I managed to watch the entire two hours of the debate. I thought that all the candidates put in a creditable performance. I was most surprised by the performance of Elizabeth May who on the whole did an excellent job. She managed to outline quite a few Green policies and also score some good points against Harper.
The CBC commentary afterward failed even to mention Gilles Duceppe. In my opinion most of his performance was excellent and he made some of the most trenchant points again Harper. If I were in Quebec I would be tempted to vote for him.
Dion did a reasonable job. He certainly did not make any gaffes and made some good points against Harper. He also defended Liberal policy reasonably well even on the Green Shift.
Harper was more reserved and less belligerent than I expected but I guess this is what his handlers demanded. Since a poll shows that most thought of Harper as doing well this policy may have paid off. However, I really did not think his defences were that strong. He did manage to outline quite a few Conservative policy positions though. One thing he said was just wrong. He did not ban exports of bitumen altogether but just to countries that have lower emission standards than we do. We still will be exporting plenty to the U.S.
I thought that Dion had the weakest performance even though it was not that bad and next in line I would put Harper. I think the three other parties had better performances than either of the main parties. Layton made some excellent points against Harper. He is clear and articulate and forceful in his presentations. However, I really cannot choose between he Duceppe and May as the other two also did quite well. Whether all this makes any difference it is difficult to know. Perhaps the Green vote might go up a bit and the Liberal vote stop falling. The strong critiques of Harper that often went unanswered should hurt the Conservatives but probably will not. Harper seems to have somehow managed to innoculate many people against appreciating how bad his policies are.