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A collection of platitudes does not a debate make

And that was the first NDP leadership
debate – nine people up on stage, basically agreeing with one another the whole
time, delivering platitudes about how great things like national housing
strategies are and being offered the chance to say how awful Stephen Harper
is. Some of them took the opportunity to ask their opponents how great their
own policy positions were and received an expected reply of how things were
just dandy. About the only real excitement in the whole debate was when Brian Topp
decided to go after Paul Dewar over how Dewar planned to finance his rather
grandiose spending proposals, but with a whole three minutes’ to
devote to such a topic, it was pretty thin. The only other real point of note
was that Robert Chisholm has zero ability in French. Like, none. Woodenly
reading a prepared statement is not sufficient for a party for whom more than
half the caucus is from Quebec and a third of those are unilingual
francophones. I expect his campaign will grind to a halt within days.

I would also like to point out that the
party should forgo the use of the human backdrop for future debates. Sure, Jack
Layton used the human backdrop to decent effect for a 20-minute speech when
all the attention was focused on the media riser in front of him – but a 20-minute speech is not a two-hour debate. And so we were treated
to the sight of fidgeting, yawning, an enormous handkerchief that one woman
kept blowing her nose into the whole time, sartorial eyesores (green shirt +
orange sweater + purple cardigan = epic style fail) and people nodding off –
including MP Bruce Hyer. When he wasn’t busy playing with his iPad during the
earlier portion of the debate. Just saying.

Bruce Anderson bemoans the political
dirt-baggery of the calls made to Irwin Cotler’s riding and of Peter Van Loan’s
ethically and morally bankrupt defence of them – and then admonishes those of
us in the media to keep feeding this story oxygen and to continue exposing
it to sunlight so that this sort of practice won’t just be shrugged off and
accepted as par for the course going forward. Susan Delacourt reminds us of
other dirty tricks that appeared to stop once enough sunlight was shone on
them.

What’s that? Foreign Affairs is anticipating a deep-seated public nervousness about the creation of the office
of religious freedoms? You don’t say!

It seems that we’re not making any friends at the climate talks in Durban – surprise, surprise.

And as his retirement date draws closer, The Edmonton Journal talks to Senator
Tommy Banks, who demonstrates how senators should behave (ie – be
independent and don't simply follow the party line).

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