Friday, 13 April 2012

Alberta Leader's Debate - No Clear Winner

Alberta's Leaders appeared in a 90 minute media moderated debate last night.  Although there was no clear winner, Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford, who appeared confident at the beginning of the debate, appeared rattled during the final segment.  41 years of Tory rule had taken their toll.  Redford, who found it necessary to pass a budget prior to dropping the writ, did not run on her budget, but had introduced an additional $1 Billion of spending in her election platform.  Brian Mason's New Democrats had introduced a platform that is costed at $1.9 Billion, Raj Sherman's Liberals platform at $820 Million, while Danielle Smith's platform is estimated to cost $308 Million. The figures have been provided by the Canadian Taxpayer Association Party Platform Spending .

With this background, the leaders fast questions and challenged each other.  While the debate was seen to be a contest between Alison Redford and Danielle Smith, Redford soon came under fire by Liberal leader Raj Sherman and the NDPs Brian Mason.  The format consisted of an opening statement by each leader of 45 seconds.  Questions were limited to 20 seconds with answer at 45 seconds, with a 30 second response, followed by an open debate.  The debate concluded with 45 second closing statement.  For the  most part leaders were polite, withe the odd dig.  Overall there was no knock out punch that would give any leader a clear win.

This was good news for Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, since Redford spend most of the night on the defensive, dealing with the "Do Nothing Committtee", physician intimidation, approving a controversial transmission line,  voting for a 30% pay raise for herself.

Smith put in a strong performance, deflecting criticism on conscience issues and citizen intiatives.  When pressed on social issues like abortion and same sex marriage, Smith said that her party would not legislate or have policies on contentious social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

"It's nothing but fear-mongering by a government that's on the run," she said.

These issues have been settled decades ago and for any party to raise them is bogus.  Not only are those rights guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There was little discussion on policy issues, although Health Care received some air time.  Brian Mason, NDP Leader accused both Conservative parties of wanting to privatize health care.  There was no discussion on the environment, the oilsands and specifically the construction of both the Northern Gateway and XL Keystone pipeline.

Raj Sherman at one point made a statement to Danielle Smith, which was odd.  "Danielle Alberta is not Alabama."  Thanks Raj, but we already knew,

Overall there was no clear winner of the debate, but Redford was unable to convince voters that she should continue as leader. In the end the debate probably helped Danielle Smith.  The knives should come out for the next ten days.

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