Federal leaders duke it out at debate in Calgary
Stephen Harper, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau were in Calgary on Thursday night to debate their plans for the economy.
The trio tackled a variety of topics during the two hour exchange and discussed pipelines, taxes, infrastructure, and immigration policies and proposals.
Alberta is usually safe ground for the conservatives but Harper was hammered by his rivals over his party’s track record in the province.
“He’s supposedly the best friend that the Alberta energy industry has ever had and yet he’s been an absolute failure because he doesn’t understand that the only way to get energy projects built now is to understand that you cannot separate environment and economy,” said Trudeau.
The NDP leader also called Harper out for blaming the new Alberta premier for the province’s economic problems.
“Mr. Harper seems to forget that the conservatives were in power in this province for over 40 years and Rachel Notley’s got a very constructive, positive plan to start cleaning up some of the mess that was left here after more than 40 years of conservative rule,” said Mulcair.
Dozens of supporters showed up for the debate but so did the protestors, many who were angry that the economy has become the focus of this election.
"These leaders have been ignoring climate change, we want to make sure they can't ignore it and know that a strong economy means real action on climate change,” said Matt Hammer.
When the debate was over, each party claimed their leader had won but political experts say there was no clear winner.
“No, there wasn’t a clear winner and each of the party leaders were trying to sort of break away to make their policies, their leadership, their personality known clearly enough to Canadians to persuade them to vote for them. To move in a different direction than they have up until this point, in spite of the fact that the economy is number one on the list of most people’s concerns, none of the leaders, not even Mr. Harper, for whom this is allegedly his strong suite, managed to really break away from the others, to distinguish themselves and persuade a lot of Canadians that they’re the ones that deserve their vote,” said Lori Williams from Mount Royal University.
Williams says she thinks the leaders needed to simplify and clarify what their policies mean and they didn’t do that.
“You speak to people about what happened in the debate, it didn’t change very many people’s minds. It didn’t clarify and I think that’s the real tragedy, if you like, about last night’s debate is that it didn’t clarify some of these issues,” she said. “What they really care about is do they have policies to improve the economic condition for ordinary Canadians in the near future and I don’t think that was rendered clear at all.” she said.
CTV Calgary took our cameras to Team Smandych Muay Thai and Impact Boxing in Victoria Park to ask Calgarians who, if anyone, walked away with a knockout.
“I don’t know, I don’t think we’re seeing a clear winner. I mean, I think we’re seeing some differentiation, which is kind of nice for a change, but it was not the way I thought it was going to go, in terms of which party is falling where,” said Keith Driver.
“I don’t see a clear winner yet,” said Nate Smandych.
On Thursday, Trudeau visited the gym for a workout and a few rounds on the pads before the debate.
“Justin came by for a workout in the morning and it was cool to see him not in political mode, just to come and get his sweat on before the big debate,” said owner Trevor Smandych.
Many voters CTV News spoke to are still undecided who they will support but say there are still a number of weeks before Election Day for the parties to present their platforms and make an impression.
(With files from Chris Epp and Amanda Singroy)