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Thursday night, while most people were watching either the Canadian Leaders Debate or the American Vice-Presidential debate, I was watching a film featuring a cacophony of annoying noises and a disturbingly graphic scene of a sheep birth. Tulpan is an antithesis to Borat, a movie about the life of a big-eared, hapless nomadic sheep herder in Kazakhstan. It was interesting, but my ears took a beating. Most of the movie’s soundtrack was a mix of sheep and camel noises, children screaming, and the wind whipping across the Kazakh steppe.

After the movie, I had to listen to soothing music for a while to recover, but soon decided to risk further damage by watching the Canadian Leaders debate (posted in amazing quality on CBC’s website).

I really enjoyed the format they used this year. The moderator did a good job of ensuring only one person was talking, and gave everyone time to respond. I thought Layton and May were the best debaters, although they were my favourites going in, so I’m sure confirmation bias is playing a part in that opinion.

Jack Layton – Definitely had the best zingers of the night. His sweater comment to Harper was hilarious. And he really hammered Dion about being an ineffectual opposition leader. He had some good arguments and looked his best when he was agreeing with May or Duceppe about points they made.

Elizabeth May – I thought May had the best factual arguments. She did a great job picking apart Harper about the environment and his time as president of the National Citizens Coalition. I think she convinced people that she’s knowledgeable about more then just the environment. She earns my respect for bringing up proportional representation and the the fact that Afghanistan is monopolizing foreign aid, something that Harper tried to claim was positive. I’m kind of surprised how far to the left the Green party has moved under May’s leadership. They used to be more conservative and free market, but now they seem much closer to the NDP – with May talking about nationalizing private clinics and helping out struggling pulp and paper mills.

Stephen Dion – He did ok, but didn’t have the same punch that Layton and May had attacking Harper. He didn’t have any memorable comments and was often sidelined by Layton or May in their attacks on Harper. Commentators said his English was better then usual, but there were still numerous times where I had no idea what he was talking about.

Stephen Harper – He was wailed on by all the other leaders, but managed to hold his ground, which was impressive. He got hammered for not releasing a platform yet, and really had no response. His lies about trying to help the environment were annoying, but the other leader’s made sure he didn’t get away with it. The only response of his I liked was when he said the manufacturing jobs that were lost are gone for good and we need to look at replacing them with jobs in the other sectors.

Gilles Duceppe – He was my favourite debater last election, but I don’t think he did that well this time. He had a few good points, but for the most part was irrelevant and only whined about Quebec.

For anyone interested in how the election is going so far, my favourite political site, democraticSPACE runs a seat prediction model based on the latest polls. I think polls are often inaccurate (no one with cellphones are ever called), but the model is still interesting. Current standings are:
Cons: 141 (155 need for a majority)
Libs: 81
NDP: 37 (including one in Alberta!)
Bloc: 47
Green: 0

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