9:02: Negative politics
Harper: "we don't need personal attacks." He's hilarious! Oh, this is a great discussion on negative attacks!
Dion just killed Harper on his earlier attack during the debate on the person who penned the Canadian Medical Association Journal as having been a Liberal, simply because he wrote the editorial. The look on Harper's face was priceless. That was a good moment, one of the best of the debate thus far. And it was perfectly natural.
Duceppe also took Harper to task effectively on the billboard the Conservatives have been driving around Quebec, attacking Quebecers for having chosen the Bloc all these years and wasting money...
Whoo that was fun!
9:07: discussion begins on gun control and crime issues.
Layton, solid answer. Empathetic, one of his best thus far.
Harper, we want better checks, etc., recites the state of affairs, nothing to connect with the person, technical.
Dion, man, is it just me or is he kicking ass here? He's speaking directly to the camera, to the viewer, good answer.
Duceppe, speaking to Quebec more directly again.
Harper in rebuttal, again with that perturbed look on his face like only he gets things but he did get his point across. This area, although I disagree with Harper's views, will likely be viewed by his supporters as a strength.
Duceppe brings up the 14 year olds in prison policy. Harper backing down on it somewhat, says his position is being distorted. May accuses Harper of fearmongering crime issues, well done.
To Harper...a confidence vote on young offenders? Harper won't answer.
Dion points out the consequential need to build prisons if Harper's sentencing policies are adopted and how this will take away from provincial coffers.
Duceppe characterizes Harper's policies as "U.S. justice." He also rightfully points out Harper's abuse of the minority parliament. Yay, Duceppe!
9:21 Discussion begins on Quebec's status.
OK, not a lot new here...but then we get into the arts issue. Layton sticks it to Harper...Harper says he raised funding by 8/10%, please someone debunk this bull. Harper now lecturing Duceppe about the Quebec nation resolution, he acted, the Bloc reacted. A play for Quebec by Harper. Duceppe is muddling his response with administrative stuff, now he's given Harper an opening. Duceppe could have done much better there if I'm not mistaken....
Dion: "what you have in Ottawa is a government that wants to censor the arts." Great line.
Harper still on the gala thing. Keep it up!
Layton speaks about artists living in poverty, Harper looks pained.
Dion again says Harper wants to censor the arts, prods him on the gala thing. Harper is unnerved, Dion is cool. Who would'a thunk it?
9:35 Health Care
This is not an inspiring discussion...Harper has repeated twice that health care is a provincial responsibility, and? Duceppe agrees, of course, and it's become a fiscal imbalance issue for the Harper/Duceppe engagement.
I don't believe the dynamic is changing anymore here, it's almost quarter to ten and this thing is virtually in the kicker.
9:45 Canada in the world
Question on Afghanistan posed.
May clarifies her position on Afghanistan that the NDP have been attacking. Criticizes Harper announcing the firm 2011 date in the campaign. Good for her.
Back and forth between Duceppe and NDP, playing for anti-war votes in Quebec.
Dion had the opportunity to raise the Howard speech. Good effective exchange between Dion and Layton at the end on how to exit.
Harper is "laughing a bit" at Dion due to emissions rising under Kyoto...he's roundly mocked for raising this, groans. Duceppe comes to Dion's defence.
Love Dion raising how Harper calls critics of the Afghanistan policy, "pro-Taliban."
This was a surprisingly good format. Even with the five, there was a pretty good sense of where everyone stood on the issues. That's been sorely missing in this campaign about nothing. I suspect the outcome would be much different if we were to have more of these debates.
Very, very happy with Mr. Dion's performance. Clearly he exceeded expectations and then more. Could not have asked for a better debate for him. He was substantive, comfortable, funny and effective. Now if only the media doesn't destroy it.
Going out now and will not let the pundits ruin it...for a late dinner in T.O.!