ALBERTA VOTES 2008

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Reporters' Notebook

Debate notes: Liberals like press releases

February 22, 2008 | 11:21 AM
John ArcherJohn Archer

While the leaders and some of my colleagues were a few walls away under the bright studio lights during Thursday night's leaders' debate, I was in the media area watching the proceedings on a big screen TV.

It would be generous to call it a "room." Black curtains lined the edges of an area about the size of a two-car garage in a maintenance area at Global Edmonton.

We were watching the "clean feed" of the debate so when others got commercials or analysis, the electric-guitar laden theme just played over and over for three minutes. It was a welcome respite when they went back to the debate.

The various campaign teams were analyzing and making notes as you would expect them to do. But something I didn't expect was receiving a news release about the debate while the debate was still going on.

At 7:30 p.m., the Alberta Liberals circulated a missive attacking Tory Leader Ed Stelmach's performance to that point. The title was "Stelmach proves he's not up to the job of premier" and the first line read "Bumbling PC Leader Ed Stelmach descended into a fit of drivel and disinformation in the part one of the televised leaders' debate."

ab-taft-debate2.jpg
Liberal Leader Kevin Taft did not voice the strong language included in news releases handed out by the party during the debate. (CBC)

It then went on to use quotes from the debate and a list of stats to try to back up their claim. NDP Leader Brian Mason wasn't left out; he was accused of being "short on the truth."

But there was more.

Just 15 minutes later, more paper was handed out. This one titled, "Bumbling Stelmach unravels in second part of leaders' debate."

In this one, "desperate Tory fibbing" caught my eye in the first line. Mason was targeted on the issue of hard caps for carbon emissions, and an NDP amendment in the legislature last year was termed a "completely useless NDP stunt."

Wow! That is some strong language and inflammatory rhetoric. But why wasn't this brought to life in voice by Kevin Taft when he was face to face with his opponents rather than simply typed out on Liberal party letterhead? Is the leader going to put a voice to these accusations in the last week of the campaign? We'll see.

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