You know the election is (finally) winding down when you see the leaders start to wind down. They just gave their last major interviews to one of Québec’s most popular television programs.
Tout le monde en parle (TLMEP = “Everyone is talking about it”) often jockies for the 1st spot place in Canadian television ratings along with Québec’s other top rated show, La Voix.
I have spoken many times before about TLMEP. In fact, TLMEP was the subject of my very first blog post.
It is a left of left (yup, that’s left), very sovereignist friendly interview program which has interviewed thousands and thousands of Québec’s who’s who (and to a certain extent, others from elsewhere in Canada who are able to muddle through in French).
Despite being well-known as being well-entrenched politically, people of all political strips love this show because we get to see how politicians fare under intense circumstances (especially when they are out of their element… it ain’t no Peter Mansbridge interview!!).
Case in point: The show does not really align with my own political views, but nonetheless, I like it as much as everyone else!
It is also a very pop-culture friendly show, which allows us to see and hear the inside stories behind some of the most famous faces in Québec, French Canada, and the Francophone world.
It airs every Sunday night on Radio-Canada, for two hours per episode, and has been on the air for over 20 years.
Despite the show’s the far left and sovereignist leanings, they’ve toned down the leftness over the years. You can see the host and his sidekick gritting their teeth as they forceably tone it down – likely because of Radio-Canada management directives to tone it down.
This latter link is for a post I previously wrote… It’s talks about quite an unbelievable series of events involving Radio-Canada which likely led to TLMEP having to tone itself down. It is worth a read if you have not read it before (but grab a drink before you do… you’ll likely need it when you read what is in that post).
With average show ratings hovering between 1.5 million to over 2 million views, TLMEP has made the careers of numerous invitees, and it has broken the careers of others.
One thing has remained constant. If it becomes publicly known that someone has refused an invitation to appear on TLMEP, they are instantly (and very vocally) labelled as a coward by both Québec’s media and by Québec’s public. This in itself can become a career breaker.
In this sense, I am not sure if there has ever been a more politically and socially powerful program in Canadian history.
With the exception of Stephen Harper, all of our political party leaders attend interviews on the program at least two or three times a year.
But because of the burdens of our mighty democracy, Harper as always
hid been too busy and has refused to be interviewed been permanently “unavailable” (Oh, the hectic schedule of a Canadian Prime Minister. Fortunately President Obama’s schedule is far less cumbersome, since he has lots of time to appear on shows like Jimmy Fallon… Poor poor Canadian Prime Ministers… gotta feel for ’em).
This has drawn the ire of Québec’s public for many years, and has resulted in Harper becoming the butt of countless everyday jokes:
(Example: Two Joe Blow warehouse workers might have a colleague who is late for work. One warehouse worker would ask the other one “So where is Johnny X this morning?”. The other warehouse worker might answer “You didn’t know his middle name was Harper? He confused work with TLMEP and was too chicken shit to get here on time”.
If your constant refusals to attend Canada’s & Québec’s #1 show (in terms of overall ratings) gives you that sort of overtly negative reputation among your electorate, it shows you are grossly out of touch with your electorate. Perhaps you should throw in the towel before your electorate takes it from you (unless you turn to less-than-noble tactics to sneakily maintain power, such as Niqab bashing two women at a citizenship ceremony as if it were a greater threat to humanity than an asteroid headed for Earth).
On October 4th, Thomas Mulcair was one of TLMEP’s guests.
Last night, Justin Trudeau and Gilles Duceppe were TLMEP’s guests (appearing separately on the show, of course).
I have not yet seen the ratings, but based on how the shows were hyped in advance, I would not be surprised if they crested somewhere between 2.3 and 2.8 million viewers.
These were the last major interviews for the party leaders before E-day. Many voters missed the televised debates, and so the TLMEP interviews would have been the leader’s last major opportunity to appeal to a large audience.
I was actually quite surprised by how the interviews went. The host, Guy A. Lepage, never let any of them off the hook for a second (you sense that Mulcair has become too centrist and soft for him, Trudeau is too much of a joke for him, and Duceppe is too passé for him).
My take on the final results (and boy, I really tried very hard to come to objective conclusions… you have no idea how much I tried):
- Mulcair remained average (not great, not bad) and explained his positions quite thoroughly. It was OK, but he didn’t appear to say anything which would stop his downward slide in Québec. Usually it is Mulcair who aces TLMEP intervews. I didn’t get the sense he did this time. Usually it is Trudeau who fares far worse than Mulcair, but not this time. Read on for the big shocker…
- Trudeau gave what was probably his best interview of the entire election campaign (I have been less than kind to Trudeau throughout the election campaign, much less kind to the man than I am to his party – so for me to say this is no small thing).
The TLMEP audience is carefully screened weeks in advance, and the waiting list is supposed to be half a year to a year (I know this because I wanted to attend one of the airings, and I had to present a CV of my life, I was ready for the blood tests and retina scans. But I drew the line when cavity probes were likely to be performed — I don’t think I would have fit their ideal audience member). The audience tends to be staunchly far-left, and staunchly pro-sovereignty.
So with this said, by simple nature of who the TLMEP audience is, the audience generally has not bee kind at all to
the son of a man who forced a constitution on Québec Trudeau. Yet, when Trudeau held his ground with curve-ball questions being thrown at him in all directions, a number of his responses were so good that even the traditionally hostile audience broke out in applause (there was one time they even broke out in cheers for Trudeau). I have never before seen this happen for Trudeau on TLMEP, and I was even surprised at how good he came across.
- Duceppe’s interview was miserable. You had to feel bad for him. Usually he owns TLMEP, but this time he sounded like a broken record with nothing new to add. The fact that he was being lambasted on the show by his own base left him nowhere to hide. I was shocked actually. At the very end of the interview, the TLMEP co-host and long-time Duceppe supporter, Danny Turcot, bluntly told Duceppe he was no longer going to vote for him. You should have seen Duceppe’s speechless face (that has to hurt, especially when you know “you got taught” by your own base in front of over 2 million people – perhaps closer to 3 million).
- And Harper… Oh yah, I forgot… No Harper… Too busy (they should have invited Obama).
Will these interviews translate into a shift in voting patterns?
I don’t know. It is possible. After all, a much larger swath of the electorate saw these interviews than the debates.
There were surprises during these interviews, so perhaps (just perhaps) they may influence the final vote
You can watch the interviews yourself by clicking below (all interviews are in French):
Really useful post and commentary. Let’s see what impact it has on the 19th.