Federal Election 2011 Leaders’ Debate: the Drinking Game

Federal Election 2011 Leaders’ Debate: the Drinking Game

As the media keeps reminding us, today is the day everyone in Canada starts paying attention to the federal election. Tonight at 7 p.m., the leaders of the four major political parties will debate the issues of day (or, you know, avoid debating them) in English, unscripted and on TVs across the nation. We don’t believe that Canadians didn’t care about the election before now, but we can certainly see that this is a pivotal moment in the campaign. The clash will allow Michael Ignatieff to take on Stephen Harper one-on-one (if only for six minutes); it will give Jack Layton the chance to dominate the conversation; and it will give Gilles Duceppe the opportunity to roll his eyes. If none of this sounds particularly enticing to you, we present another reason to tune into the showdown tonight. Here, our Leaders’ Debate Drinking Game.

Take a drink when:

  • during the pre-game show, a party rep tries to set the bar absurdly low for his or her candidate as a ploy to win the expectations game. (“Harper’s only been PM for five years—he can barely speak English”; “Ignatieff only taught at Oxford and Harvard. He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t set his podium on fire.”)
  • Harper says the word “coalition.” Two sips for “reckless coalition.” Three sips for “reckless coalition with socialists and separatists.”
  • Duceppe yawns, buffs his nails, or drops the L-bomb (“liar”) again.
  • Layton says “working families” or  “coast to coast to coast.”
  • the leaders use any of the following verbal tics: “Let me be clear,” “Friends,” “Let me be perfectly clear,” “What he isn’t telling you,” “Let me be crystal clear,” “Vets before jets.” Pin the phrase on the party leader.
  • a reporter says the words “knockout punch” or “game changer.” In the moment, of course, it’s impossible to know if the game-knockout-changer-punch has been uttered, but every reporter hopes to get his or her voice on tape if it happens. It’s a living.
  • Ignatieff tries to be folksy, but comes off as condescending.
  • anyone says “gravy train” (yes, this is part of the federal election now).
  • “Toronto” is said in a derogatory manner.
  • a leader invokes a half-invented story about someone he met in a swing riding on the campaign trail (“…like Debbie in Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, who…”; “…like Raj in Brampton-Springdale, who…”).

At the end of the game, whoever is still conscious is the loser. We suggest they finish the bottle and save the next one for tomorrow’s French debate, where the rules are the same but the drinking doubles.

(Images: Duceppe, CDCC; Ignetieff, Radey Barrack; Harper, Robert Thivierge; Layton, Matt Jiggins)