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Mission accomplished? You decide

A rundown on how the party heads performed at the televised debate

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Greg Selinger

What he needed to do:

Selinger had to drive home the message that Manitoba has been a good place to live with the New Democrats at the helm. "He’s got to remind people of how well things are going in Manitoba and that he’s got the energy and optimism to take it to the next level," NDP campaign manager Michael Balagus said beforehand.

What he accomplished:

As the incumbent, he faced most of the tough questions and held his own in the debate with the other leaders. He scored the tactical victory of the evening when he got Gerrard to admit he had made a mistake in supporting a Conservative budget amendment in 2010 that would have cut $500 million from government spending.

Best sound bite:

Selinger took aim at McFadyen for a campaign statement that a Tory government would not be able to balance the books until 2018.

"He’s the one that’s proposing to run deficits for eight years. He’s the one that’s planning to rack up the debt over the next eight years in a completely reckless manner. (In) the next term of office, if Mr.

McFadyen was the government, they would never have to balance the books. That’s just not acceptable."

Post-debate spin:

Asked after the debate why he didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to aim a question at his chief nemesis, Hugh McFadyen, Selinger said the Tory leader would have ducked the question. "I give Jon Gerrard credit. He admitted he made a mistake. At least he knew what he was doing and he knew it was wrong."


Jon Gerrard

What he needed to do:

Gerrard needed to appear like the voice of reason, the sensible nice guy, while front-runners Selinger and McFadyen duked it out. Landing a well-placed and memorable shot at a foe would be a bonus (think Jack Layton catching Michael Ignatieff off guard over the Liberal leader’s House of Commons attendance record earlier this year).

What he accomplished:

Gerrard rarely scored points in his exchanges with other leaders, although he performed best on the question of health care. He likely never anticipated that Selinger would use his one allotted question of another leader to direct one at him — and not Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen. But he probably received credit from viewers for admitting he would have voted a different way in the legislature on a budget amendment vote, given a second chance.

Best sound bite:

"The image that people have of your 12 years (in government) is of Brian Sinclair dying in the emergency room after waiting unattended for 34 hours... We’ve got far better solutions," he said referring to the death at Health Sciences Centre of a man confined to a wheelchair who was awaiting treatment.

Post-debate spin:

"I think Manitobans respect politicians who are forthright and clear in their answers and admit that there may be mistakes sometimes," Gerrard said when asked if he might have lost one round when he admitted to Selinger he made a mistake by voting for a Conservative amendment on a budget vote. He also took consolation that the premier saved his one question for him, rather than McFadyen, suggesting this means the Liberals have built up some campaign momentum.


Hugh McFadyen

What he needed to do:

According to the Conservative brain trust, Mc-Fadyen needed to emphasize that the New Democrats have failed to live up to their promises during 12 years in power and are now resorting to fear-mongering about the Tories to cling to power.

What he accomplished:

McFadyen emphasized his party’s position hallway medicine hasn’t been cured and the provincial debt, now at about $19 billion, has only increased because of NDP deficit spending — a hole that can only filled by the NDP by raising taxes.

Best sound bite:

"You don’t want Manitobans to know about that Mr. Selinger, which is why you’re spending the entire campaign focused on attacking Mr. Filmon (former Tory premier Gary Filmon) with phoney numbers.

I think you need to do better, sir, and I think Manitobans deserve better than what you’re offering."

Post-debate spin:

While McFadyen got most his message out to Manitobans, he found himself shut out of the debate when Selinger went after Gerrard instead of the Tories on a PC budget amendment, a move the NDP claims would gut public stimulus spending to fight off the recession.

"I think it’s odd that he would launch an attack at me through Dr. Gerrard," McFadyen said. "I suspect he didn’t want to give me an opportunity to respond because if he did I would have set the record straight."

James Beddome

What he needed to do:

When you’re largely an unknown, it’s good to make a good first impression. Most Winnipeggers are probably wondering what the Green Party of Manitoba stands for other than an obvious desire to protect the environment.

What he accomplished:

Beddome played the perfect foil to the other three leaders and was the best performer of the night. He also got more one-liners in than the others — some were stinging.

Plus, getting equal time with the three other party leaders on provincewide television was in itself a victory.

Best sound bite:

"The reason why our (hydro) rates are being driven up is because of new developments. I’ll point out to Mr. McFadyen it’s not just Bipole III," Beddome said to Selinger. "Gary Filmon was smart enough to say no to Conawapa because he knew it would drive up our energy rates. Are you?"

Post-debate spin:

For anyone doubting the Greens, Beddome made it loud and clear they are a force to be recognized.

"I think we could change the tone of the legislature," Beddome said. "I really do. I’m hoping we can get in there. It’s going to be a push, but we’re not going anywhere one way or the other."

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