The Debate

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Not the Republican one — one that matters. Tonight three Canadian party leaders will debate the economy. For those of us who have other engagements (I have to wash my hair), I’ll provide you a quick primer of what each of them will say.

Mr. Harper will say that Mr. Mulcair is dangerous and Mr. Trudeau is not ready. He will admit that things aren’t perfect (including himself) but that Canada is doing better than anyone else and that, in any case, it is better to stick to a well-known economist (he’s not one but who cares?) than to try nothing new because, despite Canada’s stellar performance, we live in uncertain times and we can’t afford extra uncertainty. He will also deny there is a recession and brag about having a surplus in 2014-15. He will mention tax cuts – a lot. He won’t mention his strong team other than to say that they are ready to bring you more of the same, which is good if you like that sort of thing.

Mr. Mulcair will point out that he is committed to maintaining a balanced budget and probably point out that, provincially, the NDP has had more balanced budgets than any other party. He will also promise to stimulate the economy with targeted measures while making only slight tax increases in the corporate sector. He will smile a lot and dismiss the idea of being scary. He will say that Mr. Trudeau is irresponsible (and possibly not ready) and the Mr. Harper has the worst economic record of any Prime Minister in sixty years or maybe ever. He will talk about his background as a father and grandfather and may mention that he once worked as a roofer. He will say he had more experience than Mr. Harper did when he became PM.

Mr. Trudeau will say that Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair are both out of touch with the reality of a faltering economy and that his plan to stimulate the economy with three years of modest deficits will help the middle class. He will also promise to make the rich pay more (sounding more NDP than the NDP) while giving tax breaks to the middle class. He will accuse MR. Harper of being a poor economic manager whose decisions are driven solely by ideology (Deficits bad!!!) and not by evidence. Besides Mr. Harper’s surplus is a deficit by another name. He will question how Mr. Mulcair will deliver on all his promises and still keep the budget balanced without making cuts in other areas. He will accuse both of favouring austerity over investment. He will use the ‘not ready’ phrase in an ironic hipster way and talk a lot about his team.

Meanwhile Ms. May – not invited to the debate – will be live-tweeting her thoughts as it goes along. She will undoubtedly encourage Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulcair to stop attacking each other and to concentrate on Mr. Harper. She will also mention the highlights of the Green Party platform. I can’t give any details because, frankly, I don’t pay a lot of attention to the Green Party. Ms. May is a smart person but, so far, she has failed to create a very strong team around her or make much of an impression on average Canadians. Until she does, what the Green party says has little impact on the end result.

As for Mr. Duceppe, I’m sure he’ll be listening closely and making copious notes of points he will be able to attack in the upcoming French debate in which he will say that none of them are good for Quebec, which would be stronger economically if it struck out on its own.

None of them are likely to mention hair but they will be thinking about it.

And that’s a bit more than ten minutes but it will be a long debate – or at least it will seem long.

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