Federal Leaders Debate: Could It Be Prime Minister Erin O’Toole?

Things are looking even better for Erin O’Toole on Friday morning than Thursday, and they were looking pretty good at the time.

You never know how these things will land until the polls roll in, but it sure looks like his chances of becoming prime minister increased during the only debate in English on Thursday night.

Not only did he hold the debate he wanted to do, but Justin Trudeau did not, and a perceived slight from the moderator seemed to boost the campaign of Quebecois Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet, which could be bad news. for liberals.

On Wednesday night, for the debate in French, Trudeau came looking for a fight and managed to do it, taking good blows to his main rivals. On Friday night, for the debate in English, Trudeau came looking for a fight and didn’t. Paralyzed by restraint, which liberals angrily objected to on social media, the format, or his own shortcomings, he failed to do what he desperately needed: paint Erin O’Toole as a scary guy.

O’Toole, on the other hand, did what he had to do, which doesn’t seem scary. Throughout, he managed to be as reassuring as a glass of milk, cool and cheerful, excited to tell her about his plans, like an unusually ambitious economic development officer for a suburban Toronto township. He lowered his temperature, smiled, spoke vaguely and optimistically, and was able to avoid difficult questions or stop them with a smile.

He was aided by the other leaders, notably Singh, who continued to attack Trudeau, as he has effectively done throughout the campaign, as an inauthentic, a phony who is all talk and no action.

“How can we trust a government that kneels one day and indigenous children in court the next?” Singh asked. Trudeau flatly denied that the government is taking indigenous children to court, which Cindy Blackstock quickly verified On twitter.

Trudeau’s only good chance was handed to green leader Annamie Paul, the completely wrong target, when she said she was not a true feminist. “I think Ms. Paul, perhaps you will understand that I will not take lessons on the management of the caucus,” he said, which is true, actually, since he lost one of the three caucus members and it seems that he is not talking to him. other two. But it seemed impolite that Trudeau was dragging the first black female leader in his opening minutes of the debate.

He anticipated that Trudeau would get some points in his face-to-face debate with O’Toole on climate, as the centerpiece of O’Toole’s climate plan is a carbon consumer rewards system that sounds impractical, but Trudeau couldn’t. achieve none. clear points, and O’Toole managed to stop him by pointing out that Trudeau has failed to achieve his own goals.

O’Toole’s cheerful and calm disposition, and format, made it difficult for Trudeau to score points for him, which he urgently needed to do with the election tied 11 days to go, so O’Toole was able to get his message across. , and even though it is similar to the message delivered by its predecessors, it conveys it in a more cheerful way.

On the oil industry and emissions, for example, he made the ethical argument for oil – that Canada shouldn’t cut exports because nasty countries will just sell more oil – but better than Andrew Scheer.

On the issue of his vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, O’Toole explained that he was concerned that the prior and informed consent clause would hinder the development of alliances with indigenous communities, which he said is your goal. . This has to do with whether the pipelines can overcome First Nations objections, which may sound bad, but he is talking about partnerships and breakthroughs and he smiles and is somehow credible.

What we are seeing, I think, is a hardworking politician, someone who has spent many hours learning the lessons of political communication. He looked and acted more like prime minister than Trudeau, and that bodes well for him and a bad omen for Trudeau.

The election is not over, but it almost is. Early voting begins today. Millions can vote by mail. Trudeau will surely try to turn around in no time to beg the new soft Democrats, but it will be harder to make that work as more votes pile up in the boxes.

And Blanchet’s story, which looks set to take off today in Quebec, could put liberals on the defensive in territory they desperately need if they want to avoid a Tory challenge.

The short version is that moderator Shachi Kurl referred to Quebec’s legislation on secularism and language as discriminatory, which he could object as a Quebec attack, and which many Quebecers may view as an insult.

Quebec is famous for its electoral volatility, and there is a hardened consensus on the appropriateness of these laws in the province, so it is likely that it will stir passions there, which should help the Bloc, hurt the Liberals, which helps O ‘Toole.

Before the debate, I thought that Trudeau was likely to re-enter with a small minority. After the debate, I am not so sure.


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