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Debate: Nothing new in only TV event

The B.C. party leaders went head to head on live television and the internet tonight, but one media expert heard little new from the NDP’s Carole James or B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell.

The leaders' debate that aired across the province today at 5 pm was basically a repeat of what the parties have been saying in their political ad campaigns said Kathleen Cross, a political media expert at Simon Fraser University.

Most of the topics addressed in the debate including healthcare, the privatization of the B.C. rivers and the economy have been covered in political ads released by both the B.C. Liberals and the NDP, but Cross stressed that this is a strategy candidates need to execute to get voters on their side.

“That’s actually a very good strategy and a very typical strategy,” Cross said. “The election can’t be about everything [Political leaders] have to focus on what your priorities are as a political party," she continued

In order for a party’s message to actually reach the voter it has to be repeated a number of times in order for most voters to take note, Cross said.

“They often need to hear it three to fifteen times before it sinks it,” Cross told The Tyee.

When asked about the fact that the leader of the opposition continued to attack the premier on certain issues such as the sale of B.C. rail and the “abandonment” of rural communities in British Columbia as she has done in her ads, Cross indicated that the debate was a good spot for an opposition leader to question the incumbent.

But Cross was “very surprised” over Gordon Campbell's performance, saying he came across as “defensive” and “patronizing.”

"I thought he did not come across as a head of state discourse,” Cross said.

“I expected Gordon Campbell to ‘win’ the debate and I don’t think he did,” Cross said, James, in contrast, came off as “tenacious without being harsh,” and was the most consistent.

Morgan J. Modjeski reports for The Tyee

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