It’s hard to say who won the all candidates’ debate Wednesday, but it’s fair to say it wasn’t Ryan Leef.
When the Conservative candidate said the current government represented all Canadians, he was met with loud boos from the audience.
He followed that up with a claim there was a functional government in Ottawa.
After that statement, the razzing got so bad that it prompted the Green Party’s John Streicker spring to Leef’s defence.
“I have to ask you to please be respectful,” said Streicker. “It’s hard to get up here and do this.”
While Leef got the most jeers, he also received the biggest laugh of the night when he said that if elected he would have Streicker sitting on his lap all the time.
A blushing Streicker said he wanted to debate that point.
What Leef was trying to say is that he wouldn’t let partisan interests stop him listening to good ideas, and would defer to Streicker’s expertise on environmental issues.
The unintentional joke certainly lightened the mood.
The debate hosted by the CBC was held in the back room of the Gold Rush Inn.
It was broadcast throughout the territory on CBC Radio One.
The public broadcaster took questions from both the audience of about 150 people, and from the communities over phone.
There was more back and forth on Wednesday than in previous debates, but there was still a lot of agreement across party lines.
On motherhood issues, like violence against woman, there wasn’t any argument. All the parties are against such things.
On more partisan matters, most candidates stuck to their playbooks, despite a challenge from Streicker to abandon talking points.
Ryan Leef kept touting the low-tax policies of his party.
Streicker stressed the need for more decorum and less party bickering in Parliament.
While Liberal incumbent Larry Bagnell chose to rely on his record and experience, having served as the representative of the Yukon for more than a decade.
But it was the NDP’s Kevin Barr who stuck closest to his manual.
For much of the debate he read statements directly from a binder.
But it didn’t stop him from connecting with the audience.
Speaking in support of things like proportional representation and reproductive rights, he got rounds of applause.
When a caller asked for the candidates’ opinions of the Conservative government cancelling funding to organizations that provide abortions overseas, Leef found himself in another awkward spot.
All the other candidates came out as unequivocally pro choice.
“We’d reaffirm a woman right for safe abortion services,” said Barr.
Leef didn’t even try to defend his party’s actions.
“His philosophy is well said,” said Leef, in reference to Barr’s statement. “Beyond that, I’ll not go into it.”
It was prudent move.
When Streicker asked the crowd if they were pro choice, he got a resoundingly positive response.
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