The Current

3 undecided voters on why the federal leaders' debate disappointed

The six federal party leaders who went head-to-head in Monday's election debate hoped to help voters make up their minds. But three undecided voters who watched it unfold told The Current they've still got a tough choice to make.

'I think Canadians, overall, we want specifics,' says Bryan Stewart of South Surrey, B.C.

Jarret Leaman, left, Allie MacDonald-Campbell, and Bryan Stewart are still undecided about which party they will vote for after watching Monday night's federal leaders' debate. (Submitted by Jarret Leaman/Submitted by Allie MacDonald-Campbell/The National))

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The six federal party leaders who went head-to-head at Monday night's election debate hoped to help voters make up their minds. But three undecided voters told The Current that after watching the two-hour event, none emerged with a crystal-clear idea of who will get their vote.

Interim host Laura Lynch spoke to the them about their takeaways from the English-language debate.

Bickering 'turned me off'

Allie MacDonald-Campbell is a student at Cape Breton University, where she's pursuing an education degree. 

The issues that particularly matter to her are climate change and the rights of LGBTQ people.

MacDonald-Campbell voted for the Liberals in 2015, excited about Justin Trudeau's messages of positivity and change. 

This campaign, however, she's feeling far less excited about the party and has been considering voting for the NDP. But she worries that not voting Liberal would increase the chances of a win for the Conservatives, who she doesn't feel represent her values.

She told Lynch that the debate did little to help her make up her mind, and that the barrage of cross-talk and bickering between candidates got in the way of her learning anything new.

"All the talking over each other kind of turned me off from the whole debate," she said.

Allie MacDonald-Campbell says that seeing candidates shouting over one another during Monday's federal leaders' debate turned her off. (Courtesy of Allie Campbell-MacDonald)

MacDonald-Campbell also said that what the candidates did manage to say felt scripted to her.

"I felt like the leaders took the questions and used them as opportunities to just reiterate their party platforms and things that we have already heard," she said.

The candidate that most impressed her, though, was Jagmeet Singh.

"I loved how he kept his composure the whole time," she said. "He answered questions. He didn't take personal attacks on the other candidates."

Trudeau's debate performance didn't persuade her to vote Liberal again.

"I feel like they're going for the young vote, but they aren't really resonating with us," she explained.

MacDonald-Campbell said she plans to spend some more time considering her local candidates before she makes a final decision.

'Canadians ... want specifics'

Bryan Stewart is a carpenter and project consultant for an engineering company in South Surrey, B.C. He usually votes either Liberal or Conservative.

The issue that matters most to him is housing affordability, something he was able to ask Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer about in person last week as part of The National's Face to Face series.

Bryan Stewart from Surrey, B.C., told Scheer he feels it’s hard for middle-class Canadians to make ends meet, and impossible for his family to own a home in a region where foreign investment is rampant. Stewart asks Scheer how he’ll put more money in the pockets of ordinary Canadians and level the playing field for those whose dream of purchasing a home is slipping out of reach. 6:20

Stewart told Scheer that he and his family have had to move twice in the past 18 months because they were evicted. Within that time, his family has gone from spending about 35 per cent of their after-tax income on rent, to spending about 60 per cent.

Stewart told The Current that after watching last night's debate, he was impressed by what Scheer had to say, but wishes the Conservative party leader had spent more time talking about policy and less time attacking Trudeau.

"I think Canadians can already evaluate Justin Trudeau's record," he said. "I want to hear specifically how the Conservatives would do government differently, and I didn't hear a lot of specifics or new policies from Andrew Scheer."

Stewart said that, overall, he heard too few concrete plans from any of the candidates, particularly on housing affordability. 

"I think Canadians, overall, we want specifics," he said. "We want action items."

He said he plans to attend his local all-candidates meeting and, like MacDonald-Campbell, weigh his decision most heavily on his local candidate.

Candidates 'silent' on Indigenous issues

Jarret Leaman is an Anishinaabe member of Magnetawan First Nation, south of Sudbury, Ont., and is on the board of the Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

He had hoped to see Indigenous issues play a prominent role in the debate, but came away disappointed. 

"It was such a big topic in the last election and it's now silent," Leaman said.

Jaret Leaman says he was disappointed that candidates didn't spend more time discussing Indigenous issues. (Courtesy of Jarett Leaman)

Even though a section of the debate focused on Indigenous issues, "there wasn't much there," Leaman said. "It kind of got skewed over into other topics while that section was happening."

Leaman has been considering voting either Liberal or NDP, and said he emerged from the debate leaning more toward casting his vote for the Liberals. 

"My perspective on this is that we do have a commitment to reconciliation with the Liberal government," he said. 

While he said that he thought it was understandable that many Indigenous people are angry about how the Liberal government has treated Indigenous issues over the past four years, "there's almost nothing [in the Conservatives' platform] on Indigenous issues."

"And I think that I want to go with someone that has a demonstrated experience in this space because it is about ... longer-term relationship building," he said.

Leaman said he plans to watch the next French-language debate before making up his mind.

Written by Allie Jaynes. Produced by Samira Mohyeddin, Julie Crysler and Danielle Carr