BY BILL PHILLIPS
Last week’s Liberal leadership debate was pretty dull.
There was the usual NDP bashing from some of the usual suspects, but it was really pretty dull.
But, of course, it wasn’t meant to provide a Gordon Wilson moment for anyone, so there was none.
The debate, held in Prince George, wasn’t open to the public, so non-Liberals were persona non grata (except the media, of course).
There are two schools of thought as to whether these things should be open.
On one hand, it’s a private party. Picking a leader is an internal thing, so does it need to be open to the public?
On the other hand, these people are choosing the next premier of the entire province and the public, if it doesn’t have a say, should at least be able to have a peek.
The NDP have stated their leadership debate will be open to the public. The Liberal debate wasn’t really a debate.
It was a pretty scripted affair with no questions allowed from the floor.
It’s kind of insulting to sit there and listen to a question from someone in North Vancouver be read out. Questions were undoubtedly picked to ensure candidates didn’t have to wade into any controversial waters. So who won the ‘debate?’ It’s probably easier to say who didn’t win.
There is no doubt Ed Mayne and Moira Stilwell are also-rans.
Christy Clark is the best speaker of the bunch.
She always was a good speaker and four years behind the microphone at a radio show has helped her hone her skills.
However, she’s kind of like Bill Vander Zalm. Looks great, sounds great, but when you really listen to what she is saying … not so much.
Clark, along with Kevin Falcon and Mike de Jong, were the only ones who seemed to be fired up about things. They were the most animated of the six. They were also the only ones to raise up the tired old spectre that the NDP are the socialist hordes about to plunge the province into the dark ages (of course some might say the dark ages are here). It’s a tiresome argument that, well, we’re tired of.
And while Mayne, Stilwell, and Abbott didn’t use their time to rail on the NDP bogeymen (and women, according to the party’s constitution), they did nod approvingly while the others did.
As mentioned, Clark, Falcon, and de Jong were the most animated. Abbott, on the other hand, is very subdued.
He has a deep voice that is almost a monotone, which makes him sound very serious about things. Maybe he is. The point is that the so-called debate here in Prince George didn’t really provide much for those getting ready to vote.
I suspect that the hundred or so people in the room were already in one camp or another and the format didn’t really allow any of the candidates to shine. And, if you don’t believe me … a jaded scribe … take it from one of the leadership candidates.
“Frankly, if I was sitting in the audience during those first debates, I’d think all of the candidates were pretty much the same,” said Falcon in a press release calling for the party to “juice up” this weekend’s debate.
We’ll have to see if the party responds.
Note: Tom Fletcher’s column is unavailable this week.