Monday, November 24, 2008

Thursday's QP analysis: Dion and Harper

I’d like to try to begin using more video in my blogging. Not video blogging, I’m far from sold on the appeal of that, but rather the use of video to supplement my written words.

In that spirit, with the new parliament I’d like to try a daily question period-related feature. I’ll pick an exchange or two that highlighted the day’s question period, post the video, and provide a little analysis. Just Monday thru Thursday though probably, Friday question period are usually pretty lame.

So I begin with last Thursday’s question period, the first QP of the new Parliament and the first since the last elections, just over one month ago. As you’ll see in the open series of questions between St├ęphane Dion and Stephen Harper, the topic was, naturally, the economy:

I’ll generally be scoring these things from a communications perspective, and so in this case I’ve got to give them both high marks and call it a draw. Both leaders did what they needed to do in this exchange, and came off well.

Dion focused on the clear issue of the day and rightly pointed-out the Conservatives own responsibility for Canada moving into deficit: their own high spending budget choices, their elimination of the contingency reserve. In QP, for the questioner, the answer is less important than asking the right question, and by focusing on the top of the mind issue and linking responsibility for it to Conservative decisions, he asked the right question.

Harper, I felt, scored well by largely avoiding the temptation to hurl partisan arrows and, while not giving an answer that would satisfy the questioner (that’s not what QP is about), he stuck to a largely fact-based response. By answering in a calm and reasoned way, noting we’re the only G7 country that’s technically still in surplus, that the government will do everything necessary to help Canadians in the downturn, he did what he had to do in this exchange: appear calm, in control, a competent manager and, above all, appear Prime Ministerial.

So, mission accomplished for both sides in this exchange.

On a more partisan note, I did want to touch briefly on Harper’s crack (his one little slip here) about re-fighting the last election. Maybe not a slip, it’s a decent line, but if I could inject a little logic here for a moment (usually a mistake in QP analysis) while I’d normally agree with Stephen here, I think the fact he’s reversing himself on directly relevant decrees he made in the election just weeks ago makes this more than a little relevant to bring up today.

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1 comment:

Red Tory said...

On BBC radio 5 they run PMQ live and then “score” it immediately afterwards with a panel of self-appointed “experts” on such things, which is always highly amusing. Who got off the best lines, most cutting jabs, devastating epithets, and so on. It’s quite the sporting event in Britain (and not just for political wonks either, because BBC5 is distinctly plebian in its appeal — drive-time radio, if you know what I mean… they spend far more time football and cricket matches as well as breaking reports on traffic snarls in the Greater London area, daily show biz gossip, etc.). I think a little more of that approach to our politics wouldn’t go amiss — there needs to be more “fun” involved in the whole affair.

Anyway, more to the point of the exchange here, Harper bald-faced lied. The Conservatives did not, in fact, as he asserted, put their economic plan before the Canadian public. Far from it. He’s totally reversing course now from what he maintained during the election. Unfortunately, the Liberals painted themselves into the same corner by vowing never to run a deficit and foolishly proclaiming that it wasn’t in “their DNA” to do so ever again under any circumstance. So, while Dion made a perfectly valid point about Harper’s hypocrisy and “un-conservative” spending, it’s entirely moot.