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'Almost unwatchable': Vancouverites react to Canadian election debate

Did you watch it?
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Metro Vancouverites are expressing mixed emotions following the first English-language debate for the 44th Canadian federal election on Sept. 9, 2021.

Metro Vancouverites are expressing mixed emotions following the first English-language debate for the 44th Canadian federal election. 

Federal party leaders jousted over climate change, health care, foreign policy, the economy and Indigenous reconciliation during Thursday's (Sept. 9) debate — their last, best chance to sway voters before the Sept. 20 election.

Numerous locals have stated that they did not enjoy the debate, with many of them questioning whether they really got anything out of watching it. Several people noted that it was "confusing" while one person described it as "almost unwatchable." 

Vancouverites were divided on how moderator Shachi Kurl, who is also the president of the Angus Reid Institute, handled the debate. Still, many people commended her skill and kindness. Particularly, many people felt that she offered sound support to 18-year-old Marek McLeod when she said, "You've got this." The young Indigenous man asked party leaders an important and powerful question that many people say was the highlight of the evening. 

Multiple people also commented that the debate structure may have been one of its biggest issues, rather than its moderator. One local notes that they felt Kurl was a competent moderator in the previous B.C. election debate but that this one was hard to watch. "Was it the moderator’s fault, the format’s fault or was it just a "free for all" because people are scared?"

Speaking of the structure, many people felt the debate's format didn't allow each of the candidates ample time to discuss their platforms or defend their positions. 

The prime minister was on the defensive, but not all viewers agree with his handling of some accusations. While some of them felt the formatting didn't leave room for him to defend his policies, others felt he came off as "arrogant." 

Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet was also on the defensive, albeit for a different reason. People felt he spoke his mind most freely because he was catering to a specific group rather than all Canadians. 

For some people, Green Party leader Annamie Paul raised crucial points about Indigenous and female representation in politics.

As to who won the debate, many people felt it was difficult to pick a clear winner. If you ask the candidates themselves, Jamie Shaw feels that they would all say they won it (as well as anyone who ever participated in one of them). 

With files from the Canadian Press.