It would seem my own prophecy has come to fruition, as here we are about to talk about the Yorkton Debate before getting to some of the ones that have come before it.
The candidates were their usual selves this evening, as they continued to hammer home the key messages and "buzz words" that have been generated since the start of the campaign. A true moment of levity and uniqueness came from the financial appeal, during which an opportunity for word play and puns was employed. Linda Osachoff, took a wonderful try at incorporating all four candidates' names into a word play joke, and it really set a bar for humour for the rest of the night.
It was particularly amusing to see Ryan Meili repurpose one of my favourite puns (regarding a joke contest and ten submissions) during his opening statement, and I think we saw all of the candidates make a general effort to include more moments of levity throughout the night.
The questions were varied; as there were questions regarding concerns such as producer profits, health care and long term care, bullying, and increasing female and minority diversity in candidates.
I was a little surprised that housing wasn't mentioned prominently, given that Yorkton is another of Saskatchewan's "booming" communities and facing its own version of a housing crunch, both due to some shortages but primarily affordability.
One of the more interesting exchanges of the evening, which according to the questioners builds from the last debate, was Erin and Trent both asking Cam about his stance on the government's plan to reduce the corporate tax rate from 12 to 10%, and whether he would support a rollback to 12% if made Premier.
It was interesting to see two candidates carry the same question over to the same candidate; though ultimately, I think it gave Cam a chance to better define his position on the issue: which, effectively, is that any tax policy needs to be examined to ensure that it is the best move for the people of the province at the time. Cam was a little non-committal on whether or not it should be a focus for the province at this particular time, a follow up by Trent, though he did restate that the policy needs to be weighed by merit and outcomes.
The other interesting exchange, which I though really stood out, was Cam's question to Ryan about balancing the roles of MLA, Leader, and eventually (hopefully) Premier. Ryan stuck close to his campaign message of 9 + 1, and continued to rely on his example of Jack Layton serving outside the House of Commons.
Where it really got interesting, however, was Cam's follow up retort which called attention to Jack having prior campaign and government experience through being a city counsellor in Toronto and having that prior experience in elected office. Cam then segued into asking whether Ryan would commit to run win or lose after the leadership.
I think Ryan incorrectly chose not to offer a retort to the experience point; and to a degree, it was a landing blow given that Ryan has called on Jack's pedigree as leader from the day he entered the race. I imagine Team Meili will be working on a response to use in future debates should it be mentioned again, but for now it was (I think) a particularly interesting comment that really stood out this evening.
And while I wouldn't call it a knockout blow, I think it's one of the "swings" we've seen thrown during these debates that has actually landed.
For the most part, it was a good debate. Personally, I gleaned some insight over what sort of things we may see if the race goes beyond the first ballot (and there may be some editorializing speculation on that front in a few days time), but I think it also was a good debate for the candidates to really start to define some of the differences between the campaigns.