NDP Leadership Debate #1: Inequality! Sustainability! And – ZzZzZzZ.

Photo: Chris Zacchia at www.forgetthebox.net

The great Canadian left-wing Jack Layton memorial competition euphoria broke out of its hibernation this afternoon, and into the bold new world of niceties, talking points and pleasant agreement on everything.

That’s right, the first installation of the oh-my-god-there-are-at-least-five-more-of-these debates came (and went) with a wimper this afternoon in Ottawa.

Your’s truly was in the audience, burning his fingers on the whittled keys of his Blackberry and trying to stay awake and sober.

What were the dueling Dippers talking about?

Nothing! (Some more than others.)

Basically it was a lot of buzzwords being branded about like swords at a dog and pony show, but there was still some clear losers and lesser-losers.

So here’s your post-debate report card

Taxman Topp

He certainly did the least failing. He kept on his message of instituting a social democratic platform, while promising to pay for it (‘Tax the rich!’) Topp’s biggest failing is that he probably failed to inspire. There was one awkward moment at the beginning when Topp went after Dewar for some ungodly reason. It was kind of like a footrace where the leader stopped, turned around, and tripped the poor British runner in the back. 


Good, but serious room for improvement.


Mulcair decided to say … well … nothing. Aside from one spastic burst of monetary/environmental/energy policy, Mulcair (for some ungodly reason) decided the best policy was to seem invisible. At one point, I swear he actually became translucent. 

He’s kind of like that bully you went to school with that started taking Ritalin and then spaced out until graduation.


You can’t get a good grade if you don’t show up for class.

Robert Chisholm

Poor, poor Robert. Basically, Robert was a bunny rabbit pushed into trench warfare. He appeared calm, if not completely without policy or substance, for the first half of the debate. Then, the debate switched to French. The collective wincing of every member of the 700-strong audience was deafening. A grade 8 dyslexic Albertan can speak better French than Robert. I know that Robert is a terribly nice guy, and a fantastic MP – but he can’t speak French. He could study French for the next five years and not be up to par to become leader.


Yes, that’s a minus after that F. You need to speak both languages. He should drop out tomorrow.

Peggy Nash

For a candidate now entering the realm of top-tier status, her debate performance was lacking. Was it good? Yes. Was it enough to make her look like a leader? No. Considering she had been the party’s finance critic, she should have mopped the floors with those other chumps.

And this Toronto MP has a fucking degree in French. Punching up her delivery of nice-sounding rhetoric and platitudes was a halting, slowly-delivered and painfully anglophone French. She sounds like Microsoft Sam, in French. Unacceptable.


Not a lot of substance, but nice written skills. Terrible oral presentation.

Niki Ashton

This bright-eyed freshman was there peddling her earnest brand of New Politics™ which, even after two hours of watching her on stage, I still can’t actually define. Ashton did well, but she didn’t blow it out of the water. She looked coached to the point of rigid. It seemed like she was trying to orate rather than actually trying to connect with them. She talked a lot about diversity, not a lot about … real things.

During one rather awkward period, several of the candidates admitted that Ashton would be their second choice on the ballot. So that was nice, I guess.


Try not smoking so much pot, Niki. Also, is New Politics™ a new strain of marijuana or a rock band or something? Come see me after class.

Nathan Cullen.

He, much to my snarky chagrin, did much better than I was expecting. Mind you, he’s still a fringe quasi-Liberal candidate predicating his campaign on the demise of the monarchy, but at least he looked sort of nice.


You’re a weird kid, Nathan, and you should probably never expect higher than a B-

Romeo Saganash

Romeo looked really good on the stage, despite having bronchitis. I want to say mean things about him, but saying saying bad stuff about Romeo would be like kicking a kitten. I don’t think anyone expects him to get anywhere past the first ballot, but his performance today proved proved that he can hold his own and he knows his shit. He could end up being an important kingmaker.


Okay, he’s really just auditing the class, but the A is for good participation marks.

Martin Singh

He was there, too. He talked about business and stuff. His french was okay.

The teacher forgot to give him a grade.

Categories: NDP Leadership Race


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