For those following Canadian politics, they had their first english-language election debate tonight. The format was unimpressive and stifled real exchanges, but it highlighted the three issues that grab me about Canadian politics right now: the difficult relationship with the United States, the wrangling over whether to embrace european-style social democracy or American-style capitalism, and the threat of the province of Quebec seperating from Canada.
(One of the four parties during the debate, the Bloc Quebecois, openly advocates seperation... showing just how different Canada treats seperatists than the vast majority of other countries.)
The most striking moments? Both involved Prime Minister Paul Martin: his argument over whether he'd send troops to Iraq, and his passionate attack on the sovereigntists for their often-dubious legal claims of the right to unilateral seperation. It's not often that you see a Canadian prime minister so incensed as Martin was with Duceppe's claim that Quebec could leave whenever and however it wishes, in contravention of Canadian law. With Martin, it's even rarer, yet there it was.
The best commentary on the election online? So far, the "CalgaryGrit", a Liberal supporter who nonetheless asserts his independence and avoids clear partisan apologetics.
(Unlike, say, Paul Wells, whose obvious personal loathing of Martin weakened his election analysis considerably, leading him to side with Martin's America-friendly opponent Stephen Harper on thin grounds over the Iraq issue. Or the Grit's largely conservative commentators, who sound like Harper's spin doctors.)