Ahead of the second French debate tonight, let’s take a look back at what happened during the last one.
We’ve heard about job ad nauseam, but have we heard of les emplois? No, that sounds fresh and exciting! That was the sort of treat viewers received when they tuned in to last week’s French language debate. Unlike the Globe debate, the French debate featured leaders from five political parties. This translated into a diversity of lazy insults and talking points unseen since the 2008 consortium debate. It was marvelous to behold!
The CBC reported that the debate pitted “passion against reason.” So French. Sorry, so Quebecois. So niqab? Yes, for some reason the niqab featured prominently in the discussion. Apparently politicians think islamophobia flies under the radar in Canada’s other language. Either that or they realize that they can run their mouths because most of Canada isn’t watching a debate it can’t understand. You can take liberties when people aren’t watching.
Speaking of taking liberties, the French debate taught us something new about Tom Mulcair; that he goes by Tom in English and Thomas in French. This is a cute, brilliant strategy. Not only do French voters feel a special connection to their dear Thomas, but English Tom can relinquish all responsibility for what French Thomas says. If Harper, Trudeau, or May tries to call him out in English—using his English name, of course—he can refuse to engage on the basis that “Tom Mulcair” never said whatever it is they are accusing him of saying. Sure, some leader could call him out in French in front of an English audience, and thus force him to own up to his dual personality, but then that leader would look like a separatist for daring to speak Canada’s other language in an anglophone setting. Mulcair has done well here.
Yet, despite that modest success, even Tom/Thomas couldn’t avoid the niqab debate. Mulcair accused Harper of trying to “hide his record behind a niqab.” Harper responded, “I would never tell my young daughter that a woman should cover her face because she’s a woman.” Does that count as dodging the question, or does Harper think of his children as his “record?” Forget Mulcair, Harper is a strange man.
Anyway, given that low quality discussion dominated the evening, it would be silly to say the debate devolved into a conversation about destroying the Senate and opening up the Constitution. Make no mistake; that conversation happened. It just wasn’t a devolution. It was super suave and ultra exotic. It was so different from the two-faced, brain-dead English discussion we’ve been hearing for well over a month. Get ready to do it again tonight.