Okay, let's talk about something else..."
Duceppe accuses Harper of showing disdain for democracy, because he doesn't respect the democratic outcome of a vote. "Ethnics and women", anyone?
Coalition Government issue comes up.
Layton: We can do a coalition. Harper can't. Scores big points again against Harper's record.
Harper: You're full of it, Jack. I'm not saying I'm perfect, but I've led a weak minority government for 2 years - obviously, from time to time, we worked together.
Crime: "Why hasn't parliament done anything to ban semi-automatic weapons like the ones used (at Dawson College). Will you do anything about this?"
Layton: Ban them, and give the provinces the power to ban handguns in the streets, help yonug people find more peaceful paths to take.
Harper: We've invested for better checks on gun owners. The weapons classifications that were in place we the previous (Martin) government's. Most crimes are with illegal weapons, and that's another issue. WEAK answer.
Dion: We'll prohibit this weapon - it's a military weapon, it's only meant to be used to kill people. We'll also implement the firearm registry.
May: It really is possible to work together to ban handguns and semi-automatic weapons. There's no reason for anyone to have a handgun or semi-automatic weapon.
Duceppe: Another Harper-Bush connection. DRINK. He's putting 14 to 16 year-olds in jail with adults...
Harper: We're talking about repeat offenders, not scuffles in the school. Extremely violent cases. We need to have as much compassion for victims as for criminals.
Duceppe is hammering this idea of Harper wanting to "train young criminals" - is he arguing mercy for youth killers?
May says judges can already levy heavy sentences, and accuses Harper of creating an imaginary crisis and fearmongering (THAT'S a laugh).
Dion says crime is dropping every year. Tell that to Calgary.
Harper: We have a platform (stricter penalties/investment in prevention), and it's our intention to govern according to our mandate.
Layton: We'll defeat the government, and force another election, if Harper tried to push through their crime agenda.
Dion: The provinces will have to invest $2 Billion in building new prisons if the Cons get their way.
May: I find it ironic that Mr. Harper is talking about obeying laws...
Dion: The entire country should follow the lead of Regina, Saskatchewan when it comes to fighting crime. Yeah, that ought to take care of that little gang problem in Quebec...
Cultural Identity: "Quebecers form a nation within a united Canada. In concrete terms, what does this mean for me? Will there be any real power for Quebec?"
Harper: I want to mention my aprpeciation that Quebecers were very understanding and compassionate with my learning of French over the past years. We've given Quebec a place at UNESCO, we've given the CRTC more powers to protect Quebec and Francophones...
Dion: We were also recognized as part of a Canadian nation - this is a problem for Mr. Duceppe, not for me.
May: I think that Quebec is unique in the world. It's part of what makes Canada so rich. We need to talk about the other nations in Canada. What about Aboriginal rights?
Duceppe: There SHOULD be legal consequences - we want control over our own affairs. Quebec doesn't have a SEAT at UNESCO, it can only speak if the Canadian delegation gives it a green light.
Layton: It's the right of Quebecers to use French. If we cut culture and the arts, we make things worse in Quebec and harm the Quebec nation. Mr. Harper attacked artists.
Harper: We increased funding by 8%. I support the arts and culture. What we're talking about here is recognizing the Quebec nation, and only the Bloc fought it - Gilles, you denounced me, and opposed the idea for 2 days - Quebecers forced you to change your position.
Duceppe: You apologized to me right before the election blah blah blah you hurt my feelings I'm going to keep talking about something nobody in the world except for me cares about.
Dion mentions the revelation that, in fact, there are French Canadians outside of Quebec.
May: 16 arts programs died last spring - funding to the department went up, but they're not going to the artists.
Harper: Artists work hard, but we have to recognize it's hard to see a gala, government subsidized, yet hear them cry poor.
Layton: Most of the artists in Canada live in poverty. Only the NDP has made suggestions to increase their income.
Harper: We've announced a tax credit for arts lessons.
Dion: We should be stimulated by our artists.
Duceppe says the arts budget went down by $17 Million, and that a Tory cabinet minister said it was due to ideaology - not a very likely quote.
Layton: We want to increase cultural funding for Quebec.
May: Only France and Quebec want to talk about climate change.
Stephane Dion doesn't have a watch.
Healthcare: What are you going to do to help healthcare?
Dion: The average Canadian doctor is 50. We need more, younger doctors. We need a federal fund, consistent with provincial jurisdiction, to help the provinces add doctors.
May: Health means physical, mental and social well-being. We have to protect Canada's public system. We have to protect and implement a better system - increase funding in mental health areas - and ban dangerous chemicals.
Duceppe: We need to stop federal intrusions, and Quebec should be able to opt out with full funding. If the feds would provide affordable housing and inspect food and give seniors what the deserve...
Layton: We've had a shortage for decades - now it's a crisis. 5 million Canadians don't have a family doctor. We've suggested trianing more than 20,000 more doctors and 6,000 more nurses each year.
Harper: We have to work with the provinces. We fixed the fiscal imbalance. (Answered what WOULD you with what we've ALREADY done - DRINK!)
Wasn't this supposed to be over at 7:30?
Layton: You chose tax cuts for banks rather than training for doctors.
Harper: I lowered taxes by $200 Million. To ensure stability. We're creating jobs, still have a surplus, our banks are still in business...
Duceppe: Quebec needs more money. There's still a fiscal imbalance. Quebec is still at the mercy of Ottawa.
Dion: Health is important. We'll help the provinces get more nurses and more doctors, but you also have to help the regions - if we refund $10,000 of student debt when new doctors agree to work in the regions...
Harper: We can't dictate results, this is provincial jurisdiction.
May: But you promised lower wait times during the last election (Oh, SNAP!). Mr. Harper led the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, whose job was to destroy the public health system (huh?)
Layton: We propose to eliminate the debt for each physician who commits to working as a family physician for 10 years...
Dion: What about provincial drug plans?
Duceppe: SHUT UP. We're talking about something that isn't our business - this is a provincial issue. Gilles is taking a hard stand - not surprising, but still effective.
One theme left... Canada on the world stage. Cue the Harper/Bush comparisons...
May: Harper is withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2011 - and this is a bad idea. It's not working, the Americans are screwing it up, we need to be out now.
Duceppe: We'd be in Iraq right now if Harper had his way. We could have pulled out in 2009 if not for Layton.
Layton: Our position was to pull out yesterday. As you well know, Gilles. We're proposing that we want to take our rightful place - we've lost our role in the world. Only 20 Canadian soldiers are on UN peace-keeping missions right now.
Harper: I'm the first Prime Minister to have votes in the House BEFORE sending troops somewhere - the Liberals sent troops into Afghanistan without asking the House. We're committed to staying until 2011, we're training Afghan forces, and we'll leave in 2011.
Dion: If I thought we were invading, we'd want to be out now. We're proud of our troops. We have a role to play with NATO - we'll do what we can to help the Afghan people.
Dion: Harper stole a speech from the Australian Prime Minister. That has something to do with Karzai wanting to negotiate with the Taliban.
Harper: This isn't new. President Karzai is looking for political reconciliation rather than debating with weapons.
Layton: When we suggested negotiating, you attacked us with George Bush's words (DRINK!!)
May: The Afghan government has many problems, and President Karzai has problems because the NATO mission caused civilian deaths - so we have to work towards peace, and you cannot achieve peace without dialogue. It's potentially a very positive development.
Duceppe: This is up to the Afghan government. It's not up to us to tell them how to do it. Bush/Harper want war (DRINK!)
Layton: If I become Prime Minister, we'll withdraw troops immediately and use that money to increase our foreign aid.
Harper: Our mission in Afghanistan isn't purely military, it's humanitarian - it's a UN mission, in conjunction with most of the western world.
Dion: Mr. Layton will never be Prime Minister. We made a commitment - our allies and the Afghans are counting on us. By the way, Steve-o, how much did the mission cost?
Layton: The difference between you and I, Stephane, is that when I see we're on the wrong path, I'm willing to change direction.
Dion: I have a sense of responsibility.
Harper: During Dion's leadership, Canada's GHG emissions increased by 35%.
I think Liz is going to cry over the attack on Dion.
Duceppe: You criticized them back then for doing too MUCH.
May: you're a FRAUD, Harper.
Harper: It's the government that gives the soldiers the equipment they need. When you send them into Kandahar, they need to have the right equipment, and the Liberals said they'd cut those.
Debate over. May ran away from Harper like he had smallpox - at least Dion and Layton spoke with each other.