Home Election Tracker BC Provincial 2020 BC leaders debate fills 90 minutes prime time

BC leaders debate fills 90 minutes prime time

Full Island Social Trends analysis of the leaders debate will be made available to paying subscribers. | Subscription info: www.islandsocialtrends.com/subscribe-2

Wednesday October 14, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends

Windy rainy weather ushered in the day yesterday, and in the evening of Tuesday October 13 the three main party leaders took the dust-up of the 42nd BC General Election to the stage at the Chan Centre at the University of British Columbia to put on a political show for British Columbians.

Most of each party’s policy details had already been laid out since the election campaign began September 21. So the high-profile debate in evening prime-time (6:30 to 8 pm, both preceded and followed by pundit analysis) was intended to be a watershed moment in the campaign which runs now only another 10 days.

There were no new policy announcements. The event was a way to summarize the campaigns to date and possibly capture any undecided voters. The General Election is on Saturday October 24.

The policy-discussion event was televised and livestreamed by a consortium of media outlets. Debate formats can make or break an event. Overall, this format allowed leaders to make their point, but this-and-that timing for questions and answers tended to chop up the flow of the evening. No aspect of the evening allowed for a 3-way debate.

The debate was moderated by Shachi Kurl (a public policy analyst with the Angus Reid Institute) who despite saying that she served on behalf of the media consortium is more of a policy schill for right-leaning political views as is evident in all of her pundit contributions in various regional and national TV political news programs on CBC and elsewhere.

The moderator opened the evening by saying the three leaders did not know the questions but did know what topics would be addressed.

In that BC NDP Leader John Horgan is still the sitting premier until the election results are known, it would have been a courtesy to list his name first in the debate introductions, but Kurl in many subtle ways favoured BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson through the power of format.

Themes for the evening’s format were well organized and provided a good shot at the leaders covering most of the issues of interest to voters, but spread time thin for achieving any real depth. The four themes were pandemic recovery, cost of living, environment and resource policy, and social issues.

John Horgan, leaders debate
BC NDP Leader John Horgan during the BC Leaders Debate on October 13, 2020.

NDP Leader John Horgan defended himself over the BC Green challenge over an ‘unnecessary election’ by saying that in light of the pandemic his government needed a new mandate and wanted the people of BC to decide about leadership for the next four years during what are no doubt going to be challenging times for economic recovery and social change. Budgets and decisions will not be easy in a COVID-driven world.

Horgan has throughout the campaign presented the BC NDP party as standing for opportunities for all British Columbians, “not just the wealthy and well-connected”. He reminded voters in his closing statement to “support the NDP candidate in your riding”… a way of emphasizing that local choices matter. He reminded viewers and listeners that tax cuts (such as the BC Liberals proposal to eliminate PST for a year) would result in cuts to the many services that a range of low- and middle-income British Columbians depend upon.

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson during the BC Leaders Debate October 13, 2020.

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson made frequent reference to his career qualifications as a medical doctor and as a lawyer — much more so than at any other time in this or previous campaigns. That did tend to broaden his public imprint as a fuller person, beyond the candidate.

Wilkinson ended up spending surprisingly little time explaining his handling of the Thornthwaite/Ma debacle which had sucked up air from Thanksgiving weekend when Wilkinson could have been presenting more policy.

Wilkinson reiterated his party’s campaign promises to drop PST for a year (which would mean $7 billion less in the provincial coffers) and provide a three-tiered child care pricing cap system with what he proposes would be an improved child care placement online registration system.

BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau during the BC Leaders Debate October 13, 2020.

BC Green Leader Sonia Furstenau was literally center-stage for the 90-minute televised/livestreamed leaders debate this evening, her podium positioned between those of the BC NDP Leader and BC Liberal Leader. She came out fighting hard against Horgan for calling “an unnecessary election” and presented her party’s tight timelines for achieving real action in the climate emergency.

Overall, Furstenau probably made strides for being a reasoned and impassioned political representative for people who may have not yet had much chance to know the new BC Green Party Leader (only about one month in that post).

Further notes and editorial analysis about the Leaders Debate will be made available to paying subscribers.

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