The House

In House panel: turning point?

Our In House panelists Rosemary Barton and Andrew Coyne discuss this week's economic debate and what factors could start to create separation between the three main parties.
Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, and Tom Mulcair shake hands before the leaders' debate on the economy in Calgary. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Getting your message out — and standing out — in a tight race is key in leaders' debates, but it's hard to do. What will it take to get some separation in this race? And with all the focus on the economy, are there any political stories slipping under the radar?

Our In House panelists are here to discuss. Rosemary Barton is the host of CBC News Network's Power & Politics, and Andrew Coyne is a columnist for iPolitics and PostMedia

Was the economic debate a turning point in the campaign?

AC: I didn't see any particular thing that I thought was going to drive a lot of votes, but we never know. We in the journalism community are always trying to call winners and look for knock-out blows. Oftentimes debates do have an impact, but the impact emerges over time and they're not necessarily predictable. 

RB: I don't see the log-jam or the dead heat pulling apart in any dramatic way. But I do think there were some interesting moments. The way Justin Trudeau came out so aggressive...I think that, at the very least, called attention to him. I just don't know if that was overly convincing. The other thing that surprised me, frankly, was the Stephen Harper didn't really do a great job at painting the other two as high-risk. 

AC: Definitely in terms of tone, I thought Harper and Mulcair looked more at ease discussing the subject matter. I don't think it's any accident that Trudeau was shouting a lot more. That's what you do when you're not quite on top of the subject matter. 

Stephen Harper isn't varying his plan. What does that suggest to you?

AC: Maybe he didn't succeed in scaring people off the other parties, but he did look like someone who was relaxed and convinced of the rightness of his own course. And for a lot of voters, that's what they're trying to decide — do you believe yourself in what you're saying?

RB: The fight is really between the Liberals and the NDP, and that's where we're going to see things intensify in the weeks ahead. Stephen Harper can bank on people not deciding clearly on one camp or the other, and then what do you know, he comes up the middle and ends up with some sort of minority government.