Twitter has arrived as a participant in the Toronto Danforth Debates. To see the discussion unfold from the perspective of the Green Party see the above tweets.
So, what happened? It was the only televised debate. The one hour debate included Grant Gordon, Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu and Craig Scott. Depending on your perspective these “main party” candidates were either the “main event” or the “warm up” for the five minutes of Christopher Porter and Bahman Yazdanfar at the end.
Watch the video of the debate here.
In any case, some thoughts:
1. Television or live debate: The medium of television (possibly coupled with a small group) favored Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu (firm command of the facts) and Craig Scott (firm command of the party). It was not helpful to Grant Gordon (much more philosophical in approach and less decisive in answers to questions). Furthermore, the absence of the other candidates clearly reduced the energy level and interest in the debate.
2. Leadership/vision vs. technicians: This debate seemed to focus much more on technical details and specific proposals (the result of the moderator) than previous debates. Examples: how exactly would you solve environmental problems? What exactly is your position on Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, etc. The issue is much more one of leadership/direction and less of how exactly should this be done. I wouldn’t expect much from any of the candidates in this area. That said, Craig Scott (at least appeared) to be reasonably literate on the issues of pensions, etc.
3. A New Campaign Issue – The Issue of Seniors: The debates have so far focused on youth (nutrition, unemployment, mentoring, etc). Last night, for the first time, there was a focus on seniors and income security. That was interesting – they vote too. I was left with the impression that “seniors” are in trouble. Not a single candidate mentioned (what I think is the obvious solution) the importance of immigration. I.e. importing a younger demographic to be productive and to pay taxes. Now, “immigrants” as opposed to “immigration” have been mentioned before (usually in the context of making sure that Canada utilizes the skills of immigrants – we don’t want doctors driving taxis). But, Canada needs to broaden its tax base. The only way to do this is to import more people.
4. Closing Statements – Revealed Lots About These Candidates:
Craig Scott: This is the party man. He is the NDP representative. He is the mechanism to vote for the NDP in Toronto Danforth. But, what somebody does is not the same as who they are. We know a lot about what Craig Scott does – law professor. But, who is he (beyond the NDP representative in Toronto Danforth)? If one is voting for a party, then who he is really doesn’t matter.
Grant Gordon: He clearly sees this election as about choosing between the NDP and the Liberals (talks about a Red car and an Orange car). That was a mistake. This election is about electing an MP to represent and serve the needs of Toronto Danforth residents. It’s not about the party. It’s about the candidate.
Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu: This was a surprise. Her closing statement focused on the problem of “whipped votes” in Parliament. (A “whipped vote” is a vote where the party leader tells the MPs how to vote. Resistance is futile.) She explained the problems of the “whipped vote” (agreed) and then explained the Green Party allows its candidates to vote their conscience. The intended message was that: If you vote for Grant or Craig you will get an MP who takes orders from the Party Leader. If you vote Green, you will get an “Independent Candidate“. Speaking of Independent Candidates:
Bahman Yazandar (Independent Candidate) and Christopher Porter (Canadian Action Party) appeared at the end by themselves. They were segregated from the other three which was a bad idea. Christopher Porter continued his message of “direct democracy” (this means you should get out and vote). Bahman Yazdanfar took us through the arithmetic of what it takes to get a “majority government”. Put it this way: the Conservative Majority is the result of an extreme minority of voters.