A Lighter Side of The Broadcasting Corsortium: Liveblogging the traditional debate slot coin toss

12:51:24 PM
Greetings once again from the National Press Theatre, where a shadowy group of media executives and party officials are about to decide the electoral fate of the nation. By which, of course, I mean partake of the ancient pre-debate ritual of deciding the order in which party leaders will take part in next week’s debates.

A correction, first off — it turns out it’s not, in fact, a coin toss, since that wouldn’t work with five parties, but a basket draw. (Not, sadly, a giant lottery bubble with bouncing balls, which would be a great visual.

Right now, there is lots of good-natured mingling going on as agents of The Consortium pass out scorecards. “This isn’t your first time here,” one asks me with charming disbelief. It actually *is* — and I’ve no idea how I’ve missed it up until now. It’s like democracy reduced to a game of chance — how can that not be riveting?

The basket, I can report, is red — clearly, the game is rigged from the start. (The problem with having five parties — okay, the *other* problem – is that pretty much every colour has been claimed by one or the other, so you basically have to resort to black and white lest you run afoul of ever-vigilant conspiracy theorists.

12:59:38 PM
Twenty seconds! Then the curtains rise, and the ballet of ballotry begins. Ooh, I think I just felt a shiver.

1:00:11 PM
And here they are – wow, a lot of them. Seven people total on stage, led by the senior executive producer of CBC News, Andrew Buldridge, whose name I just butchered.

Also here are the party officials, who will be battling
Doug Kirkpatrick for the Liberals, Kathleen Monk from the NDP, Mario Framboise for the Bloc, John Bennett for the Greens, and Amy WhosenameIdidntcatch for the Tories. Sorry about that.

First draw – “private time’ visits; and the Green win the first hand, followed by the Bloc, the Conservatives, the NDP and the Liberals.

1:03:24 PM
And now: arrival of leaders, which the Conservative Amy draws. First up, Liberals, and — okay, they just lost me there. This is far more detailed than I was expecting.

Dressing rooms! One draw, same dressing room for both debates, and the Conservatives triumph over fate. Bloc next, then the Liberals, the Greens and the NDP. I guess that means first pick of the available prep rooms, right? How much variance can there be?

1:05:19 PM
And now – the seating. In the A slot, the Greens, followed by Conservatives, Liberals, NDP and the Bloc. I think that’s for the French debate — yes, it is. For the English – Conservative, Green, Liberals, NDP and the Bloc, which gets to keep the same seat for both nights. Get comfy, Gilles.

1:07:05 PM
Openin statements – Bloc, Liberal, Conservative, Greeen and NDP – and yes, that’s French. As for the English, it will be Greens, Conservatives, NDP, Liberals and the Bloc, which is coming in last an awful lot.

First question – Conservatives, Liberals, Green, Bloc – finally not last – and the NDP, and the next night, for the English debates, Greens, Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and – back in the usual spot, the Bloc.

1:09:09 PM
Closing statements – French debate: Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, Bloc – oh, when it would have been better to go last, bad luck – and the Greens.

English: Conservatives, Greens, Liberal, NDP and the Bloc.

1:10:25 PM
One more – the post-debate pressers. French: Bloc, Conservatives, Liberals, Green and NDP.
English (and a rigourous shake of the basket) Liberals, Green, Bloc, NDP and – oh, you lucky guy – the Conservatives.

And – that’s it? Really? That was downright clinical.

1:12:56 PM
We took advantage of the lingering Consortiumites to ask, hey, what *is* this private time? Apparently, it just means getting the chance to “check out the set.” That’s — much less intriguing than it initially sounded.

“I have the Bloc down three times for one thing,” confesses a reporter sitting beside me. I’m pretty sure I screwed up the order of at least a few lists too. It’s harder to keep track than you might think.

Everyone seems in high spirits as they cluster around the flipboard to find out what wonderous timeslot prizes they’ve won, but the few reporters who were here to witness it all are streaming out to file. Which I don’t have to do, what with the whole liveness of the blogging, but since I’m in grave danger of hitting the bad low blood sugar place, I’m going to sign off too.

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