Painful Truth: Canadian debates I’d rather see

Maybe we could shake up the federal election debate format just a little?

Last week’s debate was… ugh.

I mean, it was fine. None of the four federal party leaders spontaneously combusted, no one started barfing pea soup and rotating their head 360 degrees, the ground did not open up to swallow them, and Gilles Duceppe wasn’t there.

But other than that, it was pretty dull. Yeah, we can talk about the ratio of actual policy to argument, and the degree to which they were charismatic, stiff, annoyingly off topic, and evasive.

I don’t want to base my vote on this kind of format. Frankly, where are the debates for someone like me, who is actually going to read party platforms and decide based on those? I don’t need to see people have a genteel bickerfest for two hours!

So here are some debate formats I’d rather see, which will be more fun for those of us who have either A) already made up our minds or B) will be making them up based on something other than who can hurl the best veiled insults.

• Defence: Risk Tournament, presented by the Canadian Forces.

Each candidate gets an outlandish faux-military uniform complete with bottle-cap medals, shako hats, cutlasses, and jodhpurs. Then they are packed into the basement of a games store and play multiple rounds of Risk, each taking turns starting in Australia. The winner gets to wear a special medal declaring them World Conquerer for the rest of the campaign.

• Debating Skills: Best Episode Ever.

Candidates must select their favourite episode of Star Trek and defend their choice using well-researched arguments, including defending their choice of Kirk vs Picard vs Sisko vs Janeway.

• The Economy.

All four candidates are given the amount of money the average single mother with two children has to spend per month, and must work out a budget that includes food, daycare, transportation, rent, and utilities. Part two involves doing the actual grocery shopping while minding two sticky, tired children.

• Foreign Affairs: With nothing but a compass, a Swiss army knife, and a chicken salad sandwich, each candidate is dropped at a random location somewhere on the planet, and must return to Canada without starting a diplomatic incident. Bonus points for anyone who learns some of the local language along the way. Candidates who do not return will not move on to the next round.

• Democratic Reform.

All candidates (literally all of them, from all 338 ridings) are stranded on a desert island for three weeks and must create a new democratic society. The ad revenue from Survivor: Parliamentary Reform Edition will be used to fund public campaigns for increased voter turnout.

• Corruption, sponsored by Just For Laughs.

A hidden camera crew will drop a wallet with $1,000 cash and no ID in front of each candidate while they are alone and believe themselves to be unobserved. Then we get to see what happens. That’s it.

• Multi-Partisan Cooperation.

The four main party leaders must build a spaghetti bridge that can support 10 kilos of weight. They must work together, and must agree on the design and division of labour necessary to complete the bridge. If the bridge collapses, we get new leaders.

• Voter Appeal: Pie fight.

Exactly what it sounds like. No lemon meringue or key lime allowed, as those can sting the eyes. There will be 500 pies, some tables to duck behind, and a half-hour time limit. The only winner will be the viewers.



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