May 25, 2015

Much ado about debates: What has Harper got to lose?

MJ SheppardRebel Blogger

There has been much to do about Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s current position about the federal election debates as of late. Much of it is contempt and fury, signifying nothing. In fairness, I don’t think that he’ll long hold his “principled position” for any length of time. 

Before I go any further, I’ll elaborate on my position regarding political debates.

They’re not debates, they’re wholly unnecessary and, more often than not, they make no difference whatsoever. Jack Layton tore a strip out of Michael Ignatieff last time out, but the Liberals were disintegrating, anyway. Before that, you have to go back to Brian Mulroney chiding John Turner about options and the proper exploitation thereof thirty-one years ago.

Proper debates are forums where the audience can actually hope to learn something from those debating. When was the last time that you learned anything from a televised election debate? If you know anything about anything, the answer is quite likely “never.” I learned more in the way of concrete facts from professional wresting as a kid, specifically that getting hit really hard with a folding metal chair hurts a bunch. People watch election debates for the same reason they watch stock car racing, to see some dude hit the wall and die horribly.

The debates are talking points contests, nothing more. And talking points aren’t reflective of leadership qualities. For example, al Qaeda isn’t likely to devastate the West with a zinger, nor is the economy going to be hobbled by a “gotcha question.” If you were to pay attention to the debates, to the exclusion of everything else, you might actually believe that Stephen Harper is conservative because he’s slightly to the right of the Liberals.

As a society, I believe that we’d be better off without political debates at all. You’ll learn more from re-runs of B.J. and the Bear than you will from the nonsense that passes for debates in this country. Canadian political debates are increasingly modeled after American ones, which is little more than a contest to see how much stupid can be packed into a six-second soundbite.

It therefore stands to reason that Harper is using the debates as some sort of mysterious political wedge. For as long as I’ve been alive, there have been two to three debates, presented by Canada’s major broadcasters, which Team Harper has ominously named “the consortium.”

However, the fact remains that the consortium is the only medium by which everyone in the country with an interest can actually see the debates in real time.

The Tories have accepted a debate invitation from Rogers Communications, for example. That would be great, except for the fact that, as a cable monopoly, Rogers isn’t available nationally. Just look at the greater Toronto area. Rogers dominates 416, but the Tory backyard of 905 is serviced mostly by Shaw.

But there’s the Internet, right? That’s where the Macleans debate comes in.

The federal NDP couldn’t have an online leadership vote in 2012 without their servers melting. Does anyone really think that Macleans’ site could handle the traffic of a live federal debate, despite its having a smaller daily audience than the good folks here at The Rebel? I don’t.

The strategy is insane for another reason. The consortium debates are clearly going to happen, with or without Harper. The only significant difference is the headlines the morning after. It seems to me that for some unknowable reason, the Conservatives would rather see a headline that reads “HARPER DODGES DEBATE, Trudeau Annihilated by Mulcair” than “HARPER WINS BIG!” 

The Conservatives expect vote-splitting to bring them another majority, but if they follow the Harper strategy, it might not happen that way.

In an ordinary debate, it could be expected that Harper and Mulcair would join together to destroy Justin Trudeau. But if Harper is represented by a vacant podium, Mulcair gets those headlines to himself, particularly since he’s the only candidate on the record as being willing to debate anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Regardless of whether Harper is there or not, the consortium debates are going to be the only ones seen by everyone, everywhere, at the same time.

For lack of evidence to the contrary, I believe that the current NDP surge is real. If they take as few as eight seats in Alberta, British Columbia is likely to be a bloodbath, and Quebec will be a firewall. Seats in Toronto that are expected to go from the Conservatives to the Liberals (which is all but one of them) could go from the Conservatives to the NDP.

Suddenly, another Conservative majority doesn’t seem as certain anymore. 


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commented 2015-05-26 17:28:38 -0400
I’m just wondering, if when the SCOC said that the truth was no longer a defense, if they are really just trying to protect the propagandist MSM? Maybe we the public should file a law suit against the media, we would sure have a lot of ammo. I would enjoy that immensely!!
commented 2015-05-26 14:39:44 -0400
Never though we would see anything the same way. The only reason for those debates was to provide fodder for uneducated news announcers who will try to make their few viewers believe what the media owners tell them. Just in passing politicians should be changed as often as babys diapers and for the same reason.
commented 2015-05-26 09:32:58 -0400
Anne, the problem is the constant lies being perpetrated on the public, via the MSM, and the swill being taught in our educational institutions, and all those groups that are constantly seeking to control everyone, by forcing their views, and projecting their guilt on us. Educators need to stop trying to steal our children, and provide the education that we are paying them to provide. (This harkens back to Hitler’s youth and the public having babies for the socialist cause.) Not pump out discontented, immature, unproductive, shallow narcissists. I believe if most Canadians were provided with the facts, PM Harper would be in office indefinitely! The man knows how to run a country, as he has shown us, and on a world stage, I tip my hat to this natural born leader!
commented 2015-05-25 20:53:59 -0400
If we consider that the Democrats in the U.S. are the equivalent to our Liberals and what a mess they are in, economically, socially and how Liberal policies only make the cost of living close to impossible to manage, the Liberals should be history especially with an airhead like Justin leading the pack. Also, Mulcair looks like an angry raving man that has lost it, compared to Harper who is a strong leader and should be a shoe in. What’s wrong with Canadians that there’s even a contest?
commented 2015-05-25 20:47:12 -0400
like many, probably the majority, seen one or two debates in the past, but usually, I have read or seen the aftermath, whether the undecided is swayed by the post mortem headlines is a question only the researchers of political parties understand.
commented 2015-05-25 16:32:46 -0400
I hope TheRebel will set-up a debate in Calgary! We in AB need you out here more than ever Ezra.
commented 2015-05-25 14:02:22 -0400
Vlad, “lower taxes, tough on crime, anti-terrorism” platform." God, I hope you’re right! It will be tough for the Conservatives to get the message out there with the vast majority of the Socialist Media hell bent on their destruction. This is why multiple “debates” might be the way to go. We all know how the “Consortium” have aligned themselves against the Gov’t in recent years. Take the flap over using news footage for example. Sorry, folks, once it is in the public domain, you’re SOL! (Interestingly, it was the Lieberals that confirmed that legal opinion a number of years ago, they don’t like it now as it makes the Shiny Pony look bad!) Your comment about Union Workers is probably for the most part correct. Most I know that work in unionized shops are far more interested in their familys’ lifestyle than aligning themselves with those that would seek to take that lifestyle away! As the saying goes, “Money Talks!”
commented 2015-05-25 13:38:11 -0400
Harper got 40% of the popular vote in 2011. It is likely that Harper may surpass 50% this time around with this “lower taxes, tough on crime, anti-terrorism” platform.

Even overpaid union workers can add up what it will cost to vote the left. They’d rather drink beer and drive to their cottages than commit their income to some “socialist/liberal make work scheme” that typically ends in fraud and theft (ref: pig wynne and pig mcguinty).

Harper is holding firm because he can. Canadians, after decades of being in the dark, are waking up to their “wallet is more important” instead of some bag of stupid goobermint social causes.