Who won the first debate is a tough question to answer. I’ll give my thoughts one who said what, then try to give my impression of who won.
- Chris Alexander talked about increasing health spending.
- Maxime Bernier talked about shrinking the government, and made the audacious statement that Ottawa should get out of health care, moving the need to tax and all decision making to the provinces. He also said he would lower income tax.
- Steve Blaney, Pierre Lemieux, Lisa Raitt, and Andrew Scheer seemed to me to say very little that was original.
- Michael Chong was the sole supported of a carbon tax, though he did say he would reform it to be more like BC’s carbon tax. He also floated the idea of privatizing the CMHC.
- Kelly Lietch talked about capping government spending.
- Deepak Obhrai talked about giving government loans to business and government pharmacare.
- Kevin O’Leary talked about deregulation. He was one of the few who didn’t jump on minimum sentencing for sexual assault, which I think is commendable.
- Erin O’Toole talked about decreasing corporate taxes for small business.
- Rick Peterson talked about partially privatizing health care and kept touting his radical economic platform.
- Andrew Saxton talked about creating apprenticeship programs and partially privatizing healthcare.
- Andrew Scheer talked about lowering corporate and income taxes, but also emphasized his conservative social positions.
I’d say that two candidates stuck out as real contenders for me:
- Maxime Bernier really stood out with his plan to take Ottawa completely out of health care. Other candidates hammered him, calling this a losing policy, but I’m not convinced it wouldn’t be well received, and I’m a big believer in devolving powers that don’t need to be centralized.
- Kevin O’Leary did well. He was also hammered by the other candidates, but seemed to let it bounce off him. I liked the fact that he didn’t jump on the minimum sentencing band wagon.
Many of the candidates did little to separate themselves from the field. I think this race will get more interesting as we start to see some of the weaker candidates drop out.