Wednesday, April 13, 2011

French Debate Kicked Ass (mostly Harper's)

I hope people were watching, because tonight's French-language leaders' debate was lively, passionate and substantive. After fighting sleep at about the half-way point in yesterday's English-language debate, tonight I found myself riveted.

This is in no small part due to Gilles Duceppe's fiery energy tonight, after being content to sit quietly on the side-lines for much of the previous night. But also, because Ignatieff really came across, and contrasted strongly against Harper, who himself seemed unsure of his French, and off his game generally. I found Harper did not seen strong tonight, which is the worst thing for the guy who is the current PM to convey.

Layton was taken off his game again by Duceppe's jabbing on the Bill 101 question. Harper's only really good moment was when he pointed at the two of them and asked the audience to imagine them working together in a coalition. That's not saying all that much.

Duceppe went whole-hog on his separatist cred tonight, and that is perhaps a sign he may be setting down some touchstones for a potential jump to provincial politics. He may be positioning himself to take the Parti-Québecois mantle from Pauline Marois, who appears weak going into a confidence vote among the party faithful in coming weeks.

Back to Ignatieff. He looked tough, secure and in charge. His French was generally good, and when it wasn't, his obvious passion made up for it. That is key for the Québec population, so good on him. He can ride this into a lead in coming days.

Again, that's if he plays his cards right.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ignatieff: I hear a statesman

This piece by Jane Taber of the Globe and Mail harangues Michael Ignatieff for his lack of specifics, but I think he sounds pretty reasonable here:
There was no mention of the hydro mega-project in the Liberal platform, released Sunday. But when asked about it Monday, Mr. Ignatieff spoke about involving Quebec – and maybe even Ontario – in a “pan-Canadian approach” to inter-provincial energy sharing.

“It’s not just a matter of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

He argued that a Liberal government would not play off one province against another, suggesting that is what Mr. Harper is doing.

A federal government, he said, needs to “sit down with the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and the province of Quebec. ... Let’s think about this medium and long-term.”

He added: “But for heavens sake if we don’t sit in a room pretty soon we are going to be suboptimal as a country when we could be a superpower.”

The Liberal Leader suggested finding a way to “wheel this power through Quebec” and said that Canadians have to start “thinking big” on energy or risk having highly segmented markets that don’t speak to one another.
Contrast this approach to that of Harper, who has riled Québec premier Jean Charest by supporting federal bucks to develop the means to both harnass and transport reams of viable, renewable electricity to presumed New England markets via the maritime provinces - all to curry favour with the new premier of Newfoundland and Labrador in the hopes of taking a couple of parliamentary seats from that province. Never mind the ill will such a move might provoke in other jurisdictions.

It puzzles me that, despite this regional favouritism, Harper still refuses to cough up the dough his most prominent Québec ministers all but promised a few short months ago, to build a new NHL-ready arena for Québec City, on the grounds it would be unfair to other major cities in other provinces who are in the same situation.

I mean, what's a Québecois voter to think, anyway? Gilles Duceppe will gladly provide the answer. Ignatieff, too, except (poor bastard) he's gotta please somebody in 10 different provinces. Not just one.

Hence the statesmanship of his comments today.

And hence this blogger's newfound respect for the man. He is fighting the good fight, and it's possibly Canada's last best hope for a united future.

Moi, je m'occupe d'lui aider dès ce moment-là.

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