Domesticity politics: the Winnipeg non-debate

“I’m sorry my dears, but you are up for elimination.” Ten words that should have been spoken, but one again, were not as the second Liberal leadership – well, “forum” – happened in Winnipeg. It was not a debate, but a series of one-on-one interviews with failed candidate Harvey Locke, whose uninteresting and frankly dull interview style did nothing to advance the plot of the leadership race. Someone pointed out that leaders do more one-on-one interviews than they do debates, so from that viewpoint it made a certain amount of sense – but one would think you’d need a competent interviewer and some actual questions of substance.

There isn’t a whole lot to be said about each of their answers, other than the fact that several of them had a tendency to ramble aimlessly around the topic without offering a substantive answer, and it didn’t help that the interviewer didn’t call them on it or try and keep it engaging.

This round, I’m ranking Trudeau, Hall Findlay and Coyne in the top three. Trudeau was able to eat the format up, out in his shirtsleeves, and he can craft an answer in this kind of format. He does have a lot of interview experience, and it showed. Both Hall Findlay and Coyne were able to deliver substantive policy, but the key difference is that Hall Findlay is able to deliver it in a digestible talking point, while Coyne goes on expansively and points people to the policy papers on her website. Coyne also made some really good points about the actual role of the federal government in industries, and kept the proviso about fostering industries to the extent that they’re profitable, not propping them up artificially.

In the middle tier, Garneau slipped a bit in my estimation in part because his professing his love of vacuuming did nothing to counter the perception that he’s boring (though this bit of politics of domesticity was picked up on by Hall Findlay who hates the practice, and Takach, who advocated Swiffering). Garneau provided a few good answers, but was slow off the start to get enough dynamism to carry the interview. Joyce Murray provided some good policy ideas and stole some of Takach’s usual thunder with talk of rural broadband (which she apparently has experience with when she was a minister in BC), but her delivery was less certain.

The bottom four remained unchanged – McCrimmon, Cauchon, Takach, and Bertschi in that order. McCrimmon edged out Cauchon in the final speech round, and she soldiered through admirably when the Idle No More drummer interrupted her segment. McCrimmon was also without any of the shtick that the bottom three engaged in. Cauchon had the least shtick with his red socks that he highlighted, but he was dull and long-winded – Susan Riley commented that he was “like a bore at a dinner party. He doesn’t know when to pause.” It didn’t help that he kept turning away from his microphone to attempt to talk to the crowd. He also brought forward the rather ridiculous notion that supply management keeps Canadian poultry and dairy from being repositories for foreign pesticides. Hot republican mess George Takach was also a hot mess on stage. Aside from declaring ad nauseum that he was the “tech candidate,” he decided that his strategy would be to create faux rivalries with the other candidates, calling out Garneau, Hall Findlay and Murray on various policy points, but he also did everything in this terribly stagey performance, like he’d taken a bad drama class on how to be the least convincing and overly theatrical he possibly could be. It reeked of being forced, but bottom place still goes to David Bertschi, whose dull performance was only upstaged by the fact that he decided to wear a giant red Liberal scarf that utterly distracted from everything he said. And what he did say was largely rambling and all over the place, with the exception of a couple of salient points around the crime prevention, as he is a former Crown prosecutor. But otherwise, he was dull as dishwater, and had little to offer the conversation other than he has twenty-four key points to his plan, to which it was remarked that it was about nineteen points too many.

If the race were run like RuPaul’s Drag Race, as it should be, then RuPaul would have called Cauchon, Takach, and Bertschi to remain on the stage while the other five were deemed “safe,” and of the three, Bertschi and Takach would have had to debate for their lives, and one of them told to “sashay away” and go home at the end of it. Sadly, that did not happen, and it looks like we’ll be stuck with all nine candidates still on the stage by the next debate – assuming, of course, that it is actually a debate.