Stephen Harper focused “on the big issues that affect us all,” Thomas Mulcair was clearly “the best leader” to replace the prime minister, Elizabeth May was the “tether to reality,” and Justin Trudeau was “self-assured and assertive” during the first federal leader’s debate on Aug. 6, say their party’s candidates vying to represent this riding in the upcoming election this fall.
The Maclean’s National Leaders Debate 2015 took place in Toronto with leaders of Canada’s four major political parties – the Conservative Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party, The Green Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada – discussing issues of economy, energy and environment, democracy and security and war.
Parliament was dissolved on Aug. 2, setting off a historically long 11-week federal election campaign that will see Canadians go to the polls on Oct. 19.
Four candidates are seeking to represent the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding, which includes 100 Mile House, in Ottawa.
Of the first leaders debate, local NDP candidate Bill Sundhu thought all four leaders held their own on stage during the two-hour televised event, but he adds it was clear to him the best leader to replace Prime Minister Harper was the NDP’s Mulcair.
“I thought he showed he was principled and has the experience to replace Harper, and he showed the most substance.”
Cathy McLeod, the incumbent Conservative MP, highlighted the economic portion of the debate, saying, “the conversation around our natural resource development and pipelines – we’re the party that believes in having a process in place, but in the importance of getting our resources to market.”
Matt Greenwood, the Green Party candidate, says it’s too early in the election cycle to see if this particular debate will have any lasting impact on voters, but adds there were “no knockout punches,” “no clear losers” and “everyone pretty much held their own.”
However, he says Green Party Leader Elizabeth May was the “tether to reality” and was the leader “who had the facts and figures to back up [her statements].”
Liberal Party candidate Steve Powrie says Liberal Leader Trudeau’s goal was to show he is ready to lead the country in light of the nonstop attack ads launched by the Conservatives in recent months attempting to bring into question Trudeau’s youth and political experience.
“In terms of winning, each [leader] probably got to a large degree what they wanted out of it. But I think Trudeau got a lot more. One of the things that was really strong with was how persistent he was making the other leaders accountable.”
The 78-day election period, twice the length of a typical campaign, is the longest in recent Canadian history going all the way back to the era of Confederation.
The Canadian Press reports that only Canada’s first two election campaigns were longer – the 1867 campaign (81 days) and the 1872 campaign (96 days).
Regarding local debates, all four candidates say they are ready and willing to attend them once they’re scheduled in the coming months in different communities, including the South Cariboo.
The District of 100 Mile House Chamber of Commerce organized the last federal candidate debate in 100 Mile House in 2011.
The Chamber is currently discussing the possibility of hosting another local debate in the near future, but one hasn’t been confirmed yet.