Will Toronto Mayor Ford be watching NDP leadership debate (or is he still too busy with new photos of Veena Malik)?

Dec 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: In Brief

[UPDATE DECEMBER 4 : Initial impressions of first NDP/NPD leadership debate — SEE BELOW]. Tomorrow, Sunday 4 December 2011, at 2PM ET / 11AM PT, the nine (count em) contenders for the leadership of the New Democratic Party of Canada / Nouveau Parti démocratique du Canada will be holding their first debate in Ottawa — in both official languages.

Will you be watching? If you aren’t actually in Ottawa, it would seem you have at least two options. The Canadian Parliamentary Access Channel (CPAC) will be covering the thing live on its cable TV channel, if you happen to get that.  And CBC online will “have livestreaming video of the NDP leadership candidates debate on Sunday, Dec. 4 … Go to cbcnews.ca to watch …”

Back in the city Canadians most love to hate, there will no doubt be those who wonder if their current puffy Mayor Rob Ford will be watching this NDP leadership debate. (Study the enemy and all that.) A very good guess would seem to be probably NOT.

Others at the same time will wonder if, in the midst of his happy weekend with his family in  beautiful non-downtown Etobicoke, Mayor Ford has bumped into such intriguing global village news items as “FHM India releases new Veena Malik photo” ; “I didn’t pose naked for FHM, says Pakistani actress in hot water over nude photoshoot” ; “Veena bares all and then tries to cover up” ; and “Pakistani model Veena Malik’s nude photo causes fury.”

Again, another very good guess in this case would also be probably NOT. (On the other hand, who really knows what Rob Ford does when the Toronto Star isn’t watching him?)

Meanwhile, for what Mayor Ford is officially supposed to be doing with his time during the week, check out our latest Streetcar Named Rob Ford update: “Saturday 3 December 2011 : Ford nation may not have quite fallen apart yet … but it’s not even what it used to (pretend to) be?

[DECEMBER 4 UPDATE: For our very quick and dirty initial collective impressions of the first NDP/NPD leadership debate click on “Read the rest of this page” below and/or scroll down.]

Quick and dirty initial impressions of first NDP/NPD leadership debate in Ottawa, December 4, 2–4PM ET/11AM–1PM PT:

The presence of ROMEO SAGANASH from Northern Quebec and MARTIN SINGH from Nova Scotia in the debate was a great credit to the New Democratic Party of Canada / Nouveau Parti démocratique du Canada. Of course neither stands any chance of becoming the next party leader, but both performed quite credibly today.

ROBERT CHISHOLM from Nova Scotia did surprisingly well in the first English half of the debate, but was virtually not a participant in the second French half. And as observed on Dale Goldhawk’s CPAC de-briefing after the debate, about one quarter of the current NDP Quebec caucus speaks only French. The new leader has to speak French reasonably well — which certainly leaves out the otherwise interesting Mr. Chisholm.

NIKI ASHTON from Northern Manitoba and NATHAN CULLEN from Northern BC both performed above expectations. Again it seems axiomatic that neither can win, this time … But …  (and both did speak French at least reasonably well — as best we could tell!).

Among what the common wisdom had judged the four leading candidates, PAUL DEWAR from Ottawa gave the least impressive performance — though his size at least, and no doubt something about his demeanour, does seem to give him some commanding potential (?).

We would agree with what seems the general impression (from casual dips into  Dale Goldhawk’s CPAC de-briefing) that between the perhaps current two leading contenders, THOMAS MULCAIR from Quebec and BRIAN TOPP, the Montreal native who has also served as chief of staff to former Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow, Mr. Mulcair probably performed best today. Mr. Topp has strong things to say, but his physical presence and/or body language does seem to lack charisma — at this juncture at any rate.

According to our prominent inside sources, there is a “lot of ‘it won’t be Topp or Mulcair’ kind of talk” among party members at the moment. Common wisdom (again) would seem to say this opens doors for PEGGY NASH from Toronto. To us she just held her own today — and if she is the one who finally rises to the top between Topp and Mulcair, that will not be the best outcome for the future of the New Democratic Party of Canada / Nouveau Parti démocratique du Canada. (Some inside sources, on the other hand,  also say that, on “very much a long shot,” the ultimate anyone-but-Topp-or-Mulcair compromise victor just might be Nathan Cullen, who in our view would be better than Ms. Nash!).

A very final thought: in the end, and on balance, none of the nine candidates today quite struck us as a future prime minister of Canada.

At the same time, Mr. Harper may have set the bar for such things considerably lower than it used to be. And insofar as this is true enough, he ought to be worried by what happened at the first NDP/NPD leadership debate in Ottawa today.

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