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Opinion

Everyone's a Winner with Tyee's Election Debate Awards

Most adept wonk? Best use of staccato? Our contributors break down the zingers and gaffes.

By Various Contributors 7 Aug 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Members of the Tyee Election Debate Awarding Committee included Sarah Berman, Jeremy Nuttall, Crawford Kilian, Tom Sandborn, Bob Mackin, David Beers, David P. Ball, Robyn Smith, Steve Burgess, Paul Willcocks, and Christopher Pollon.

Shortly following the debate, Tyee inboxes were barraged with press releases from every political party, claiming each of the four national leaders won the debate.

This time, we agree. Our contributors awarded both style and substance in the first and only Tyee Election Debate awards.

Contestants, here are your prizes:

Most hardened and cynical before his time award: Trudeau

Surprisingly, this one goes to the youngest of the candidates. Justin Trudeau, who had a chance to discuss the economy and jobs, decided to spend a fair amount of precious time saying that the NDP's proposed federal minimum wage hike is a cruel joke at the expense of all the other people who won't enjoy its benefits. (See, the feds can only lock in a minimum wage for those who work in jobs federally regulated). Leave it to the boxer Justin to 'bludgeon like a curmudgeon' by making sure everyone knows he's not promising a minimum wage hike to anyone. -- DB

Best at avoiding the post-debate scrum: Harper

Who else but Stephen Harper would take a powder after the debate? Instead of attending the scrum, the PM sent his chief spokesman, former Sun News VP Kory Teneycke, to yak to the media. Teneycke must be the one advising Harper directly on his media strategy, because he's constantly talking for the Conservative leader. But then, in a shocking twist, Teneycke managed to avoid scrumming altogether. That's right: we've now reached a point where even Harper's henchmen won't take questions. Another poor showing on transparency by the "Prime Minster." -- JN

Most impressive display of climate change ownership: May

Green leader Elizabeth May owned the issue during the debate, which is sad because ownership of this territory appears limited to the leader with no chance of winning the election. -- CP

Most dodgy energy factoids: Harper

Harper tied himself on this one for various issues, claiming that the Conservatives have eliminated subsidies to the oilsands, that coal exports have been increasing, and that greenhouse gas emissions have gone down. Someone call my fact-checker. -- CP

Best at giving viewers an excuse to go to the washroom: Trudeau

Seriously? Quebec separation is what we discuss during debate on the health of Canada's democracy? We have muzzled scientists, laws that critics say prevent Canadians from voting, compromised government agencies, and a government that will not answer questions from the media, and Trudeau brings up an issue that hasn't been an issue in more than 10 years.

You know those stories about how there's a massive surge of water use during NHL playoff intermissions? Let's see something like that for this debate. I'd wager that when separation came up, people went to the flush in record numbers or, out of nostalgia, went to listen to a Pearl Jam CD. Because that's who was top of the charts the last time anyone in English Canada gave a grilled cheese about the issue. -- JN

Most awkward boast about being endorsed by a member of the Senate, which she wants reformed: May

The Green leader blurted out that she was endorsed by Larry Campbell, one of the Liberal senators released from caucus by leader Trudeau. Though he's not one of the senators in the sin bin, Campbell is an example of the Red Chamber's lax rules that permit plenty of extra-curricular activities. He got a pay raise to $142,400 this year, but finds time to earn almost as much in the private sector as a director of the Great Canadian Gaming casino and race track chain, bringing in about $125,000 a year. -- BM

Most adept wonk: Tie, Mulcair and May

The best-briefed debater who presented facts and statistics as well as rhetoric in answers? NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and May share this honour, and leave this observer hoping for a Mulcair government influenced by a ginger group of Green MPs, who clearly have some things to teach him, particularly on pipeline policy and military adventurism. -- TS

Best at not stooping to the GOP level: All leaders

While the Maclean's debaters failed to say much about sex and gender rights in Canada, over in Cleveland GOP presidential debate Donald Trump was busy defending himself from the accusation that he's insensitive to women. When Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly turned to Trump and said: "You've called women you don't like 'fat pigs,' 'dogs,' 'slobs' and 'disgusting animals,'" Trump replied: "Only Rosie O'Donnell." We call that a win for the Canadian debaters. -- RS

Best retreat from Moscow: Harper

Harper was on the defensive from his first pained smile, never recovered, and wouldn't take post-debate questions. Looking forward to his remake of the Battle of Waterloo on October 19. -- CK

The Ronda Rousey award: May

May's mixed martial arts let her repeatedly mop the floor with all three male opponents, pounding them into the canvas with facts and zingers. Moderator Paul Wells should have stopped the fight after the first round of questions. -- CK

The Patrick Brazeau prize: Trudeau

Trudeau again won on points against a favoured Tory opponent. The Liberal leader showed up wearing not only his pants, but a good set of brass knuckles: He knocked Harper over the ropes with "Nobody believes you, Mr. Harper," and kicked the PM when he was down with "To lead this country, you have to love this country." -- CK

Best overall stick handling: Mulcair

Mulcair rarely coughed up the puck while being repeatedly bodychecked. And he doesn't need to grow a beard for the playoffs. -- CK

Most "clearly" transparent: Harper

He said "Let's be clear" more than the other three combined. Translation: Please God, make me invisible. -- CK

The William Shatner award for best use of staccato: Mulcair

Mulcair vowed that "The NDP. Will. Repeal. Bill. C-51" and said that Harper had the "Worst. Job. Record. Since. The Second World War." -- BM

"With all due respect" award: May

A favourite phrase of May's, who used it five times: four times to Harper, and once to Mulcair. A clear sign of disrespect? -- CP

Most brazen remix of an opponents' attack ad smear slogan: Mulcair

"Honestly, Mr. Harper, we really can’t afford another four years of you." -- DPB

Most disarming rictus or smirk masquerading as a smile: Tie, Harper and Mulcair

Harper's facial impression of a zombie accountant trying to tell a joke was impressive to the judges, but Mulcair was also a contender, with his jaws-clenched and fangs-showing impression of a hungry bear trying to charm a deer into reach. -- TS

Best at filling out a stiff suit: Mulcair

It's tough to beat the guy who shook his young son's hand when he sent him off to school, but Mulcair managed to do it. In Parliament, the NDP leader has been known to go after Harper with the calculated efficiency of a prosecutor zeroing in on his target, without concern for outside distractions on most occasions. But Mulcair seems a little more careful now that he's topping the polls. He'll need to conjure up his usual confidence and naturally aggressive manner to hit home the next debate. -- JN

The last but not least award: Trudeau.

Whether by luck or design, Trudeau was last to speak and he exhibited his acting skills with a memorized speech, directed at the camera. He was sure to mention his famous father Pierre, but not by name. "We are who we are, Canada is what it is," Trudeau said. "In our hearts, we've always known better is always possible."

It probably won't earn him a Gemini Award nomination, because of the pregnant pause and hurried ending of: "That's why I'm in this, that's why I want to be your prime minister." -- BM

The "I does journalism" award: Global Toronto's Peter Kim.

Because Kim's post-debate question to Trudeau went like this: "Your closing remarks were kind of horrible." -- SB

And, finally, the most important word not uttered by the leaders in two hours:
1. Gender
2. Poverty
3. Inequality
4. All of the above -- PW

Add your own awards in the comment below.  [Tyee]

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