Taxes and health-care and electricity costs were the traditional items on the bill of fare of the Ontario televised debate. What wasn’t expected was Dalton McGuinty’s body language.
The usually wooden Liberal Leader surprised viewers with his broad hand gestures, a repertoire of palm-waving, index-pointing, finger-ticking moves that lit up online comments and became a fodder for jokes.
“If we could harness McGuinty's hands, we'd have a ton of wind power energy right there,” businesswoman Karen Siwak Tweeted.
“If Dalton McGuinty proved anything tonight it's that he would make a great third-base coach,” wrote University of Victoria political scientist Emmett Macfarlane.
Overnight, a satirical Tweeter account sprang up, with entries such as: “I was going for something between Kate Bush and the Safety Dance. Only time will tell if I succeeded.”
By Wednesday morning, the spin from Liberal insiders was that it was necessary for Mr. McGuinty to show passion, in order to prove he has the fire in his belly needed for a third term.
But even senior Liberals were caught off guard by how that manifested itself. The hand gestures in particular were not part of rehearsals, they said.
Campaign chair Greg Sorbara, who is also running in the Vaughan riding, said there was no strategy to the hand-waving - no deliberate effort to make Mr. McGuinty act more animated.
Rather, he said that he sent Mr. McGuinty a note the day before the debate, telling him to “just enjoy yourself” as he tells Ontarians “where we need to go” over the next four years.