Overall it was quite lively (missed the first 15 mins of it on the screen). Like many things in life, it is not easy to find everything you want in the one package. There are good points about each leader, but they each highlighted each others' weak points. Here's what stood out to this observer:
They all presented well, showed crafty political and high level public speaking experience, though Liberal Michael Ignatieff was the rookie in the top office debate.
Harper has probably gotten more polished as appearing "Prime Ministerial", with his cool composure under exploding shrapnel from his opponents. In fact there was barely a time where he did not have a calm controlled smile or hint of one. Any observer can notice at least one key point about being polished and having good coaching, that is, no matter what criticism is levelled at you, you can always paint your answer in a positive way. It's more convincing when the speaker seems to be sincere as he smiles while delivering. Stephen Harper appears to have perfected that very well, not to mention, always looking at the camera, the Canadian audience, as he responded to questions from one of the other parties. In these ways, he did very well in the debate.
Both NDP Jack Layten, and Liberal Ignatieff made some great points, and some sharp shots at Prime Minister Harper, and each other. The Bloc party leader, Gilles Duceppe, did his role of slamming anything federal. Basically he could use his notes from the last two federal debates.
The debate from this armchair was great also, in that it helped to highlight the philosophical beliefs, and show where the politicians' emphasis was not. For example, it is clear that for NDP Layton, it is with healthcare, and promoting programs that emphasized more grass-roots social improvements. He gave an excellent example of some Native Indian communities who have to endure one home for up to three families, and how impoverished upbringings can affect poor health, education, and crime.
Ignatieff had just mentioned a similar stance, and a very important point about social roots, support, and the relationship between crime, poverty and adult outcome. His position emphasized an approach that would put in place programs, supports for people to develop themselves, to get involved in positive alternatives, like after-school programs, as opposed to nothing, and end up with more bullying. Ignatieff's attitude seems sensible - prevent future problems by supporting more education and needs to families and youth. It was also refreshing to hear him mention prevention in regards to health, and promote health education. This blogger could not agree more.
Harper did not criticize these specific points of view, but he did not emphasize the same important social issues with anywhere near the conviction of both Layton and Ignatieff. To be simplistic about the leaders, Harper definitely is more business, and economics. All Opposition leaders repeated his corporate tax breaks, putting friends in the Senate, giving billions to corporations. Harper did not waste time defending with any specifics, the accusations, instead he repeated how well Canada did economically during the recession - again making a positive out of a negative.
Layton, and perhaps Ignatieff even more, blasted the Prime Minister on as they name it, anti-democratic ways, and disrespect for Parliament. They do certainly cause listeners to question, again, 'what kind of guy is Harper'! If Canada's economy were in much worse shape Harper would have fewer trumps to deal with the coalition of opponents.
Each made good points, and delivered them strongly. From a philosophical point of view, during this particular debate, Ignatieff's attitude made sense because he attempted a couple of times to show a relationship between good social support and future outcomes. Layton's social emphasis was welcome and needed, yet more emphasis on economic realities would be welcome as well. Harper presented well, and made no errors. There were no knock-outs, and perhaps not a great deal of voter change overall.
If you watched or listened to it, what did you think?