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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Newmarket Aurora - The Last Debate

Last night was the final debate for the riding of Newmarket Aurora. The debate was held by the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce before a full but not terribly energetic crowd at the Newmarket Theatre. Part of the lethargy was brought on by the draconian rules of the Chamber itself in not allowing clapping or signs of appreciation/or lack there off in response to the Candidates responses/or lack there of. The moderator was terse and bitchy and certainly seemed as if she was tolerating (under duress) the presence of candidates not blue or red. While one candidate in particular was a bit of a handful, he should not have had his time docked when arguing politely on debate procedure. The moderator did not even make the effort to know who the candidates were, getting 2 out of 6 very simple names wrong.


With the exception of a large group from a private boys school (obviously non voting age) the crowd was old, depressingly old. I was disturbed by the lack of participation by voters younger than my ancient feeling 45 years. I know this is the internet generation but all the blogs and youtube clips in the world does not equal meeting a candidate, asking them a question and watching them answer it or weasel out of an answer. Brochures don’t cut it entirely either, you need to look them in the eye and see if they are sincere, genuine or robotic like Yul Brenner in West World. Meeting the candidates can also can be used to decide if the party you support is attracting quality candidates or just more faceless cardboard cut outs, yes people or wing nuts!


Questions from the public and Chamber members were asked but almost every time they were directed to only 2 or 3 of the Candidates at one time, leaving the audience only half informed on what each parties believe. In many cases it was the Libs and Cons answering along with one of the other 4 parties and repeatedly the PC, CHP and the Green were segregated to lesser questions. Answers were limited to 1 minute which was adequate for some questions but certainly many other answers could have used much more time. The questions demanding a yes or no answer for complicated issues were foolish and should not have been allowed.

Towards the end when the audience questions were asked the party lackeys were in full force with some clinging to questions on paper they could barely read let alone have written. The audience questions did not bring much new to the table and I would have preferred some real one on one debate on a few specific issues.

I like to note that both Liberals and Conservatives broke the rules of the event by plastering the theatre grounds with signs, despite being told not to in the event invitation.

Candidates and performances

Ray Luff, Christian Heritage.

Ray was neither comfortable nor prepared for this debate with a thin platform of fiscal and social conservatism. His ability to bring a pro life argument to so many of the questions was baffling but at least we know exactly what he stands for.

Fighting in Afghanistan so we don’t have to fight them here.

A fixed and robust timeline to pay off the debt (I actually don’t mind this)

Pro life - anti abortion and anti euthanasia

Paying mothers to stay at home (where they belong), having babies (they don’t want) to increase our population in order to lower unemployment and lower the average age, solving Canada’s aging population imbalance and I believe it was implied , so we don’t need immigrants.

Global warming is sunspot related, Polar Bears survived the mini warming trend that allowed farming in Greenland so will survive this time. We should welcome Global warming as it will allow us to grow more grapes. Absolute dufus!

Elections Canada’s 2% rule for funding is unfair, because he can’t buy any signs, (funny Dorian Baxter has lots of signs and no Federal funding, and perhaps Ray just has no followers)

Ray’s best and only role will be to suck the real radical pro lifers out of the other parties, especially the Cons
Go Ray Go!

Dorian Baxter – Progressive Canadian

Dorian is a fixture in the riding and for no apparent reason the darling of the Local paper who probably gives him more press than any other local figure. I don’t get it.

Baxter believes this tiny remnant of the former Progressive Conservative party is the true heir to the tradition to John A MacDonald and who an I to argue with him over this since the CRAP is some neocon nightmare too ashamed to admit they were once called PROGRESSIVE

While sometimes a little pompous and over blown in his presentation, Baxter is a certainly a performer and he managed to play to the audience as well as being a pain in the side of Lois Brown and the moderators for the entire evening. I particularly liked when he called Lois Brown on trust and deficits towards the end of the night.

I found his policy reasonable that unless the coalition forces in Afghanistan stand up to the plate we should pull out immediately. The Germans and others who are refusing to take combat roles while letting Canada soak up a disproportionate loses are a disgrace, especially after our decades in Europe on their behalf.

It’s not even that the Progressive Canadians are radical or something; in fact they are a more run of the mill, moderate party than today’s Conservatives and might even be a decent choice for discouraged Conservatives who just can’t make the leap to Green or Liberal. Unfortunately having only 11 candidates makes them look like a withering franchise rather than vibrant alternative, hell even the CHP had 60+ candidates, shudder!

Lois Brown- Conservative

Lois was exactly what I expected, tightly scripted, somewhat evasive and spinning like a Dervish.

While I know Tory Bloggers will claim otherwise I felt she defended quite adequately but she did not land any major blows to anyone. She simple spent the evening chanting party Mantras and in some cases outright lies.
Income Trusts (paraphrased) “all the companies were rushing to form Trusts we had no choice”
Actually they could have cancelled new trusts and grandfathered the old, fair to everyone, but who needs fair.

“Mr Harper saw this economic problem and has had a plan all along” to quote Mr Harper
I don't think now that the atmosphere should turn to one of complete doom and gloom. My own belief is if we were going to have some kind of big crash or recession, we probably would have had it by now.,
See my previous comments on this

It was certainly during the discussions on youth crime and environmental plans that things got a little scrappy but the 1 minute limit was no where near enough time to have any substantive discussion on these issues.

By no means did I accept Lois's ability to play an instrument as proof she supports the arts anymore than I accept her family being in the community more generations than the others candidates as important to her running here today.

The best "see Lois sneer" moment was when she made a comment about how much Harper cares and received snorts, guffaws and a couple out right laughs (opps I could not help myself)

Tim Jones – Liberal

There is no doubt in my mind the smoothest candidate of the night was Tim Jones, not that makes him the best choice but he has been doing this at various levels for a long time and it shows. I would have like to have seen a full exchange between Tim and Lois on youth crime rather two one minute statements, not only the implications with regards existing court rulings and U.N. standards for youth punishment but also the fact Quebec kids will not be treated as adults until 16 while rest of the countries kids get screwed (probably literally) at 14.

The one big slap at Tim was a comment on his tenure as Aurora mayor and the notoriously dysfunctional council he ruled over. This drew many claps and hoots. Tim over reacted and stated it was not a dysfunctional council that was the problem but dysfunctional councillors, generating considerable grumbles, he tried to cover with a list of accomplishments from his Mayor days but the damage was done. (For what it’s worth I’ve been told that Aurora council is not a hell of a lot better without Jones than it was before, I plan to attend once in a while and find out)

Like Lois, I don’t think Tim had any winning blows but I do think handled the night well with that one exception.

Mike Seaward – NDP

Mike is a gruff but decent guy who is very earnest in his beliefs and while not a natural performer he certainly had his moments with jabs against both Tim and Lois. Mike put forward strong positions on EI and poverty, as well as giving mention to proportional representation despite this topic being MIA in Jack’s vocabulary. He does seem to have a bit of a comic streak in him which he used defuse Lois’s claims of having a family connections to York region back shortly before the dawn of man, (6000 years plus or minus, at least that is what Stevie told her). In response to Browns boastful lineage he responded, (paraphrase), My family has not been here along as Brown’s But we go here as fast as we could!
Much applause.

Mike is the kind of NDP candidate who acknowledges there is a place for Greens at the table and his courtesy and interaction with Glenn Hubbers was most welcome. Rather than fall into the leaders trap and waste all their personal questions on people who had already had too much talking time, Mike and Glenn asked each other questions that allowed them to touch on topics they felt had been ignored by the debate. Green/Orange Detente is a good thing.

Glenn Hubbers – Green

Now I’m not going to make any bold claims that Glenn won this debate, but he certainly did not lose. Every partisan believes their candidate was the best, unless they really screw up or get brutalized by better debaters; this did not really happen to anyone this night. This night held no losers with the exception of the quite amateurish performance of Ray Luff, and perhaps to a lesser degree with Baxter’s over the top grandstanding but as he had fun doing it, I’m sure he did not count it a loss at all.

Glenn managed to clearly articulate the Green position on a number of issues to an audience that was highly stacked with decidedly non Green voters. Expectedly strong on environmental issues Glenn also got to differentiate our position on the Afghanistan mission, discuss family law and poverty, showing not only his grasp of a wide variety of issues but also showcasing that the Greens have a complete platform.
Glenn appeared knowledgeable, competent and genuine, beyond that our policy has to speak for us.
After the debate responses from non partisans was positive, all in all a damn good night.

There was one uncomfortable moment for Lois when Glenn asked Tim Jones if he would take part in a private members bill extending truth in advertising legislation to political campaigns. The gist of the response was “considering what I’m seeing in my oppositions literature, Yes! “

The chemistry on the stage was different than I expected, Green/NDP camaraderie, other candidates acknowledging a Green point before differentiating their stand and no one attacking Glenn. Of course since most of the Liberal/Conservative arguments are based on what the other party did last time and how many times each has lied to and/or stolen from us they really have a hard time framing their sterotypical argument against the Green Party.


I was surprised and disappointed about the number of issues that did not come up.

The suppression of scientific research and government funded studies proving Harper is lying about the effect of Carbon Taxes.

The disrespect and hostility towards the scientific community and budget cuts in environmental sciences.

Nuclear regulatory mess


Jerry Ritz- continued candidacy

In fact there were dozens of issues left untouched, lets hope the audience does some independant research.

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