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Restrictive format keeps debating to a minimum

It was a debate without much debate.

It was a debate without much debate.

The second and final election leaders’ debate took place yesterday in Baddeck. The three main party leaders took a wide range of questions from Nova Scotians, but because of the restrictive format, couldn’t really interact with each other.

Instead they each had one chance to speak per question, and then moved on. The candidates were clearly all trying for the same demeanour — calm, cool and collected.

Premier Rodney MacDonald stood from his chair and walked a couple steps forward each time he spoke, while NDP Leader Darrell Dexter and Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil remained seated when talking.

The leaders spent most of the debate outlining different parts of their platforms, while fitting in some mild swipes at each other.

There was one breach of rules when Dexter made a comment about how all three parties initially voted for gas regulation. McNeil, who wants to repeal legislation, tried to interject that the statement was misleading.

CBC debate host Norma Lee MacLeod shut him down.

“There was an amendment to that legislation,” McNeil said to Dexter.

“On a point of order, I’m sorry, the rules do not allow this,” MacLeod interrupted.

“When it’s inaccurate…” McNeil began.

“In your closing statement you can have time to correct,” she said.

CBC flexed its technological might by allowing questions via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and video uplink.

One Twitter question turned the tables on the leaders by asking them to say something nice about their opponents. After some laughter about filibustering, they praised each others’ commitments to public service, but the premier got a light-hearted swipe in.

“One of the things I think they do a tremendous job at is being critics,” MacDonald said. “And I’d like to make sure they have that opportunity for a very long time.”

 
 
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