Some tuned in, some tuned out, but even those who missed Thursday’s broadcast of the national leaders’ debate were able to catch up afterwards.
A stroll down Victoria Street picked up all kinds of signals that suggest people are invested in this election despite its unusual timing, starting in the middle of summer and extending past Thanksgiving. With the shift to alternative forms of media, it’s no longer considered necessary to switch on TVs at the appointed time in order to capture essential details.
“I didn’t think that anyone completely stood out,” said Joshua Molsberry, echoing a common impression that there were no clear winners or losers in the debate. He watched part of the televised debate.
“I don’t think anyone can call that a debate,” he noted, qualifying his comments. “Really, it was just an opportunity to lash out at one another.”
But he didn’t stop there, going on to expand on his impressions.
“I thought Mulcair did a good job. I’d like to see him be less reserved in his public persona. It will be interesting to see how much he sides with the socialists in his party.
“I never think that any one political party should be in office for too long a time,” Molsberry added.
“I didn’t watch it but read NewsKamloops, Global and CBC,” said Shane Jensen. “I figured that we’re so far ahead of election night that anything that happens is irrelevant. It’s a long time to forget.”
“I’m 45 and I do identify a little bit with Trudeau, though his support has dropped in the polls,” he noted.
With the economy faltering and not showing signs of recovery, Jensen wonders if voters will ultimately lean toward the Tories as the known quantity in the race. He’s skeptical about the NDP’s electoral chances of finally forming a national government: “I’m not clear on how Mulcair is going to win. I’m not confident that the support is there for him to step into power.”
Between street festival performances for the Central Business Improvement Association, Ron St. Clair said he did not watch the debate and doesn’t have a TV connected to cable.
“I’m politically engaged,” he hastened to add. “I’m working for one of the parties. It’s not that I don’t care, but it’s way too far in the future.”
The early election call is simply a Conservative strategy to outdistance the other parties with a far greater campaign budget, he added: “They’ve got a war chest of $2.3 million.”
“Didn’t pay attention,” said Brian Liscom as he walked by. “I’ll pick up the highlights on CBC.”
A young woman smoking a cigarette didn’t mind admitting her attitude toward politics, but she didn’t want her name used, either.
“I haven’t been paying attention. I usually don’t pay attention. I’ve never registered to vote.”
That’s the precise demographic that party leaders would love to entice into their tents, a sizeable proportion of young Canadians who are disconnected from political discourse and uninterested in exercising their democratic franchise. Will this be the election to turn the tide on generational indifference?
“I did tune in,” said Keith Hunt. “Both that and the American (Republican) debate. I thought it was well done. I thought Harper held his own. He was adequate on foreign policy. He did admit we are in a recession. I thought Trudeau was adequate.”
Trudeau seems smart enough to have a strategy up his sleeve that will boost the Liberals in the race, he suggested. His appeal to a younger generation is badly needed.
“I think what it will do, I hope, is to bring young people into the fold by addressing more topics that are pertinent to them. They’re concerned about jobs. They need relief on student loans. They’ve taken the time and care to invest in themselves. I think the government has to address that debt immediately. I think young people are key.
“Environmental issues are so imperative right now,” Hunt continued. “It’s imperative that we do something now. If we don’t, we’re all dead.”
Neither Corrie Tucker nor Daphane Nelson watched. One was attending an AGM, the other teaching a dance class. That doesn’t mean they’re not tuned in.
“I did watch the highlights,” said Tucker. “From what I heard, from social media, Elizabeth May did really well. She had perspective. She brought a level of accountability.”
Tucker watched a numbers portal and by the end of the debate, May’s ranking was way up.
“She called people out for being flakey. From everything I read and watched afterward, I think everything’s pointing at Elizabeth May as being the winner (of the debate).”
She would have watched the entire exchange afterward had it been replayed anywhere.
Nelson added that she doesn’t mind an early election call.
“Didn’t we expect it coming, anyway? It’s good to get it out in the open,” she added, referring to the unofficial campaign of attack ads that have grown tiresome.
“He’s just not ready,” the pair laughed, poking fun at the Tories’ anti-Trudeau slogan.
“I don’t like that kind of commercial to begin with,” Nelson added.