"We are not won by arguments that we can analyse but by tone and temper, by the manner which is the man himself."

Well, tonight's the night, the night that the 28th General Election in Alberta features the famous televised leadership debate. Will the lovely and telegenic Danielle Smith be able to keep up with the dour intellectual librarian Alison "Red" Redford? Will Danielle be able to deftly toss aside silly questions about what she thinks about ass piracy and babykilling to address topics Albertans really care about like totalitarianism on our roadways and excessive government waste of the taxpayer's money? Will Brian Mason be able to get enough words in edgewise to establish his Marxist bona-fides and hold off the Alberta Party? Will Red Redford stumble when discussing which government policies over the past (1/3/5/10/15/30/41) years she's campaigning on and which ones she's campaigning against? And of course the biggest unanswered question at all: will Raj Sherman actually speak up and join the debate, or will he wrap his tie around his head, eat his microphone, and scamper off into the crowd screaming "beware the pod people, for I am their bishop of eggplant!" Starting now and continuing until long after the debate's over, Third Edge of the Sword will be maintaining a live blog of the debate. We'll have the highlights, the lowlights, and the no-lights (but enough about the Evergreen Party). (A brief formatting note: newer entries will appear at the bottom of this post. I know it's a little weird since newer blog entries are at the top, but this will save me a boatload of time. Small burden on you. I'll refund your money if you're still upset with this in the end. Also, during the liveblog formatting may be questionable and spelling mistakes will occur. If you're reading this after April 12 2012 I'll have tidied it all up.) 5:38: North Korea makes sure to try and steal headlines by launching a long-range Galaxy 3 rocket over the objections of the international community. I already made a cheap Red Redford gag about this on Twitter, but if you want more of a socioeconomic point, North Korea's people are starving. It's one of the poorest countries in the world. An independent Alberta would be an economic powerhouse with one of the world's highest standards of living and qualities of life. That's right, if there was an Alberta Separatist on stage tonight, he could promise you the bomb. 6:03: If you're not in the greater Alberta area, you'll be able to watch the Leader's Debate streamed on CTV Edmonton's website. 6:06pm: So when will Raj Sherman first mention that he's going to increase taxes? Take a wild guess in the comments how many minutes into the broadcast he'll first mention it! 6:12: You've probably already seen this, but the National Post has a leadership debate drinking game. 6:14: Pizza is here! It has Alberta Beef (for Danielle Smith), lots of cheese (for Red Redford), and sausage (for Brian Mason). Sorry Raj Sherman, I didn't get any nuts. 6:23: Okay, pizza was a bad idea. Do I take my dump now and hope I finish before the debate kicks off? 6:32: Red Redford sure doesn't see Alberta through my eyes! 6:33: Raj Sherman is asking why "we" keep doing things. First mention of highschool dropout rates, which is the dumbest issue I've ever heard. He sure talked quick at the end there. 6:34: Danielle Smith talking about the election. She's talked about new ideas and her affordable plan. She's also going to go over. 6:35: She didn't. Brian Mason is yammering about..oh, he's sucking up to the networks for putting on a debate. Well, I guess he's got to suck up to them so that his party is still in news reports during a Wildrose majority. 6:36: I'm against every one of Brian Mason's planks, even when he butters them up in politicsese 6:36: Graham Thompson buttering Red Redford up before slamming her with the Alberta Medical Association's smackdown of her. She's talking about something, but all I see is the pearl necklace (and am giggling) 6:37: Red Redford talks about her healthcare plans. Raj Sherman talks about his healthcare plans. It's hard to figure out which one is promising more money. First mention of mental health, an issue close to Raj's brainstem. 6:37: Mason-the-Moron talking about "fighting" for public healthcare. He's talking about nationalizing dental care. Yes, remember all the fun you had waiting for the doctor! Imagine waiting for the dentist like that too. 6:38: Danielle Smith bravely saying only Wildrose is the only party on the healthcare file that isn't just talking same-old-same-old. It'll either work or backfire...it probably will depend on Brian Mason. 6:39: I wonder if Red Redford has wondered why doctors, and not every other profession on the planet has trouble moving into rural Alberta. 6:40: Raj Sherman and Red Redford almost arguing with each other, while they're both saying the same things and demanding the same spending while giving the programs slightly different names. 6:40: Raj Sherman is hammering Redford pretty good here. She probably shouldn't have conceded to him. She tries a "well..." but it's too late. 6:41: Brian Mason is trying to cut in on his "privatization" schtick. He says "we get the third way and Ron Liepart." WHEN DID WE GET PRIVATE HEALTHCARE? 6:42: "Well this time you're getting Alison Redford". I briefly thought it was Danielle talking, but it was Red Redford. 6:42: Why does Brian Mason keep calling her "Ms. Redford"? Isn't she a "Mrs"? 6:43: Raj Sherman is freaking out about private delivery. Jesus, Danielle, attack him. Point out that private delivery of public healthcare is used in every public healthcare system in the west -- except us. 6:44: Raj Sherman was asked about his tax hikes plan by the hot girl! Hooray! 6:44: So Raj's defense is that "we can't tie our services to oil", which is odd with (again) every other industry handling this perfectly fine. Mason-the-moron agrees with him that taxes need to go up. 6:46: Red Redford wants to ensure a budget is passed was to prevent unfounded allegations about what she would do. But then she campaigns on stuff not in the budget! In fact, stuff wildly different from the budget. So how does this prove you wouldn't increase taxes? 6:47: Danielle Smith talking about our attractiveness (to business and workers, not hers). She talks about NDP/Liberals/PCs taking Alberta in the "wrong direction". 6:47: Raj Sherman talks about "balancing the social side" of the budget. He wants an "aggressive" plan of socialism in education and healthcare. He admits he's planning on increasing taxes to Albertans. It's okay, it's not YOU, it's only the rich. What a class warfare asshole. 6:49: "The reason we're in the fiscal situation we are now is because of the Progressive Conservative government". Yeah Alison, you run on that sentence. See how that goes. 6:50: Mason the Moron has a rare moment of clarity, agreeing with what I wrote at 6:46. 6:51: Mason talking about "stealing" from the future Albertans. 6:52: Danielle Smith is being mischaracterized, I guess. She's planning on hiring more workers. I'm not a huge fan of this. 6:52: Mason the Moron complaining the Alberta Liberals are increasing taxes by too much???? 6:55: CBC asking Danielle Smith about "moral issues" such as abortion and faggot marriage. She talks about her various other parties having the same problems. She also brings up Ralph, Preston, and Steve Harper: a government scared of competition and on the run. 6:56: Red Redford freaks out that Danielle Smith won't rule the province with an iron fist. She claims no fag haters in her caucus, which is a good reason to vote her out. 6:57: Courts decided on fag marriage 20 years ago? Yet Raj Sherman says that we also can't go back 20 years. But why not? 6:58: Brian Mason doesn't think individual judgements matter in healthcare. Yeah, we already did that. 6:59: Mason the Moron also thinks citizen initiated referendums to decide things is "American style". He also thinks that the nurses unions and sodomite marchers in his hip pocket aren't special interests? 7:00: Danielle Smith mentions "no-meet". I think I'm supposed to drink. 7:01: Red Redford talks about California's referendum problems. Is it not possible for a single area to do this wrong, and for us to learn it from it all? 7:02: "No I don't know that." Raj Sherman should trademark that phrase. He also forgot to mention the faggots until the very end, which was hilarious. 7:03: I like how Raj Sherman simultaneously defends the Human Rights Commission and gets upset that teachers may have to fall under it. 7:04: Brian Mason brings up how Rachel Notley, Edmonton's most offensive politician, was on so many committees that she can get away with being on "no-meet" committees. 7:05: Danielle was pretty strong on the subject of the Wildrose plan to fix the MLA pay structure and stop Red Redford's damage, despite a few misspeaks. 7:07: Mason the Moron vs. Red Redford. Who can spend more of your tax dollars fastest? Go! 7:09: "You made this decision!" "To the right thing Alison, make your MLAs return the money or resign!" "That's what I did, I agreed to accept the recommendations of the Major report" 7:10: Go Danielle! "Will you show leadership tonight, will you agree to cut MLAs pay? 7:11: Raj finally mentioned that he was a doctor. Oh, wait, he's done that about 150 times. Then Brian Mason says you can't figure out MLA salaries, though the CTF (who he hates) does end up revealing them. 7:12: I like how Red Redford implied that Wildrose members aren't Albertans. Uh, that's the dumbest thing to say ever. 7:15: Graham Thompson accuses Raj Sherman of trying to eliminate private schools. Claims that public schools in other justisdictions are "outperforming" us, despite Alberta's schools (dropout rate and all) best results in North America. 7:17: Danielle on schools: she supports the status quo in the funding for schools. 7:18: Danielle didn't mention how every other province doesn't understand we have school fees. 7:18: Red Redford reminds us that she put money into education to keep teachers voting for her. Uh, maybe don't brag too much about that. 7:18: Red Redford tries making a "Dani-dollars" joke. It flopped more than Raj's "Alabama" crack. 7:19: Raj Sherman debating Brian Mason is boring. "I want to overtax Albertans and give their money to my union buddies." "Yeah, me too!" 7:21: Danielle Smith asking why politics is interfering in which communities get schools. I wonder how many Albertans know that she's not just making this up. 7:21: Red Redford is the one to bring up (again) Danielle Dollars: is this really a smart idea? Danielle foolishly ignored not bringing up that those dollars are on the surplus. 7:22: Raj Sherman denouncing "Public-Private Partnerships". I wonder if he knows the privately owned malls are "community hubs" too despite governments not building and operating them. 7:24: Kurn:

Raj...somewhere in Alerta, a Mac's is missing its cashier and the doors are locked.
7:25: Kurn:
Brian...everywhere in Alberta, children feel safe running around in just their underwear from "the fear"
7:26: Kurn:
Redford...somewhere in Alberta, a person feels safe having a glass of wine with dinner.
7:27: The initial music for the debate sounds creepily like the theme song to Dr. Horrible 7:28: Vassy (the hot chick) asks Redford about Gary Mar and her other flip-flops. "How can Albertans trust you?" Red Redford said she clearly set out what her objectives are. And then flip-flopped on that. 7:30: Danielle brings up the power lines, bullying of doctors, and the fixed election promise. She says Red Redford will say anything, and her promises mean nothing. 7:31: Red Redford is attacking Danielle on the "paying" of constintuency associations. The two women attacking each other was pretty catty, I wasn't impressed. 7:33: Raj Sherman and Red Redford arguing over when she became an MLA. I'm not sure that a woman accusing Danielle Smith of no experience should then say "I've been an MLA for less than 4 years!" 7:34: Brian Mason accusing Red Redford of privatizing healthcare. That's almost funny. 7:34: Danielle keeps bouncing her fingers. That's awfully distracting. 7:35: Another little break. 7:36: Kurn:
Let's get these left wing menaces off the street!
7:39: CBC chicky is asking another question for Danielle Smith, about the Danielle dollars, yet "so many needs" identified by the debate. 7:39: Danielle uses the "Albertans are owners of this resource" gag against the other parties and opposes a tax cut for silly reasons. Ah well, she can't be perfect. 7:40: Danielle somehow didn't mention the word "surplus" in her talk. I think that was a mistake. And now Red Redford brings up the private healthcare threat, and then shows how she would take your money away from you and spend it in ways she'd do properly. 7:41: Raj Sherman says he'd invest $1B in seniors if he had it. This may be why he doesn't have it. 7:42: Brian Mason is bringing up his pathetic campaigning in a poor person's home, and concerned with "other priorities". 7:42: Danielle Smith talks about her balanced budget plan and giggles a little. That's cute. 7:42: Red Redford freaking out about "cutting the budget". "This is a throwback to 20 years ago." Is this a conservative to you? 7:43: Brian Mason says Danielle Smith is acting like Ralph Klein. For readers who are confused, he somehow meant that as an insult. 7:44: Raj Sherman brings up "arts and culture". But not if you want to spend your $300 on Red Hot Chili Peppers tickets! 7:46: Kurn is only caught up to 57 minutes in PVRing the debate. 7:47: Brian Mason won't pick a winner on the question of who he'll support. He pulls the "support individual policies" gag about public healthcare and education, and government control over the environment and energy sectors. So in other words, he'll join in with Red Redford. 7:48: Danielle goes back on old topics. I think this was a bad idea. 7:48: Red Redford is going off about long-term. The rebuttal and open-debate structure doens't lend well to the question about how NDp will support a minority gov't. 7:49: Red Redford: PCs would never work on the NDP with oil royalties. "Those changes would never happen under a Progressive Conservative Government." Uhh, but it did! 7:50: Mason the Moron says that more NDP are needed in the legislature. We need this like a hole in the head. 7:51: Red Redford: "We've worked hard in this election." Pushing around seniors, claiming sterile women will kill us all, and changing our minds every 16 seconds. 7:54: And we're back. Which progressive party do you think will work best as Danielle's opposition? 7:55: Does Brian Mason know that his union thug buddies meet in corporate boardrooms too? 7:56: Danielle's closing remarks thank us for tuning in and saying the elections are important. Wasting time, tell us how exciting and how excited you are. Maybe strip. 7:57: Raj Sherman has 45 seconds to not go nuts. He brings up how he stood up to the PCs, and how doctors have stood up to this government. It sounds like he's already implying that Red Redford is going to lose power. He even talks up the "old" PC party. Interesting choice. 7:58: Red Redford talkin' change. "Some in my party opposed my vision". Like when every member of your caucus rejected you? Her talk about "her change" was pretty good until it went to "equality of all Albertans". You know what that's code for. 7:59: And that's a wrap! Closing thoughts on the way soon. 8:00: The post-debate commentary on the Global website seems to indicate that a lot of people were interested in the "new" Raj Sherman Liberal party. That's bad news for the Alberta Party and Red Redford's "Progressive" "Conservative" Party. 8:08: Global TV has Red Redford winning the poll with 47% saying she'd won. I do think she had a stronger performance than expected, and Danielle had a weaker performance than expected. Which is to say, they both did about as well. 8:12: Kurn:
I just want to donkey punch Redford in the face over and over.
8:59: The debate wasn't too bad, lively without being too over the top, and there were relatively few canned responses. There were a few missteps, several by the chicks in the audience. Danielle, who had really hoped to make a few knockout punches, did fine until she was on the defensive. She stuttered and had trouble speaking a couple of times, her voice seemed to go on her on several occasions, and bizarrely enough she didn't have nearly enough emotion. Somebody on Twitter remarked it sounded like she was crying, but I think she was trying to convey specific emotional reactions that she didn't actually have. That's my guess, at least. When she was hammering Red Redford, she did well. I think the reliance on "I'm the lone wolf conservative" act was perhaps a bad decision as well, saved a bit by Raj Sherman. If the other 3 parties really are the same, it may risk NDP or Liberal voters agreeing with her and voting Redford to keep Danielle out of power. A better tact would have been to express shock and outrage (tempered of course) at Red Redford's answers.
I can't believe I'm listening to somebody who claims to believe in conservative principles Alison! You're against the citizens of Alberta getting back their own money because you think that your government and your bureaucracy can spend it better. We've seen for 40 years that isn't the case!
Also, she flubbed up a few times by missing a chance for a quality point and trying to go back on it. Staying within the debate rules, no matter how foolish they are, is important. Red Redford didn't do nearly as bad as most of her party probably thought she would: she mostly held her own, and a couple times she showed flashes of insight like when she attacked Danielle and the NDP/Libs for wanting MLAs to decide their own salaries again (though dropping it down). She did have a point there, but Yes Minister fans know the trick with an independent inquiry is to pick one that rules your way anyways. She didn't stammer much, only twice was flustered while under attack (and she was under attack a lot), and her defenses tended to settle the point. Tended to. But she spent all of her time under attack, never attacking herself. This was great strategy for a PC Leader from 1997 up until 2008. It's perhaps not quite as useful this time. She was outflanked on "investing in the future" (and dear Lord could somebody please slap her the next time she tries a banal saying like that) by the Liberals. She couldn't play the Stephen Harper "strong fiscal management" card, what with the Alberta recession caused by royalty review scandals and Danielle Smith's aggressive plan to get rid of the deficit. Having conceded both sides of the ideological struggle, and with scandal after scandal after scandal piling up at her feet, she didn't have much room to maneuver. She didn't fall back, but never had her chance to leap forward. Brian Mason was...well, Brian Mason. Boring old, predictable Brian Mason, talking his basic boilerplate nonsense about the threat of private healthcare (like in 1984, we're always under threat of private healthcare. Emmanuel Goldstein is poised to seize power from Big Brother any day now). He brings nothing really new to his tired old performance. His impassioned defense of Rachel Notley made her look so bad ("she is on so many overpaid committees she doesn't even QUALIFY for this one!"), and his constant reminding that the NDP exists and blatantly just saying "vote for us please!" got old after a while. He did his decent enough job attacking, but never had to come under defense (rump parties never do) or justify any of his stupid positions. Raj Sherman was...crazy? I think I called this one early. We saw two very different Raj Shermans in this debate: let's call the early one "Manic Raj" and the later one "Depressive Raj". Manic Raj did not do a very good job: he accused Albertans (the people he's trying to vote for) as being racist hillbillies. He proudly said that he was going to raise taxes: but only if you make a lot of money, oh people of Alberta busting your asses in the hope of making a lot of money. He said how awesome the Alberta Human Rights Commission was, but then went apeshit when thinking that teachers -- teachers! -- were now under their oppressive yoke as well. He got better I think after he started attacking Red Redford a bit more. He stopped playing his "I'm fighting for all those rich doctors who won't move to rural communities" gag and opened up a little bit. He was still prone to fits of bizarre idiocy (the dropout rate being his apparently big selling point here), but did get better as the debate went on. By the end, Depressive Raj was almost statesmenlike. You could almost feel Fake-Alberta Party and NDP votes sliding over to him. Yet as I noted above, he didn't score well in the post-debate wrapup. Now onto...the format itself. "Two minutes of open debate goes by pretty quickly". Indeed it does. With the ratings the stations probably had for this, is there a reason it wasn't two hours? Could they have had less of this "one-on-one" farce and a little more open line? One of the reasons there wasn't huge knockouts is the candidates didn't have time to go into details. Brian Mason was worried about personal attacks...there wasn't time! There was barely time for the small slips of policy there already was. You saw that Danielle Smith couldn't get time to explain a simple four point breakdown of where her party would spend surplus dollars in her alloted time plus the extra time she took on the minority topic. More time and less ending of time would have worked well here. This isn't the goddamned Academy Awards, these are the people involved in the next Legislative Assembly in the Province of Alberta discussing the issues of who should become the next government and why! Obviously it must end sometime but I wasn't a fan of the debates. I'm also glad that Fake-Alberta Party joke candidate and pathetic coward Glenn Taylor wasn't invited to the debate. Having to fit another set of questions and answers and one-on-ones and rebuttals would have made the thing into a farce. I've suggested it many a time (like in the last federal election) that we really need for the smaller networks like CityTV to hold a leadership debate for all of the lesser candidates on national TV. One in Alberta is almost necessary too: the Alberta Party, the Evergreens, and the Separatists could get together and debate much more wildly with fewer rules. Regardless, four is at least one candidate too many. Luckily we didn't get five. Glenn Taylor had a liveblog up on CoverIt if you really want to see what he would have said. Not much for surprises in there.
Ms. Smith is proposing that we balance the budget and save for the future at the same time as writing $300 cheques... I don't see how this works for Albertans.
Really, is this what he would have said? "We can't possibly have a balanced budget without taking more and more and more from Albertans". No wonder he was excluded. 9:11: Kurn on his final thoughts:
Smith was quite composed and responsed to attacks. Mason did good. Raj was just crazy and erratic. Redford didn't answer some of the important attacks.
You can now view the entire debate below: