And they’re off

Not the leaders, the Canadiens. And they’re already down 1-0. Mike Boone has details.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s political party leaders are having their makeup done while they practice memorizing which members of opposing parties’ teams have put their foot in it since the campaign began.

Live blog of the debate after the jump.

Here’s the coverage breakdown:


  • Radio-Canada has the TV debate
  • Télé Québec ditto
  • TVA ditto
  • TQS is showing video of pets playing with things. I guess that’s more important.
  • The three English channels, CTV, CBC Montreal and Global Quebec, are avoiding the debate entirely in favour of prime-time coverage.
  • CBC Newsworld is running it with simultaneous translation into English.
  • CTV NewsNet is talking politics, but not showing the debate.
  • RDI has it
  • LCN has it
  • CPAC has it


  • CBC Radio One (88.5) has translation (with original audio in the background)
  • SRC Première Chaîne has it
  • 98.5 has it


  • No live coverage
  • The Gazette: No live coverage
  • No live coverage
  • is updating its coverage pretty fast
  • (“Pour ne rien manquer des élections” — you know, except the debate): No live coverage
  • Canoe has a live videocast of LCN’s feed with a 20-second delay over TV.
  • The Globe and Mail has the debate as its top story (kudos) with CP providing updates (couldn’t spare anyone to watch TV?)
  • Global Quebec (warning: plays video without asking): No live coverage
  • Cyberpresse has liveblogging coming out of every orifice.
  • Le Devoir: No live coverage
  • Me: This.

20h00: Our dear moderator starts the debate with Mario Dumont, who looks like he has a giant piece of string coming out of his ear due to unfortunate placement of a curtain behind him. He comes out strong, with energetic hand gestures aplenty, except he looks like he’s about to burst out laughing. Hopefully people see that as a sign of confidence.

20h06: I just discovered a hole in my sock. What are the leaders going to do about it? André Boisclair is next on the block, very soft-spoken. Promising bus pass tax breaks (no money for public transit, but plenty of money to give away to people using public transit), money for new homes and guaranteed $7 a day daycare. Yawn.

20h10: Jean Charest is wearing solid colours. He looks better than the other leaders. And he speaks better too. More relaxed than Dumont but not as soft as Boisclair.

20h16: First interruption, and our first argument is between Dumont and Charest.

20h21: Boisclair: “Hey! Remember me! I’m in this race too!” He nudges into the debate just as the first period ends in the Canadiens game.

20h28: Boisclair and Charest have a face-to-face. Charest is visibly annoyed at having to address a third party at a leaders’ debate.

20h29: “Mr. Charest, will you stop blaming others?” Zing!

20h42: The Islanders are 2-0 in the 2nd period.

20h44: Charest: Of course I’m green. Come on, can’t you see my tie? Stop talking numbers and budgets and stuff.

20h48: Boisclair proves he can count to four. But I think he used his fingers.

20h50: Pat Lagacé thinks Charest’s jacket is too big. I think it’s too dark. Looks like he’s trying to be cool.

20h53: Habs have narrowed the lead to 2-1. Mike Komisarek is bleeding. Dumont’s hands and head do a lot of moving, but the rest of his body stays perfectly still. Perhaps he’s wearing a brace or something.

20h56: Hold on, Boisclair’s talking. I have to turn the volume up again.

21h00: Dumont is blaming Charest for the Concorde bridge collapse. He’s trying to feign outrage while Charest pretends he’s never heard of road problems in his province.

21h04: Dumont mentions “problems with candidates”. Everyone take a sip.

21h05: 3-2 Islanders with five minutes left in the second.

21h07: Boisclair can’t get Dumont to utter a single number. For anything. Ask him what the sales tax is in Quebec and he’ll answer “it depends”.

21h10: Dumont: “Children are our top priority.” Makes sense. He started the party in elementary school, didn’t he?

21h14: Dumont, pointing to Charest and Boisclair: “Your family politics are the same.” Did he just call Charest gay?

21h15: Boisclair hands Dumont a softball asking him why he favours eliminating school boards. Instead of hitting it out of the park by explaining his platform, he goes on the defensive. Inexcusable.

21h17: Welcome Habs fans sticking aroung for the second intermission. Still losing 3-2 to the Islanders. Boisclair’s soft voice won’t be heard by people switching over from RDS at the Bell Centre.

21h20: Debating 101: When your opponent asks you a “yes or no” question, the first word out of your mouth should be “yes” or “no”. Then you go on to your three-hour explanation.

21h21: Charest to Boisclair: You’re insulting Quebecers’ intelligence if you tell them the money you invest in health care doesn’t come from their pockets. Score one for Charest, hypocritical as he may be.

21h22: Charest mentions Lucien Bouchard. Is that part of the drinking game?

21h27: Where’s this road nobody’s holding? Does it need a hug?

21h30: Does Boisclair have a cold? He certainly couldn’t have lost his voice from talking too much.

21h34: Boisclair has referred to “the regions” so much I think the words have lost all meaning to him.

21h38: Lucien Bouchard. Bernard Landry. Robert Bourassa. Have any former premiers not been mentioned yet?

21h40: Jacques Parizeau. And Charest throws in a reference to Gilles Duceppe too, while incredulously suggesting that Boisclair is the one interrupting everyone.

21h43: Boisclair is coming into his element here, combining humour and calm resolve. He might win over some voters who think the other two are blowhards.

21h44: “Le Canada anglais.” Does that include me?

21h45: Here comes the demerger/agglomeration debate. Still 3-2 almost halfway through the third period.

21h48: Guillaume Latendresse ties the game up just before the 9-minute mark of the 3rd. Say goodbye to the Habs fans for the next half hour… and possibly me too.

21h51: Fiscal imbalance. Take another sip.

21h54: Dumont is trying to paint Charest and Boisclair with the same brush in all their policies, and failing miserably, while reminding people of how right-of-centre some of his policies really are.

21h55: Chris Higgins makes it 4-3 Habs. Screw this, I’m watching the game.

21h57: Boisclair calls Dumont’s platform “improvised”. Kind of hard to argue with that when he hasn’t even figured out a budget yet.

21h59: The moderator struggles to stretch his closing. He finally gives up and we have a longish musical finish.

22h07: Wooo! 5-3 baby! Cage Aux Sports has to fork out the wings now. And New York pulls the goalie.

22h09: Lagacé asks who won the debate. I think it was Guillaume Latendresse. Make him premier.

22h25: I like that CPAC will give me raw French or English without insisting on translating one of the languages. TVA, RDI and CPAC are the only ones to carry post-debate scrums. And CPAC is supplementing it with post-debate analysis, though their graphics aren’t as fancy as the others.

22h29: This overpass collapse deal is going to be the story of the debate. That might hurt Charest, but I think it’s going to backfire on Dumont.

That’s it folks. Now I have to get back to work.

One thought on “And they’re off

  1. Josh

    I couldn’t help it. I had to come back.

    I think Charest’s hair looks absolutely ridiculous when shot straight on, but I can’t quite say why. He looks normal in profile shots, though.

    I’m surprised CBC Montreal doesn’t have this on the TV side. The other two don’t surprise me. But it does mean that Anglo Quebec will have only 15 minutes of local coverage of this max tonight, huh?


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