"I met a young man in Winnipeg who was poised between falling into a gang or finishing high school that's the critical moment in crime prevention, if he gets a learning passport, you may save him from falling in a gang, if your serious about crime, get the pivot right so he makes the right choice, you can lock people up forever, but I worked in prisons, I worked with lifers, but the one thing I know is that it makes almost everybody worse, that's what we've learned, you keep slapping people in there forever, your going to end up with more crime problems not less, we need to have an adult strategy and that's what we haven't had from the Harper government."
The problems with the Liberal debate strategy did not stop there. Having Ignatieff endlessly repeat common Liberal talking points all but eliminated the chances of Ignatieff delivering a knockout blow. It is easy to defend what you know is coming. When attacking, the element of surprise is important.
The key to shutting down an opponent's attack is a quick fact laden response. Silences, pauses, stumbling starts and long drawn out explanations are all deadly. Stephen Harper was particularly successful in fending off attacks and is generally pretty good in this regard albeit not because his responses are substantive but because his delievery is polished. However, the best example of a defensive action on the night was by Duceppe. It was both polished and substantive. Harper mounted a formidable attack on the gun registry and Duceppe torn the talking point to shreds.
Stephen Harper But what farmers and hunters keep asking is why every time there's a crime problem in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, there's suddenly more rules slapped on and more registrations slapped onto them in rural Canada. That has not been an effective measure to control crime. Every single elected police officer in the House of Commons has voted against the long gun registry, we need to focus on crime and on gun control that works and cost effective.
Duceppe:I would say that most of the Bloc members are in rural sectors. And the question between rural sectors and the city. Calgary is not a rural sector and you are against that eh? So when I look at the results that say 80% of people elected in Quebec support the gun registry, 62% of people elected in the rest of Canada want to abolish the gun registry. The real division was between Canada and Quebec that day.
Mounting an attack is different. You want to slow things down and you clearly lay out the issue. If you successfully wound your opponent, let him flounder. However, if your opponent is about to finish or is simply trying to run out the clock, do not be afraid to quickly interject. You want to draw out his answer as much as possible. Layton's attack on Ignatieff's attendance record was easily the best executed attack of the night. It was text book.
Layton: I have to pick up on something Mr. Ignatieff said, he said before you have to walk the walk and be a strong leader, and respect parliament, I've got to ask you then, why do you have the worst attendance record of any member of the house of Parliament? If you want to be Prime Minister, you've got to learn how to be a member of the House of Commons first. You know most Canadians, if they don't show up for work, they don't get a promotion.
Ignatieff:Mr. Layton, I don't surrender to anybody in respect for the institution of parliament and my obligation to the people that put me there. So don't give me lessons on respect for democracy (Layton interjecting) don't give me lessons
Layton: Where were you, where were you when I was standing up to Mr. Harper and voting against his policies, and you weren't in the chamber? You missed 70 percent of the votes, I think you need to understand a little more about how our democracy works that's my only point.
Easily the dumbest comment of the night was by Jack Layton. He said to Stephen Harper
"you used to care about the environment".