Friday, October 3, 2008

Election Debate Aftermath: Merci, Monsieur Duceppe, and thanks Kenny Doren too

Like many Canadians who watched the English-language electoral debates last night, my reactions veered from glee to horror and back again as our political party leaders tried to make themselves look good on television.

For my money, Elizabeth May is the best speaker and most levelheaded in the bunch, at least in English. But francophone Gilles Duceppe didn't do so badly either. I was also mighty pleased to see him provoke from Harper into ice-stare mode on his $45-million summer arts cuts.

See, Harper, not a bad speaker himself, except for what appears to be an excess of lipliner and some bloodshot eyes, attempted to stay on message during the arts funding segment of the debate with his supposed rationale for the cuts: that they were cutting programs proven to be ineffective in promoting the arts.

While others like Dion and Layton pointed out (quite reasonably) that there was evidence the cuts were made for other, more ideological reasons, Harper tried to talk them down with "effectiveness" jargon.

Then Duceppe shot over, "Well, if the programs were so ineffective, why didn't your government provide the balance sheets or the report the outlined the details proving that? We had a parliamentary culture committee ask your government for documents proving the programs were ineffective, and none were provided. Where is your proof?" [I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist.]

Harper back: Ice stare. Good one, Duceppe!

Of course, there are a myriad of other reasons that were raised during the debate for voting against Harper: a couple were his reversal of promise on keeping income trusts tax free and the increasing bad reputation he's engendered for Canada abroad on environmental policy--since the Conservatives came to power, Canada has earned the shameful distinction of being the only country worldwide that signed Kyoto and has since pulled out. And there are others that didn't even make it onto the table, like his dismantling of the Prime Minister's scientific advisor program and the bizarre banning of the word innovation from government materials.

If you need to keep track of all the reasons not to vote for Harper, check out, a new site, developed in part by artist Kenny Doren, which provides 21 easily-downloadable-and-printable posters for everybody's use. I don't feel strongly about all of them, but there's something for everyone there. That abolishing of the Access to Information Database should do it for anybody in a media sector, really.

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