Uncertainty over importance of debates

There’s some doubt as to whether the national leaders’ debates had any influence on voters.

Gilles Duceppe, Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton took to the TV during the English language debate Tuesday and the French Wednesday.

“I’d be interested in how many Canadians watched it and how many already had their minds made up?” said Colin Mayes, Conservative candidate.

Liberal candidate Janna Francis also isn’t convinced the debates are critical to party success.

“They are just one of the things people can pay attention to and they can get a sense of the leadership qualities,” she said.

Nikki Inouye, NDP candidate, believes there was some merit to the debates.

“There is a lot of voters out there that are still uncertain who they will support so perhaps listening to the leaders debate will help them decide,” she said.

Not surprisingly, the Okanagan-Shuswap candidates stand behind their specific leaders that participated Tuesday.

“Jack Layton looked great and I think he is on his way to even more supporters,” said Inouye, who believes Harper exaggerated support from national organizations about the budget.

Mayes is confident Harper’s message resonated with electors.

“All of the fellows I have coffee with are candid and they said the prime minister did well and showed his credibility,” said Mayes.

Mayes gives Layton credit for challenging Ignatieff over his attendance record in Parliament.

“This is a man that talks about democracy and yet voting and being there is part of democracy,” said Mayes.

Francis defends Ignatieff, pointing out that this was his first election debate as Liberal leader.

“Mr. Ignatieff held Mr. Harper to account and talked abut what we have to offer,” said Francis, adding that she wasn’t impressed with Harper.

“He was condescending to the Canadian people and didn’t present any ideas Canadians can grasp on to.”

Watching from the sidelines was the Green Party after the broadcasters refused to let leader Elizabeth May take part.

“She would have brought us to more specifics on topics,” said candidate Greig Crockett.

Crockett is critical of Harper’s role in the debate.

“There was an eerie disassociation of Harper to the participants in the room. There was a repeating of a robotic mantra,” said Crockett.

“It exemplifies his approach to Parliament, voters and democracy.”