Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A chance for contrast

There are plenty of questions from numerous sides about how to handle Canada's federal leaders' debates. But let's give the media consortium credit for recognizing the opportunity presented by the debates which isn't available for the balance of the campaign:
There won't be any opening remarks this time. Each 117-minute debate will start with a pre-recorded question from the public. The leaders won't know in advance what questions they'll be asked.

Two of the leaders will face off for six minutes, then the other two leaders will be able to join in for a 13-minute discussion.

The whole cycle will be repeated five times before closing remarks, which will be limited to 45 seconds for each leader for a total of three minutes.

"We didn't even want the closing statements but the parties pushed for it," said Bulgutch. "Giving up three minutes of time seems like a reasonable compromise to me."
So rather than spending a lot of time having the leaders merely repeat their chosen messages (which of course they're able to do at nearly every other point throughout the campaign), the consortium is looking to encourage as much interaction as possible. Which should rightly make it awkward for anybody using the debates to repeat talking points or trying to avoid a tough issue - while hopefully rewarding genuine challenges and contrasts among the leaders involved.

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