Home Election Tracker Canadian Federal 2021 or beyond Poor debate format a disservice to viewers & voters

Poor debate format a disservice to viewers & voters

Just 10 days left in the 44th federal election campaign

Thursday September 9, 2021 | NATIONAL

by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends

Tonight’s federal election debate on day 26 of the 36-day campaign — widely televised and livestreamed, and watched by millions (on CTV, CBC, Global and other streams) — quite poorly missed the mark on its most important function: to help viewers and potential voters make up their mind (or reassure their views) about how they will vote in the 44th general election on September 20.

The moderator chose a push-hard, finger-wagging style of trying to corral in the five federal party leaders instead of supporting a healthy debate among the speakers. The party leaders are deeply versed in their material and have the responsibility to lead their respective parties. To contain and manipulate them in a bizarre format served no one.

federal election, debate
The five federal party leaders debated election issues on live TV on September 9, 2021. From left: Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet; Green Leader Annamie Paul; Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau; NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh; Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole. [screenshot]

Commentary over two hours:

This evening live during the debate, Island Social Trends posted these Tweets on Twitter:

===> So far in tonight’s federal leader’s #Elxn44 debate, moderator @ShachiKurl questions have been presumptive or biased (as pointed out by Blanchet in one case), & she talks over speakers consistently. Not sure who vets the moderators but this style is not serving viewers. #cdnmedia

===> Just now in the federal leader’s debate: “You’re not stuck with these two. Better is possible,” said @theJagmeetSingh about Trudeau & O’Toole.

twitter, island social trends, election

===> Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet in tonight’s debate regarding format of the debate & moderator… that he would like to discuss important issues (in that case about Indigenous discrimination) “without being aggressive as this #debate has become”.

===> Just now: @JustinTrudeau said his govt “increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement for the most vulnerable single seniors”. But now thousands of seniors have a greatly reduced amount to live on as #GIS was clawed back if #seniors took CERB in 2020.

===> Odd question by @RosieBarton to Blanchett in tonight’s #Elxn44 debate… why should seniors age 65-75 who “stay employed & have fewer health costs” (choice?) get same support as sr’s 75+. Blanchet: “These people have worked hard all their lives” & now “spend their private funds”.

===> Agreed. The format of tonight’s #elxn44 debate was in that regard a lost opportunity for viewers to hear as much as possible from the candidates themselves. (In response to: We see reporters challenging politicians every other day. Can we not find a way to hear politicians competing with each other directly for at least one evening?)

justin trudeau, debate
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during the English-speaking election debate on September 9, 2021. [screenshot]

===> No closing statements in tonight’s televised/livestreamed #elxn44 debate moderated by @ShachiKurl? Did all the media collaborators decide on that format? Viewers always need that closure in any candidates’ debate, after trying to follow all the back-and-forth.

Other media commentary concurs:

Rosemary Barton on CBC’s The National hosts the At Issue political analysis segment of CBC’s The National, with regular guests Chantal Hébert (Toronto Star), Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail), Althia Raj (Toronto Star) and Elamin Abdelmahmoud (political podcaster).

Immediately after the debate, her guests had these comments: “I don’t know how to describe the format of this debate,” said Hébert. “Format didn’t do anybody any favours. Nobody will get any content out of the debate,” said Coyne. “Frankly, it was a mess,” said Raj. “This was not the night for this sort of format,” said Abdelmahmoud.

alistair macgregor, ndp

Other media who participated to deliver live questions during the debate this evening included Mercedes Stephenson (Global TV, host of The West Block) and Evan Solomon (CTV, host of Question Period).

Strong performances:

Despite the format, all five leaders made a strong showing. They coped well and fought hard to get their points ahead regardless. That alone shows that any of these leaders are up to the task of leading their parties. As to which is best to lead the country, that’s up to voters on September 20.

randall garrison, ndp

===== RELATED:

Candidate-voter interface during the 2021 pandemic federal election (September 9, 2021)

‘A planet on fire’ discussed by Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke candidates (September 8, 2021)

Scrappy election debates: how & why to watch (September 7, 2021)

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