French Debate Summary

Paul Martin came off stronger than expected

Gilles Duceppe was very effective and looked comfortable

Jack Layton smiled during every syllable he uttered

Stephen Harper was calm, cool and collected

I don’t believe that anyone in particular won or lost the debate. I expected Paul Martin to stutter and to appear lost. He did not do as badly as expected. Gilles Duceppe looked like he commanded the debate. Jack Layton offered positive this and positive that and played to the camera. Stephen Harper held his own.

Notable notables:

  • Martin conceded that two parties can form the government (Liberal or Conservative)
  • Duceppe immediately declared that this election was not a question of sovereignty (as predicted)
  • Harper and Duceppe sparred over Bombardier and ending corporate welfare. Duceppe cited GM in Ontario receiving subsidies while Harper is against corporate handouts
  • Harper on Layton: ‘must think he lives on a different planet than Americans’. Layton is against NATO, NAFTA, treaty obligations etc.
  • Layton wants to change the system through proportional representation. He believes that this will include more women, minorities and native Canadians
  • Duceppe kept referring to the fiscal imbalance which exists between Ottawa and the provinces. Harper was able to score points on this issue while Duceppe lectured Layton slamming him for not serving Quebec’s interests in this respect.
  • Everyone but Martin: The Liberals are responsible for the fiscal imbalance
  • Martin to Layton: You will massively raise taxes and believe that the government should be responsible for everything
  • Harper to Martin: Will you raise taxes to pay for your programs like Dalton McGuinty? You raised taxes 62 times.
  • Harper to Duceppe: Bombardier doesn’t need lobbbyists in Ottawa to influence the cabinet. Because of you, Quebeckers cannot replace this government.
  • Duceppe to Harper: We’re not responsible for your weekness.
  • Harper grouped CSL, Earnscliffe and Groupaction together
  • Harper differentiated between privitization and private delivery
  • Duceppe, Martin and Layton: The rights of the minority should not be dictated by the voice of the majority
  • Harper: The people should decide moral issues and not the courts
  • Layton: Called Quebec a nation within a nation

As predicted, Paul Martin did “Tell Quebec that a Liberal vote is a vote for federalism and a vote for Canada. This will go along with the ‘wrapping-oneself-in-the-flag’ strategy which Martin has used throughout the campaign. Also, he will reiterate that a vote for the Bloc is a whispered vote for the Conservative party.”

As predicted, Gilles Duceppe did “Tell Quebeckers that Quebec’s interests can only be represented by the Bloc Quebecois and that the Liberals must be punished. Sovereignty will be mentioned but only in passing.”

Stephen Harper also did “Suggest to Quebeckers that his Conservatives will form the next government and that he is taking applications from Quebec ridings whom might want to be represented by a cabinet minister. Rhetorically ask Quebeckers whether they would prefer have representatives in government or in opposition. Harper may even coordinate/participate in attacks led by Duceppe to tip that minority balance that much further.”

What was unexpected to me was that Gilles Duceppe attacked Stephen Harper more than he attacked Paul Martin. Is this rooted in the latest polls or does Duceppe fear Conservative gains in Quebec?

Low point of the debate: Jack Layton called Quebec a nation within a nation. What is he thinking pandering to separatist votes that he will not get?