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Debate was dull – but just what we needed

Forgive me if I don’t join the Lower Mainland media in fawning over Green leader Sonia Furstenau’s performance in Tuesday’s leaders’ debate.

She did OK, but she didn’t shine.

In fact, all three leaders did OK. There were no knock-out punches (which the media is always hoping for) or major stumbles (which the media is also always hoping for). No, Tuesday’s debate was kind of dry and, given events south of the border recently, that’s a good thing.

There was one question that caught all leaders off-guard … white privilege. Furstenau had the best answer, saying she couldn’t imagine telling a child that they are not safe because the colour of their skin.

Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson talked about delivering an indigenous baby (we’re assuming) in Lillooet and that the baby is named after him (did he mention he’s a doctor?). He also said he’s continuing to learn.

NDP leader John Horgan said growing up playing lacrosse he had plenty of black and South Asian friends for whom he didn’t see colour. Trigger. While he likely meant he didn’t treat them any differently than anyone else, a white guy saying he is colour blind is not acceptable.

Horgan apologized and clarified his remarks immediately following the debate and is still facing questions today.

Will it be enough to turn the tide of the election? I don’t think so. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in blackface is much worse, and he’s still prime minister.

The debate had some good interactions between the leaders, so who won? I don’t think there was any clear winner, nor was there a clear loser.

Furstenau had to show that, as a new leader, she belongs on the stage. She did that.

Wilkinson had to park his grouchy side at the door, which he managed to do, but he couldn’t shake the albatross that is the Liberals’ record from when they were in power. And it came from both Horgan and Fursteneau.

Horgan had to look and sound like a premier, which he did, and not lose his cool like he did in 2017 against Christy Clark, which he did. Other than the white privilege snafu, he performed well. He even managed to corner Furstenau with by talking about the good things they accomplished through the Confidence and Supply Agreement (that he subsequently ripped up) and Furstenau had no option but to agree and, basically buoy up Horgan.

Wilkinson had, earlier, tried a similar tactic on Furstenau to no avail. When it was his turn to ask one of the other leaders a question, he pointed to some horrible, horrible thing Horgan had done and then asked Furstenau what she thought of a leader like that, obviously hoping she would rip into Horgan with a scathing rebuke. (Heh, heh.)

She didn’t bite and easily pivoted to something else.

While there were some good exchanges in the debate and some talking over each other (mostly Horgan saying “not true” when Wilkinson was talking), it was a debate. It wasn’t a spectacle or a s***show. It was a chance for British Columbians to get a good look at the three who would be premier.

Will it change the outcome on October 24? Probably not, but it’s still a worthwhile exercise.

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