A few impressions that still stick in the morning:
—Jack Layton tossed in the meanest sly lines of the evening. Half way through the debate, he offered his crutch to Michael Ignatieff. By the end of the debate, Ignatieff might have appreciated the assist.
—Stephen Harper didn’t seem to be close to losing his temper and, for the first time for many, he was eager to explain himself on past economic, justice and parliamentary issues.
—Harper missed several chances to bring urgency to his theme that the recovery is “fragile” and that the country needs a stable government to create jobs. His government is in the midst of significant trade and border negotiations with Europe and the United States. He didn’t touch on the recent 5% appreciation of the Canadian dollar or the fiscal crisis in the US—they both threaten Canada’s recovery and export competitiveness.
—Ignatieff invested far too much time and goodwill in trying to rattle and upset Harper. And he relied almost entirely on extravagant language. The kind of language Harper doesn’t use and doesn’t seem to even hear.
—Ignatieff can’t stop using the word “cops” when talking about the police and justice issues. He should move on. The term is neither hip nor respectful.
—The most noteworthy unreported exchange was on multiculturalism. The Liberal and Conservative leaders reversed historic roles. While Ignatieff worried that we not “politicize” the question, Harper happily waxed on about the positive value of multiculturalism. Intriguingly, he went out of his way to defend multiculturalism in Quebec. This could loom large in the French Language debate tonight, and make waves elsewhere in the country.