Editorial — Debate a good place to check campaign at halfway point

All four leaders offered up some substance, and differentiated themselves and their parties for voters.

The televised leaders’ debate on Monday night likely didn’t change too many minds. While it wasn’t watched in its entirety by many people, clips were replayed almost right away. Comments about it, and media coverage of it, will ensure that it has an influence on the rest of the provincial election campaign.

NDP leader Adrian Dix came across quite well. Although he was clearly nervous at the beginning, he grew more confident and had no trouble answering some of the more difficult questions.

His willingness to take full responsibility for his backdated memo, when he was an aide to then-premier Glen Clark, and to say he’s learned from that, was a high water mark. It should put the doubts that many people have about him on that score to rest.

While his unwillingness to even consider oil and gas transport to the west coast is troubling, given that oil and gas is such a crucial component of the Canadian economy, he did at least address other areas of the economy. This was a pointed contrast to Green Party leader Jane Sterk, who when specifically asked about B.C.’s resource economy made references to wind power, geothermal energy and agriculture — without once mentioning forestry, mining and natural gas.

BC Liberal leader Christy Clark stuck mainly to her talking points, about LNG developments eliminating debt and her eagerness to balance budgets. She did address the controversy about her driving through a red light (after first stopping) with her son and a reporter in her vehicle, and that should help put that issue to bed. In the scheme of things, it isn’t worth a lot of discussion, although it does speak to her on-the-spot judgment.

BC Conservative leader John Cummins was willing to address the elephant in the room that the other leaders ignored — many working people in B.C. don’t have it so good. High housing costs, high fuel costs and high taxes take a lot out of their pockets, and job prospects aren’t as robust as they have been.

As Cummins said Tuesday morning, the debate was simply one stop on a marathon race. It came at a time when some people are paying a little more attention to the campaign, although the majority remain quite blissfully tuned out thus far.

The debate was a good opportunity to compare the leaders and assess