Friday, October 24, 2014

Liberal hopefuls hold interview-style debate

WINNIPEG—It was billed as a debate but the two plush chairs on stage made it clear Saturday’s Liberal leadership event would not be your typical candidates’ battle.
The nine contenders never squared off against each other.

Instead, they sat down, one by one, with a moderator—Harvey Locke, who ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in the recent federal byelection in Calgary Centre—and answered questions for 11 minutes each in front of 400 Liberal faithful.
In an effort to let party members get more familiar with the candidates, Locke’s questions ranged from serious issues such as crime and rural development to some personal revelations.
Marc Garneau, for example, loves to do household chores.
“I love to vacuum. There is nothing more satisfying than sucking up a dust buffalo with a vacuum cleaner,” Garneau said when Locke asked him to reveal something personal about himself.
The candidates reiterated their positions on issues such as justice—more prevention, less emphasis on prison-building—and marijuana (Joyce Murray and George Takach are in favour of legalization).
The format—closer to that of a talk show than a political debate—met with mixed reviews in the audience. Brent Neill, a longtime Winnipeg Liberal who is backing Murray, said the event was dull.
“It’s a really dry format in terms of no real interaction between the candidates,” he noted.
“It’s a really safe format so the frontrunner can’t make a mistake or have anyone else question them.”
But some liked the fact that all the candidates were given 11-consecutive minutes in the spotlight.
“There was equal time for everyone and they were allowed to get their views out with the same questions, but I do think that it probably wasn’t the best at engagement,” said Jeff Kovalik-Plouffe, who hadn’t yet decided which candidate to support.
The party will pick its new leader April 14 in Ottawa.

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