Media weigh in on English-language debate

OTTAWA: No clear winner (or loser) emerged from the English-language leaders' debate Thursday night. But in the ensuing media coverage , the Green Party's Elizabeth May may have edged out her more experienced political opponents.

OTTAWA: No clear winner (or loser) emerged from the English-language leaders' debate Thursday night. But in the media coverage following, the Green Party's Elizabeth May may have edged out her more experienced political opponents.

Most media acknowledged that each of the leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, had their strong moments, but that it was May who generated some of the best reviews among media.

A headline in The Globe and Mail read “Harper ahead, but May wins the night”. In the story, Darrell Bricker, president of pollster Ipsos-Reid, is quoted saying about May: “I think a political star was born”.

In the National Post, popular columnist Stephen Taylor wrote: “Elizabeth May surprised last night as she was the most sober of the opposition leaders…[and] brought a fresh face to the stage for Canadians to consider.”

Ken Evans, VP of Apex Communications in Toronto, said May benefited from the fact that most Canadians had never seen the former lawyer speak before.

“She had good proof points—with metrics, data, and examples—and so from a credibility/communication point of view, she performed very, very well,” said Evans. “And because of the way she communicated and by being specific in her examples, she was able to get across that voting Green isn't such a radical departure [versus the other parties].”

Shael Gelfand, VP of Peak Communicators in Calgary, agreed that May was the debate's best communicator. He also gave her points for wearing proper attire. In the French debate the night prior, May wore a sweater and looked out of place among the four male leaders; for the English debate, she wore a suit.

“She looked more business like. Her message and look conveyed that the Green Party isn't made up of just a bunch of granola heads,” said Gelfand. “I think she helped move the Green Party to a more comfortable place for a lot of Canadians.”

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