As summer approaches, so does this fall’s federal election. That mean Canadians will (finally!) have a chance to hear what politicians have on their minds. The pinnacle of Canadian political expression is negative “attack” advertising, but coming in somewhere close behind is the leaders’ debate, where tradition holds that everyone talks non-stop without saying much of anything at all. Recently, the Conservative Party signaled its desire to shake up that status quo. It rejected an invitation to a debate organized by the media consortium that has organized the federal debates for years. Why?
According to Kory Teneycke, a Conservative Party spokesperson and former Sun Media executive, the Conservatives dislike the consortium debates because they “effectively exclude other media and organizations capable of hosting debates of this nature.” Nice thoughts, Kory, but that’s a fat load of B.S. Anyone is welcome to host a debate, and party leaders are welcome to attend as many as they like. There’s probably more to the Conservatives’ decision to decline the consortium invitation. Maybe they disliked the way the consortium had planned the debates. To that end, the Conservatives expressed a desire to “vary the [debate] format.“ Here’s a list of 5 things we think that might mean:
1. Bring on Andrew Scheer as moderator
Anything goes when Scheer is referee. If his performance in the House tells us anything, it’s that debaters could probably lie, swear, yell, and recklessly break any and all rules. Physical violence? Why not?
2. Allow Stephen Harper to be surrounded by his gang of Conservative MPs
These guys will rise, clap, and hoot and holler every time the our heroic autocrat finishes a sentence. But they can’t heckle because…
3. John Baird as Chief Heckler
“LIAR! LIAR!” No one does it as well as Baird, and, heck, he needs a job anyway.
4. Hold the entire debate “off the record”
If the public wants to hear what anyone said during the debate, they can do so by reading the official PMO debate recap. The boys in short pants would make the debate easier to digest by excluding everything that was not in the “public interest.”
5. Give Stephen Harper exclusive, unlimited access to the Peter MacKay soundboard
Imagine: Justin Trudeau says something about the middle class. Before he can finish his sentence, Harper puts his finger on the button, and boom, “YOU’RE A DOG!”* Lest we forget.
*Yes, MacKay actually replied to a comment about a dog by saying, “you already have her,” and pointing to Belinda Stronach’s seat in the House. But that wouldn’t sound great on the soundboard, would it?