Debate fails to connect with Canadians

By Ian Capstick · September 18, 2015

Yesterday’s media focus was all about the highly anticipated economic debate hosted by the Globe and Mail.

The debate failed to connect with Canadians. None of the leaders were able to push past the predictable well-worn stump speeches and platitudes.

Harper remained quiet too often, and when not silent was often too strident. Mulcair brushed off questions about the numbers on which his party has based its balanced budget fiscal framework. Trudeau was a reflection of his old self and was too staged, rushed and lacked specifics.

None of the leaders highlighted their best assets last night. Each appealed to the worst of their rhetorical style, speaking too quickly and injecting too many platitudes. Thankfully I had a glass of wine to get me through it.

Kai Nagata‏ summed it up best on Twitter, when he quipped:

“This much-anticipated Globe and Mail debate on the economy comes to an end.” Actual cheers.

CBC’s At Issue panel declared the “tricycle bell” used to indicate time the winner. The bell had a parody Twitter account (@globedebatebell) by the end of the event.

We’re going to let the news clips and opinions on the debate settle in over the weekend before we fully judge how it affects the campaign trail. However, this morning there is a marquee moment we’re watching most closely.

As the Huffington Post reports, “Three words from Conservative Leader Stephen Harper — “old-stock Canadians” — could add a new element to the last half of the most unpredictable election race in decades.”

The prime minister was speaking about a wild card issue in the economic debate: the refugee crisis. In response to Trudeau pushing him to explain the cuts to the refugee health system, Harper said, “The only time we’ve removed [free care] is where we have clearly bogus refugee claimants who have been refused and turned down.”

Harper said that policy is something that both new and “existing and old-stock Canadians agree with.”

Google Canada is suggesting the phrase “old-stock Canadians” is taking on a life of its own in post-#GlobeDebate searches.

Expect a full MediaStyle report on Monday morning about how the debate is playing out across the country. Our weekly re-cap briefing, out later today, will be devoted to first reactions and opinions on the debate.

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