Reaction Roundup: sailing metaphors, locker room talk and ignoring Toronto. The skinny on what happened at last night’s provincial election debate
Given the amount of chatter generated by Dalton McGuinty’s erratic hand gestures last night, it would seem that the provincial election leader’s debate was the uninspiring affair that most suggested it would be. Aside from a few exciting moments and a couple of strange ones (like Andrea Horwath’s locker room anecdote), the debate was predictable enough to get any viewer properly buzzed—and we don’t mean on the political intrigue. Of course, even if uneventful, the debate could still play an important role in the final stretch of the campaign. With that in mind, we give you our summation of the ink that’s been spilled on the subject, after the jump.
1. Nobody won, except Tim Hudak
QMI’s Christina Blizzard argues that there was no clear winner in the debate—but that “Dalton McGuinty may have lost it.” Blizzard then goes on to list everything that Hudak did right, like attacking the Liberals over a cancelled power plant, and everything McGuinty did wrong, like appearing awkward. Blizzard admits the debate probably won’t win Hudak any new votes; still, it’s pretty obvious who she thinks Tuesday’s winner was. Source: Toronto Sun
2. McGuinty looked crazy, Horwath looked tough and Hudak looked like the premier
While fight metaphors are often overused when discussing political debates, McGuinty really did spend Tuesday night bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter. According to the Globe, he was “the most wired person on the stage.” Meanwhile, Horwath looked piercing and steady, far better than she did in last week’s two-way debate. And Hudak looked like a perfect foil to McGuinty: calm and composed—like a premier. Source: Globe and Mail
3. Sailing metaphors are nice and all—but aren’t we facing a recession?
It’s been said that a single 90-minute debate doesn’t allow leaders to give important issues the attention they deserve. Of course, kissing babies and shaking hands are easier than solving complicated problems, so leaders probably don’t mind. Even with Ontario facing a potential recession, McGuinty can simply invoke the image of himself as the province’s brave captain with a steady hand on the tiller. The problem, says the Toronto Star’s Thomas Walkom, is that weak nautical metaphors won’t actually help the Ontario economy in the face of another recession—although we’re sure McGuinty loves to picture himself at sea with the wind in his hair. Source: Toronto Star
4. Poor Dalton is like a concussed NHL-er?
If there was no clear winner on Tuesday (and there wasn’t), you might say McGuinty faced the toughest opposition, having to justify every decision he’s made for the past eight years. The National Post’s Kelly McParland writes that hockey players are taken off the ice when it appears they’ve suffered a concussion—but poor McGuinty had to stand there and take a beating. Um, okay? A request: no more sports metaphors, please. Source: National Post
5. As predicted, the debate was dull
If you’re looking for a single indicator of how tepid last night’s debate was, look no further than the Star’s choice for the night’s “best attack line.” From Hudak to McGuinty: “Your jobs plan has been a failure.” Zing? Of course, there were some other half-exciting moments as well, like McGuinty implying that Hudak is a xenophobe and Hudak calling the premiere a liar. Source: Toronto Star
6. What about Toronto?
While the leaders were debating clean energy and job creation, Toronto councillors were nearby, talking about $28 million in cuts. There should have been plenty for the leaders to discuss to win over Toronto voters: TTC subsidization, childcare spaces, provincial uploading—we could go on. Surely, at least, Horwath could piggyback on some of that NDP momentum in Toronto from the May federal election. Instead, we heard the leaders rattling off places they’ve been and people they’ve met, with almost no mention of Toronto.
• Ontario Election: Provincial Leaders Debate [Toronto Star]
• Ontario leaders’ debate turns nasty midway [Toronto Star]
• The best and worst of the debate [Toronto Star]
• Triumphant Horwatch update after debate [Toronto Star]
• No knock-out debate winner: Blizzard [Toronto Sun]
• In Ontario’s tight race, leaders scrap the playbook in debate [Globe and Mail]
• Kelly McParland: Premier Dad comes under assault in Ontario debate [National Post]
• Hudak, Horwath hold their own in Ontario debate [CBC]