The remainder of the time you'll just get to hear them re-iterate their talking points in highly controlled settings. In other words, it will be one way conversations. Mr. Stelmach, for example, was quoted extensively and unfettered in the Sunday Sun today. He was probably speaking to Rick Bell from his special Premier's-Office-To-The-Calgary-Sun-Editorial-Ass-Kissers hot line.
I often wonder if the evolution of the Web and other social technologies will eventually turn politics around so that there is more of a true dialogue and more accountability.
Some random thoughts on the debate from Thursday night:
- We were only about 30 minutes into the debate before Mr. Stelmach responded to a criticism by blaming a former Liberal Prime Minister. That must be some kind of record for restraint. I'm sure he wanted to get that lick in much sooner.
- No one really one or lost the debate, but Mr. Stelmach barely survived. He didn't particularly impress me as being smart, articulate or as having any grasp on basic realities.
- I thought Paul Hinman was a very good communicator even though I didn't buy into anything he had to say. He was far more polished than I expected. His ideas about making Hospitals compete with each other was confusing and sounded like Fraser Institute boiler plate. I read some other bloggers that were a little insulted by his subtle suggestions about family structure and the economy. They read it as women should stay home. I definitely felt his social agenda was bubbling beneath the surface. I think all the leaders were totally afraid to go into social issues.
- I was hoping we could get through at least on Alberta election without someone saying that you can't fix the health care system by throwing more money at it. It is a dull and weak minded cliché and does not clarify any particular issue. If I had a nickel for every time an Alberta conservative said that you can't fix the health care system by throwing more money at the problem I would have a huge pile of nickels. But the amount would be probably less than the amount of money they've been throwing at the problem. They usually don't do their talking points and it was nice to see the Alberta Liberals and the NDP call them on it.
- Mr. Stelmach called the Liberals and the NDP socialists. Instead of answering a question it's better to channel Joseph McCarthy. Aside from being an illiterate and childish comment it was pretty ironic. Mr. Stelmach has been a part of one of the most interventionist governments in Alberta's history. For example, they rejected public auto insurance, but then intervened with a massive bureaucracy to set rates, and now the have to spend millions of dollars appealling the strike down of their stupid restriction on civil awards for accident victims. Seriously, how dumb would a goverment have to be to reach into the future and handcuff the civil courts. And don't get us started on electrical deregulation, bill 40, and the general drift towards bigger, less efficient and more controlling government, and a thick layer of very expensive cronyism. Sure, waste a bunch more of my money while calling everyone else socialists and bragging about what it means to be a "conservative".
- Aside from that, I thought the debate was too long. I would have preferred that if they take questions they take them unprepared from audience members, rather than pre-discussed quesions from media people. For example, Nirmal Naidoo ask Brian Mason how much money it would cost to fix the health care system. This wasn't really a question but just a short editorial from CICT-TV.
- I couldn't help think of that Stealers Wheel song:
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.
Maybe Kevin Taft should use that as a campaign song.
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