If the winner was the leader who yelled louder than his or her opponents and spoke over the words of others, Monday’s federal election leadership debate would have had a few victors.
Aside from perhaps NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, the debate was dominated by the aggressive interruptions and accusation of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, Green Leader Elizabeth May and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier.
Of course, finding a format that does not feature such cacophony is not difficult — heck, KTW did it during last year’s municipal election and KTW, Radio NL and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce managed to do it again on Tuesday night at TRU.
And those two forum formats featured more candidates than did the federal leaders’ debate.
Perhaps the powers-that-be at the national level figure a verbal wrestling match, in which noise replaces thought, is what the audience wants in this age of millisecond attention spans and bite-sized news briefs.
Still, despite the challenging format, the six leaders did manage to get crucial face time with the electorate and, despite the criticism of such events, they can move the needle in the polls, be it by a nudge or a grandfather clock pendulum swing.
The latter was seen in the great debate of 1991, when little-known B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Wilson delivered one line — “This reminds me of the legislature and here’s a classic example of why nothing ever gets done in the province of British Columbia.” — that delivered his party an astounding 17 seats in the legislature.
This week’s debate did not feature such a momentous occasion, though it is widely accepted that Singh, above all others, likely impressed voters the most with his calm demeanour, quick wit, humour and even keel.
How that will play out on Oct. 21 is anybody’s guess as the fortunes of candidates and parties can change hourly in an election campaign.