Post Mortem #1: The New Approach
Well, my best guess at the moment was that the new approach worked well. Time was prety well perfect. Response was very positive. I had more fun as well. I found that I was more focussed.
The reasons as near as I can tell have to do with different purposes. Typically when I write a sermon I am looking for memorable lines and what not. When doing a lesson I am less concerned with being memorable as being clear and focussed. Approaching the sermon more like a lesson may have resulted in something that was clearer and, oddly, more memorable.
Post Mortem #2: The Debate
Paul Martin either hit an in the park home run last night or he hit into a fielder's choice.
I say an in the park home run because if Martin's ploy to start a constitutional debate (which he obviosuly thinks he can win) does work, then it will take some time to cash in the runs, and it will be dramatic to watch.
Frankly I don't think Martin can get around the bases.
Two reasons. First, Harper responded in a way that was reasonable. He spoke of the need to embrace dialogue and strike a balance between our institutions, rather than taking the bait and responding to a specific case. The other opposition parties helped Harper by essentially agreeing with him. Harper can hardly be painted as a radical to be feared for his stance on minority rights on account fo his response to Martin's proposal when that response is echoed by Jack Layton and the NDP.
The second reason is that Martin has a bit of a credibility problem that he is opening himself to on the question. Consider that Harper has said explicitly that he would not use the notwithstanding clause on the issue of same sex marriage. Then consider that Martin himself said he would invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect clergy from being forced to perform same sex marriages. Certainly Martin might wish to argue that his suggestion on that score was as much in defense of minorty rights as the one he made last night. Yet we should ask Martin: If the notwithstanding clause is a valuable tool in prtoecting minority rights (as he must certainly believe) then why get rid of it?
Perhaps most telling is that post debate analysis seems more focussed on what Martin's proposal says about him and his campaign than what it says about Harper and the Conservatives.
On the whole, Harper needed only to continue to be reasonable, not scary, and calm. That he did, and probably went a way in solidifying his newly-acquired support. For his part, Martin di not accomplish what he needed to really. There is hope for Martin, but that's all, and it isn't immediately apparant that it is all that much.
Jack Layton? Well he is in a tough spot. If he demonises the Conservatives too much, he ends up losing votes to the Liberals. In reality he has to pick his poison. He may not want a Conservative government, but to avoid it he will have to do things that will hurt his own party's electoral prospects. If he wants electoral success for himself and his party, he will likely have to accpet that he will end up helping the Conservatives in that regard as well.