Friday, December 16, 2005

The Nation's Business

After watching a wee portion of last night’s Leaders debate I’m reminded of that old television show from the CBC, back in the early days of the cathode ray.

The Nation’s Business was something like a five or ten minute free time political broadcast, where your average parliamentarian could explain away his or her party’s political policy without the need of any debate.

It had many time spots during its run, but I remember it normally followed the National News if my memory is correct; it was an infomercial before infomercials became the mainstay of late night television. Last night we had back to back infomercials, as Paul, Steve, Gilles and Jack were given the microphone and allowed to run wild with it. The debut of the Leaders on tour turned into nothing more than a two hour version of that venerable old CBC mainstay.

Described by some media pundits as a snore fest this first of four televised debates certainly broke new news, nor did it unearth any new scandals. Even Canadian’s with rudimentary French skills could be excused if they were thankful that they couldn’t parlez vous. In fact trying to follow the translators was more entertaining than following the scripted bromides of the actual participants.

The only interesting note of the night was Stephen Harper’s answer to the if your child was gay what would you say question. His answer was clinical and rather bland, something to the effect that parents always love their children. He once again showed virtually no emotion in his response, a rather robotic reply to a question that probably was designed to provoke outrage in the Conservative leader. He didn’t take the bait, but neither did he exactly wow the audience with his wit. Paul Martin tried to capitalize on the Conservatives plans to reopen the Gay marriage question to parliamentary vote, but it seemed to go nowhere, which is a place that much of this “debate” went.

Gilles Duceppe brought glad tidings of continued confusion suggesting that in thirty years or so we’ll have two separate countries of the Great White North, a Canada and a Quebec. Thirty years? The only thing worse than watching this paint dry is the prospect of thirty more years of the will they stay or will they go dance.

Most commentators scored Duceppe’s proclamation as the winning moment of the night, as the three other leaders failed to really challenge his hyperbole, nor offer up any real defense of a federal system which would include Quebec. The Prime Minister attempted some damage control after the debate in the media scrum, but his moment to take the separatist leader to task passed him by in the debate.

Jack Layton looked earnest, smiled at the right time and in the end didn’t really score any major points either. He gave his standard dark day for democracy spiel over the sponsorship scandal, while conveniently leaving out the fact that he helped support the dark princes of democracy in the last Parliament. For the rest of the debate Jack followed the lead of his fellow leaders with the best policy is no real policy.

This false start campaign continues to stumble out of the gate; most observers feel that the real election campaign won’t get started in earnest until after the last polar bear swim of New Years day is complete.

Now that's an idea! Dumping the four leaders into a pool of freezing cold water might actually make for an interesting kick start to the campaign. If nothing else it would wake everyone up from this walking, talking slumber party

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