Thursday, February 21, 2008

Post Debate Redux

Some pros and cons for each:


Pros: Wasn't knocked off message by opposition attacks. Stayed out of the way when Brian Mason and Kevin Taft went at each other. Was sound thoroughly competent by quoting a myriad of facts and figures.

Cons: Didn't come across as a lively or dynamic speaker. Failed to answer the question about specific figures surrounding job losses resulting from Liberal and NDP platform promises on the environment. Waved around a copy of the 20 year Capital Plan... Stock taught us that lesson already.

Liberal Leader KEVIN TAFT

Pros: Retained his composure almost through the entire debate. Stayed on message and avoided getting too specific, instead choosing to focus on broad generalities. Delivers an excellent answer on the question about charisma.

Cons: Looked awkward at times using wild hand gestures, deliberately slow speech, and the goofy grin... seemed like he was trying to overcompensate for the aforementioned lack of charisma. Caught sucked into debating Brian Mason toe-to-toe.


Pros: Delivered the standard NDP soundbytes like FedEx on Christmas Eve. Remained aggressive, but never over the top. Managed to lure Kevin Taft into debating him.

Cons: Used notes a bit too often. Refers to oilsands as "tarsands". Took too long to attack P3s.

Wildrose Alliance Leader PAUL HINMAN

Pros: Understood that this was a chance to introduce himself to Albertans and treated it as such. Clearly placed his party to the right of the PCs in an attempt to woo conservative voters. Repeated the main message of lower taxes and less government.

Cons: Was the least confident public speaker of the 4 on stage. Referred to notes too often, failing to look up at the camera. Went on a couple of off-topic, ideological tangents.

Its hard to pick winners and losers, but there are some key elements that the 4 leaders can be measured against.

ED STELMACH needed to show that he has a clear plan moving forward, distance himself from Ralph Klein's style of leadership, and, if not charismatic, at least not come across as socially awkward. He SUCCEEDED on all fronts.

KEVIN TAFT needed to present Albertans with less rhetoric and more detail of his plan for the province, particularily after calls for a costing of his platform. He also needed to show himself to be more confident than Stelmach and avoid being dragged down into one-on-one debate with Brian Mason. Although not noticeably worse than Stelmach, he clearly FAILED on the other two fronts.

BRIAN MASON needed to elevate the NDP to the same level as the Liberals as an option for voters by getting Kevin Taft to debate him one-on-one. He also needed to talk about some specifics of the NDP plan and keep the pressure up on Stelmach. He managed to SUCCEED on all fronts.

PAUL HINMAN needed to give Albertans a good first impression of this new party by outlining the basic guiding principles of his party. He also needed to present himself in a very competent manner to put potential WRA voters at ease. On the first front, he SUCCEEDED. On the second front, though, he still has some work to do and, thus, FAILED.

Overall, I think Premier Stelmach and Brian Mason should be happy with their performance tonight. Paul Hinman, although rough around the edges, probably did as good as someone who leads a 1-month old party can be expected to do. Kevin Taft, however, missed the big chance he had to score a victory with Alberta voters.


  1. What debate were you watching? A clear plan going forward? All I saw him do was reiterate the $940/second run-up to the election giveaways.

    Spending money to try to attract daycare workers into the province without addressing the housing issues so that those who do happen to show up have a place to live isn't a plan, it's a clusterf..

    "We're going to spend money to make more medical student spaces" when the doctors are going "We don't have enough residency opportunities to train the med students we have now" isn't a plan, it's a clusterf..

    Addressing a boom that's already too hot by giving further tax cuts to people rather than devoting significant resources to fixing the problems the boom has caused isn't a plan, it's a .. yeah.. you already know.

    Sadly, Taft wasn't much better. On the bright side, at least he addressed education. Given a province where we can't get enough people to staff the local subway, we have to do something to get us the skilled workers we need, and we can't import all of them, cause there's simply no place for them to live right now. The solution is obviously to train up those we already do have, yet Taft was the only one who even came close to addressing that issue, and he was just too creepy and focussed on attacking the cluster rather than on really presenting why he and the Liberals would be a solid choice.

    Hinman and Mason both presented themselves well, but their policies are too shortsighted to be a significant change from the cluster.

  2. Good post, but I'd have to disagree on Mason's success. You seem to have missed a few key spots. Mason did tangle with Taft well, and needed to do that. But he couldn't figure out whether more or less royalties was better, he claimed experience with 1.5 billion dollars at city level which is a pee-wee league by comparison to Alberta's, AND in closing remarks he managed to say that he is the alternative party for those staying home.

  3. I don't know, I love watching Mason give Taft the gears... Taft just just so 'unglued', as the Sun says... hilarious.

  4. Yes, yes... I see the pattern. The Conservative won, the Liberal lost, and dipper was insignificant.

    You could at least try to be a little subtle in your spin.

  5. Well it is OBVIOUS from reading different blogs that everyone watched with their own biases intact. The only real difference is that some conservative blogs manage to be honest with their reviews of the Premier (not giving him top marks, pointing out what he did wrong as much as where he scored) and the Liberal blogs mostly seem to think that the sun shines out of Taft's ass. They either can't bear to criticize him or they are blinded by the light...

    However, we were all able to watch the debate so I don't know who they think they are fooling. The press releases they sent out during the debate make me think they actually believe they (and Taft) are superior to everyone else. But I think we can figure out when we are being patronized.

    I think Mason did well as well - in direct comparison with Taft (his main competition) he certainly came out for the better. I think a left vote would be well planted with the NDP.