By Ryan Hamilton
Many have stated that the Munk Debate on Foreign Policy was the best debate of the election and, as someone who was there, I completely agree. The debate was on foreign policy, which I admit is my favourite area, yet it veered into the other areas that make this election so special and unique.
We can all be proud of Tom Mulcair bringing up Bill C-51 only once in a debate about foreign policy. I believe that Justin Trudeau won the debate, and I think Stephen Harper came in second, but I don’t believe it was as close a second as others say. Mulcair came last but none of the leaders did poorly. Mulcair didn’t do poorly, he just didn’t do as well. The reason Harper came second is, because one of the main purposes of the debate was to attack him. He was able to survive without taking too many hits.
All the leaders did very well, but Trudeau did exceptionally well. No one was expecting the reference to his father. Pierre Trudeau is a very divisive figure, and most people figured that he would avoid all reference to him. His full-out endorsement took everyone off guard and was the most memorable point of the evening. Everyone in Roy Thompson Hall broke out in spontaneous applause. Another memorable moment was his, “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.” It’s difficult for a politician to defend terrorists during an election campaign and he did it well. Additionally, his French stood out (I’m solely judging his accent because the subtitles were absolutely horrible and my French isn’t good enough to understand everything he was saying). It was conversational French. It was French spoken by two friends in a café in Québec’s Lower Town. His French was very different from Harper’s (who was out of his element in French) and Mulcair’s which was just normal French. However, towards the third quarter of the debate he began to fall short and didn’t do as well. At the end of the debate he picked up steam once more and did very well again.
Harper also did well in the debate. He didn’t have that many strong speeches but he had some of the quick moments that make debates memorable. When Trudeau was taking about Harper making us believe that there were terrorists behind every tree, Harper looked under his lectern. He also took the opportunity to remind us that our enemy is “ISIS not CSIS.” Both of those things won laughs from the crowd and were nice and light moments in an otherwise serious debate.
Mulcair was mixed. He had some memorable quotes such as when he talked about how immigration is in the Canadian culture, giving the example of 38 000 refugees from the Irish Potato Famine arriving in a Toronto of 20 000. His weakest moment was when Trudeau attacked his Québec sovereignty. His strongest moment was when he asked if Trudeau was unable to stand up to Harper, how can he stand up to Putin. Trudeau was unable to come up with an effective reply.
Overall, I thought the debate was very well done and extremely entertaining. I encourage all who read this article to vote in the October 19th election, if you are able. If you aren’t, I encourage you to check up on the election on Monday night.
Finally, I encourage you to come to the RSGC Student Election Debate being held after school on Tuesday, October 13th.