'Old stock Canadians,' egg timer, creepy set top debate's odd moments

The topic of discussion in Thursday's federal leaders' debate was Canada's flagging economy, but there were plenty of other moments in the evening that caught viewers' attention.

Moderator David Walmsley's Irish accent and a ringing bell get reaction on social media

Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Tom Mulcair shake hands before the Globe and Mail leaders' debate in Calgary. The debate's set — an eerily lit Parliament vista — drew plenty of remarks online. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair were focused on the country's economy — and on trading shots at each other — during the Globe and Mail leaders' debate, but there were plenty of other things that caught the attention of viewers Thursday night.

A "creepy" set, a forceful moderator and Harper's reference to "old stock Canadians" top our list of some of the debate's most oddly memorable moments.

The set

The Globe's choice of a purple-tinged image of Ottawa's Parliament Buildings as the debate's backdrop, even though the debate was being held in Calgary, drew plenty of online ire.

Of course, it could have simply been a deliberate statement, as one tweeter pointed out.

'Old stock Canadians'

Foreign policy made its way into the Globe and Mail's debate on the economy as Harper, Trudeau and Mulcair tackle the Syrian refugee crisis. 2:23

Perhaps the most puzzling line delivered Thursday night came from Harper, in response to a question on refugee policy.

Clarifying previous comments on refugees, Harper said that he would "bring in more" than in the past, but that "we do not offer them a better health-care plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. I think that's something that new and old stock Canadians can agree with."

The question of what, exactly, defines an "old stock Canadian" quickly turned Twitter into a debate stage of its own.

Of course, there were some who believed that the campaign trail had already given us the answer.

The moderator has 'taken' control

Moderator David Walmsley's frequent interjections — and his accent — had people online comparing him to Taken star Liam Neeson. (Mike Sturk/Reuters, 20th Century Fox)

Globe and Mail editor in chief David Walmsley joined the three candidates on stage as the moderator and made sure he got in his fair share of action as the evening unfolded. Walmsley repeated questions to the candidates when he was unsatisfied with an answer, and even added quips of his own, including capping Trudeau's answer on climate change by saying, "I think we're hearing a lot of skating."

Walmsley's Northern Irish accent also drew some attention, with some viewers comparing it to that of action star Liam Neeson:

'So far, the egg timer has my vote'

The debate's breakout star may have been its timing instrument. While the three leaders were frequently talking over one another during the night, the familiar "ding!" of what sounded like an egg timer rang out to signal time was up. In the end, the ringing bell might be what sticks in Canadians' heads more than any of the participants' talking points.

CBC's own Peter Mansbridge got in on the fun following the debate on The National:

By the end of the night, the timer had its own Twitter account and was taking down would-be contenders to its throne:

No word yet on whether the egg timer is considering a run in the next federal election.

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