2008 Alberta Provincial Election Leaders' Debate

alberta election 2008: analyizing the charisma hour (aka leaders’ debate 2008).

(This post was cross-posted with more comment at CBC YouCast, so check it out!)

Overall, I don’t believe that there was clear winner of tonight’s debate. To varying degrees all of the leaders looked pretty uncomfortable in this debate, though do I believe that each of them can walk away with something to be proud of:

Tory leader Ed Stelmach survived the debate. Walking into this debate, the expectations for Stelmach were so low that even if he did moderately well, it would be seen as a win for him. For the most part, Stelmach remained calm and did better than I had expected. Though he could have broken out of his cardboard form and smiled more (or shown any sign of emotion for that matter), I think surviving this debate can be counted as a personal win for the Tory leader (though not a win or the PC Party). With the debate over, Stelmach probably feels like the world has been lifted from his shoulders (until tomorrow morning when campaigning resumes, that is).

Alberta Liberal Kevin Taft tried to portray a positive image. He was calm and composed for most of the debate, though there were times where it seems like he came close to going off message. Throughout the debate it was clear that Taft was picking his fights carefully, but he should have been more aggressive in challenging Stelmach. He did his best to appear Premier-like, but I’m not sure if he was able to ignite the spark that Albertans were looking for in this debate. To his credit, Taft didn’t let Brian Mason get under his skin and only snapped back at Mason once, which was a feat considering how aggressive Mason was attacking him.

New Democrat leader Brian Mason played his role well as the relentless attack dog of the debate. Though he did spend time attacking Stelmach, it seemed like Mason spent most of the debate attacking Taft, which isn’t surprising considering that the NDP will need to take support away from the Liberals if they are going to gain any seats. I don’t think that Mason accomplished his implied goal of knocking Kevin Taft out of the debate, but I do think he succeeded in staying on target.

I’ve never realized until tonight how similar Wildrose Alliance leader Paul Hinman looks like Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Going into this debate, I didn’t really have any expectations for Hinman, but I believe he performed well and may just have succeeded in drawing a chunk of right-wing voters away from the Tories to his Wildrose Alliance.

Not invited to the debate was Alberta Green Leader George Read. Read will be releasing his response to the debate via YouTube, so I encourage everyone to check it out.

Has this debate helped undecided voters make their decision? Has this debate helped voters change their minds on who to vote for? I’d bet no, but I’m not taking any bets in this election.

Check out more reactions from Calgary Grit, ES Nation, Election Notebook, Joel Kom, and AlbertaTory.

2008 Alberta Provincial Election Leaders' Debate

post-debate poll.

I’ve posted a post-debate poll on the sidebar… voter early and vote often…

2008 Alberta Provincial Election Leaders' Debate

welcome to the charisma hour! live-blogging alberta’s leaders’ debate.

Welcome to liveblogging of the 2008 Alberta Leaders’ Debate.

6:28 PM: It looks like the Mr. McLean and Mr. Markusoff from the Edmonton Journal’s Election Notebook will be giving me a run for my money as those two intrepid journalists try their hand at liveblogging the debate.

Game on, Gentlemen!

6:39PM: We need change. Change. Change. Change. I think the leaders have said “change” at least 50 times by this point.

You can comment on CBC.

6:41 PM: Short commercial break… thoughts so far? After a short technical glitch, I finally have the debate on fully…

6:44 PM: For some blatantly partisan Tory liveblogging, make sure to check out my friend Blake’s blog at albertatory.

6:45 PM: Kim Trynacity asked a question to Taft about health care. Taft gives a decent answer. Hinman responds, talking about incentives for hospitals? C’est quoi? Innovative ideas… sure. Ed Stelmach is talking about a health care high school…

6:49 PM: Paul Hinman says “I agree with Mr. Mason” and tears a hole in the space time continuum.

6:53 PM: CalgaryGrit and Joel Kom are liveblogging too.

6:54 PM: This is a pretty disappointing debate so far…

6:58 PM: I’m watching the CBC coverage. Duane Bratt from Mount Royal College is on talking about the back to back health care questions. I feel like I’m watching TSN… the coverage style is fun…

7:00 PM: Segment #3 is beginning! Let’s get some more questions! “Convince the viewers that you are a leader and a strong leaders for Alberta!” IN 30 SECONDS! GO!

7:01 PM: Kevin Taft: “Charisma never built a hospital or balanced a budget.”

7:02 PM: Stelmach isn’t actually doing that bad. So far, they’ve all been cut off. Brian Mason: “My wife thinks I’m charismatic.”

7:05 PM: Phew! All the leaders think Alberta’s a great place… it’s a pretty unfair question to ask for responses in 30 seconds…

7:08 PM: Graham Thomson to Kevin Taft: Is it time for a policy to slow down the oilsands and Alberta’s heated economy? Taft gives a pretty solid response, need to pace development and respect the environment.

Stelmach is attacking Jean Chretien!!!

7:11 PM: Hinman attacks Stelmach: you’re not listening to industry, you’re listening to your heart. Brian Mason sob story… it’s about the little people, not big oil. Stelmach cares about the little people – Alberta is a beacon of hope.

7:14 PM: As I predicted, Stelmach is doing better than people predicted (which really isn’t saying much considering the expectations were pretty low). He answered the leadership question pretty well, but has stumbled on other questions. Mason has been pretty aggressive. Taft is staying collective and picking his fights, but needs to get in there more.

7:18 PM: Taft: “If you protect the environment, you protect jobs and the economy.” Taft did a pretty solid job answering the question on the environment.

7:20 PM: Stelmach is sticking to his script, but isn’t really animated. He should show more emotion.

Brian Mason is spending most of his time attacking Kevin Taft. Taft fires back at Mason for flip flopping the NDP position on emission caps.

7:29 PM: I just did an interview with Global Edmonton for a mid-debate reaction. Check me out on the 11pm news!

7:34 PM: I’m sitting with a bunch of crazy New Democrats while I watch this (including Sherwood Park NDP candidate Katherine Hay).

7:36 PM: Stelmach: “A ten year plan to get rid of homelessness is ambitious.”

7:46 PM: So far, I think Taft and Mason are doing the best, but in two very different ways. Taft is keeping composed and together with his message. Mason is spending most of his time on the attack. Stelmach in the meanwhile is sitting back as Mason goes after Taft. Stelmach is doing better than I thought he would. He’s staying on message, but remains a mysterious cardboard, he needs to show some more life or any kind of emotion. Not sure there is a clear winner yet…

Thoughts? Comments?

7:55 PM: Closing remarks!

Brian Mason used his time to attack the Liberals, Conservatives, and Big Corporations.

Stelmach: We believe in free enterprise, everyone else believes in government control.

Hinman: People can spend money better than politicians and bureaucrats. Don’t be fooled by the other parties. Wildrose Alliance is a common sense option.

Taft: Last closing remarks. Time for Alberta to take its place. 37-years is enough of one government. Time for a change.

Best closing line of the night: Mount Royal Poli Sci Prof Duanne Bratt: “well… Ed Stelmach got through the debate.

More detailed comment and analysis coming soon…