Tag Archives: Debate

Fallacy Friday: Substance and logic the big losers in last night’s debate

I watched the whole damn thing.

Really I did. Without the aid of intoxicants, I sat through a painful hour and a half of shouting, statistics, and (old) stock lines from the leaders of the Big Three Parties.

I even took notes!

Looking back over them now, I can see with more perspective how utterly incoherent the evening was, how jumpy. How each subject was dealt with perfunctorily, with the utmost brevity. How the super-liminal branding by the Globe and Mail was a hideous distraction, as was the ominously dark and distorted and angled and looming false-colour photo of the Parliament Buildings that they inexplicably selected as a backdrop. How much goddamn squabbling and shouting and incoherent crosstalk there was.

Some sample quotes from my hasty scribbles:

  • “TOTAL INCOHERENCE ON TAX RATES. They’re all wrong.
  • “Mulcair: ‘Harper dodged the question!’ Then he dodges his question.”
  • Fear-mongering! Lies!”
  • “Harper: Canada: it’s not great, but it’s as good as it gets!”
  • Child care is Mulcair’s answer to the housing bubble?!?!”
  • “Trudeau keeps saying ‘top 1%’ – I guess the focus groups liked that line?”

Upon further reflection, I think taking notes was a waste of time. Continue Reading

The case against campaign debates

I was pretty jazzed all day yesterday for the first debate of the Long Campaign.

I knew better than to be excited, but still I was – like a football fan on Super Bowl Sunday, I hoped that despite all the letdowns in the past, maybe this one would be good.

But these ritualized events, which have come to be considered so pivotal to the success or failure of campaigns, are now so thoroughly scripted and focus-group-tested and rehearsed and strategized that every moment, every utterance, every careful hand gesture and dead-eyed practiced grin feels nakedly manipulative.

And so it was last night. There were a few moments of actual substance – for instance, Elizabeth May pressed Thomas Mulcair relentlessly on the NDP’s position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, pointing out the inconsistencies in his position (he had earlier complained that the process for deciding on whether to proceed with the pipeline was fundamentally flawed, but then took the stance that the government should wait and see the results of that process before making a decision). But for the most part, the spectacle consisted of Harper, Mulcair, and Trudeau trying to define themselves along the lines their respective parties’ brain trusts think they ought to be defined, and May fighting tooth and nail to get a word in edgewise.

I mean, look at this – here’s a transcript of every time May was cut off in the two-hour debate (h/t fycanadianpolitics): Continue Reading

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