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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Political Debates Canadian Style

The debates among the leaders of the political parties in the Canadian Federal Election begin tonight. It will be interesting to compare them with the American political debates. Two obvious differences is that in the Canadian debates will have 5 participants as opposed to two. Also, in Canada there are two debates. The one tonight is in French and the English one is tomorow night (opposite the US Vice Presidential Debate). [ This is a cynical decision of the broadcaster. Since they must provide prime time space at the minimal charge, they put it opposite the US debate since their revenue would be low there if they had regular broadcasting at thst time.]

I shall watch the French debate tonight,( a good test of my struggle with French comprehension.)

One of my favourite radio progammes, C'Est La Vie, which tries to share with English Canada what is interesting in French Canada, had a show with discussed the quality of the French language skills of the debaters. It ranges widely. Only Stephane Dion and Gilles Duceppe are native French speakers. The others have French as a second language.

Here is the evaluation as I remember it. Stephen Harper, (Conservative) has been improving his French. As Prime Minister he has been called upon to use it more. He has also made a real effort to have his party gain acceptance in Quebec so he has worked hard at improving his French. Stephane Dion, (Liberal) speaks wonderful French, refined and gramatically perfect. He had a career as an academic. It is his English that is painful, as a result of a hearing problem, for which he has been unfairly criticised. I heard him on the radio talking to callers and he was very good and managed to explain clearly the wisdom of the carbon tax his party is promoting as a way to decrease carbon emissions. It is a way of shifting the tax burden to environmental damaging things and reducing the tax on income.

Unfortunately, Stephane Dion cannot win linquistically. In Quebec, they criticise him for not speaking "popular" French. I guess he is seen as elitist. Gilles Duceppe, (Bloc Quebecois) speaks just the right Quebec French that makes him acceptable in all level of the community. Jack Layton,(New Democrats) who grew up in Quebec speaks French which is not consistent in the idiom and style . (Perhaps, he gets interference with his Mandarin Chinese, which he also speaks.) Elizabeth May (Green Party), who crashed the old boys club and got herself invited to the debate, is from British Columbia and is the weakest in French. She is a fiesty speaker and will be mixing it up unabashedly. She will get high marks for trying. I hope I did not misrepresent what the programme reported. It will be interesting to see how they interact.

French Canadians are very forgiving of the French speech of English Canadians. What is important is that one tries to speak French. They are very patient and appreciative. After you have tried and are having trouble they will say, "Say it in English." Where I live the custom is, where there is a group of people and one person speaks only English the French Canadians all switch to English. Unlike some of my Anglo neighbours I am not offended if French speakers speak French in front of me. I sometimes even say "It's OK go ahead and speak French." If there is something I want to know I will ask. I had an elderly Anglo neighbour who used to say to French nieghbours in a very sarcastic tone, "I don't speak French , but my English is real good!" (With his fourth grade educacation it was not all that good). I think he felt threatened and at a disadvantage. Awe !!,the politics of language in Canada!

Political debates in the US tend to be not debates at all but parallel monologues. It would be nice if they followed a more formal debating format speaking to an issue interacting with each other.. The Canadian debate, with five participates, sitting around a table may result in a more relaxed give and take. There will still be two sides to the Canadian Debate. Everyone will be attacking Stephan Harper, who is leading in the polls and who was Prime Minister in the Conservative Government. A side debate will be Jack Layton vying to become the leader of the opposition if he can displace the faultering Liberals. Gilles Duceppe, who has been trying to justify his party's existence among some in Quebec, while be relating every issue to Quebec, society and culture. Elizabeth May is a fresh face and an unknown quantity.

It would be fun if they behaved a little like the debaters on the CBC radio show The Debaters.
I try to never miss this funny show as a group of comedians debate topics (breaking all the rules, of course). In the end, there is a vote of the audience as to who is the "best Master Debater". (I love this verbal joke.)

I hope everyone enjoy the political debates. I don't think I will be able to resist watching the Biden/Palin debate. Governor Palin is so wrong and ill prepared to be a vice-President. She should step back. "I cannot do this job. I thought I could. I have a very young handicapped child and a teenager going through a life changing experience. They need their mother. I have ask that another candidate replace me." Sadly, this will not happen. I hope I will not feel embarassed for her during the debate.


At 1:46 p.m., Blogger Peggy said...

i have to disagree with you on Palin. If left to speak for herself and not what she has been coached to say I think she will hold her own. She is as prepared for VP as the other side is for President. He has no foreign experience either. He has a hard time taking a stand. Instead of voting one way or another he chose to vote present so it wouldn't hurt him when running for president. But thats what life is about. Everyone having their own opinion. I am not voting because she is a woman but because she and her running mate are a better choice for me. Sorry, I usually stay away from commenting on politics. LOL

At 3:08 p.m., Blogger possum said...

And the other side of the coin - I see Palin as an embarrassment to the nation... and old man and his beauty queens...
I have to disagree with Peggy - the only time Palin does well is when she can read from the teleprompter... Did you see the Katy Couric interview? When she had little simple questions, like on the plane, she did just fine - but being VP or, shudder, President is more than how you feel about the right to choose or your feelings about homosexuals. When asked REAL questions about governing and foreign policy, to say she can see Russia from her porch - give me a break! And the line about the Bridge to nowhere is not true - but she is sticking to it. How can you be an evangelical and be a barefaced liar at the same time? Somehow that seems to make the lie so much worse!

At 4:44 p.m., Blogger Paul said...

Palin is way out of her league. What was McCain thinking? The more I watch the American political process the more I'm ashamed to be a citizen. I prefer to be human, to be stateless.

At 7:15 p.m., Blogger Navigator said...

I actually think Obama and Palin are pretty equally matched in their lack of credentials for the top job. Perhaps it should be Obama that should say that he wants to devote more time for his children and is stepping out of the race. Why invent such an excuse? Oh yes, she is a woman. We never assume a man is supposed to put his children before his career.

Incidentally, I note that in an earlier blog you were describing Harry Truman as a war criminal for dropping the A-bomb on Japan. He also was a guy who had virtually no international credentials when he got the job. I don't agree with that analysis and I think Harry proved to be one of the more effective Presidents for a number of reasons.

However there does seem to be this peculiar theme that runs through American politics that it is better to elect joe blow, the guy next door that you have over for your bbq, and avoid at all costs electing somebody who be considered one of the "elites". Look at the lengths Obama has gone to making himself and his wife look like regular just regular folks. As Jon Stewart said, "I don't want to elect somebody to be President who is just like me, I want somebody who is smarter than me."

At 9:38 p.m., Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

The suggestion that I am sexist because I think children need their mother and she may require putting the children ahead of their career is somewhat unfair. As a single parent in a career I put my child ahead of a potential job. In the interview I was asked if I had to choose between the church and a child emergency what would I do. I immediately said I would choose my child first. I lost out on the job because the church felt I could not give the church 120% of my time and effort. I would like to know what the Palin's arrangement for their children is. Hopefuly it is that Mr Palin is prepared to be a full time stay at home Dad. Good for him. it is a serious commitment, I did it with only one child not five.

At 11:23 p.m., Blogger Mary said...


I will watch the Canadian debate on Thursday. I'm looking forward to see what our potential leaders have to say. I'm very undecided on how to vote in this election. I will not be voting as I regularly do because I detest the candidate. I will not vote for the other party because I have never done so and don't believe in their ability to lead the country.

Brandon asked me about how I was voting. I told him that Grandma's vote this time would be a protest vote. He told me he never intended to vote ever. Hence a lesson on one's duty to vote.

I have a post up about autism and how it is connected to candida if you are interested. It's interesting to say the least. I did a bit of research to learn more about it.

Love the cookstove. It will give you lots of warmth this winter. I wish I had had one when our furnace (only 2 years old) broke down twice in a week. It's finally fixed.

It looks like your leaves are turning. I enjoy the colors and cooler weather of autumn.

Take care, my friend.

At 7:15 p.m., Blogger Gretchen said...

What did you think of Palin's debating "style"? Her constant referring to her notes and refusing to answer the questions asked, but keeping to her talking points drove me insane!! She is an embarrassment and should step aside now. Being a heart beat away from being our Commander-in-Chief is the scariest thing I've even had to deal with.


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