TVA Hosts «Face-à-Face 2019» Debate : What You Need To Know – By: Philippe Gervais

The two most important considerations for all 4 leaders going into last night’s debate were, first, connecting with French electors in battle ground seats mostly located in rural Québec and suburban Montreal (450), and, second, the post-debate spin and impressions that will influence the majority who have not watched this debate. The wrap-up will start forming expectations for the next one.

Who delivered on that strategy?

  • Mr. Trudeau: On form, he looked too scripted and generally not genuine. On content, he was talking to his base, more urban and center-left, his lack of deep knowledge on some issues was surprising from an incumbent Prime Minister. Strategically, his performance will help the Party in ‘the 450’, but is short of growing past the Greater Montreal Area.
  • Mr. Scheer: Scheer gave a solid performance, but clearly his lack of French language skills put him at a disadvantage. He did differentiate himself from the other three present as the only option right-of-center and aligned with the current Québec Government. This should help him in the more conservative areas of rural Québec.
  • Mr. Singh: He was charismatic, genuine, and clearly talking to his crumbling base on issues. His battle is maintaining the current crop of NDP MPs in Québec. A good performance, but arguably not enough to stop the bleeding.
  • Mr. Blanchet: If we had to declare a winner, he would be it. He was calm, crisp, and explained his positions clearly. His performance will clearly accelerate the resurgence of the Bloc Québécois. They will now not only be challenging the NDP incumbents, but will also be competing with the Liberals in the 450 and challenging them in some Montreal Island seats.

The after-debate spin, Québec media headlines range between “no knock-out punches” to a clear Blanchet victory. As for the others, Singh gets a sympathetic thumbs up while the two main contenders are faced with lingering questions: abortion and energy corridor (pipelines) for Scheer, and Québec’s Bill 21 as well as the two campaign planes for Trudeau.

Philippe Gervais is the Principal at Navigator’s Montreal office, bringing more than 25 years of experience of strategic advice to politicians, corporate executives and not-for-profit sector decision-makers. He has played key roles in political campaigns both here in Canada and abroad, including US Presidential campaigns. During the 2006 election, he served as National Deputy Campaign Manager for the Conservative Party of Canada.