British Columbia Liberal Leader Christy Clark is threatening to impose a carbon tax on thermal coal coming from the United States.
It's a pressure-cooker audition where solid performances and unscripted moments can inspire voters and shift campaigns.
The NDP has been runner-up in 15 of the last 18 B.C. elections, losing to either the Social Credit Party or B.C. Liberals, who have won the last four provincial elections.
Higgins shook the premier's hand and said, "I would never vote for you because." and was cut off by Clark who told her, "You don't have to". She claimed NDP leader John Horgan "turtled" in the fight over softwood lumber trade with the US, while casting herself as the only one tough and "calm" enough to defend the B.C. forest industry.
Berman said Green party Leader Andrew Weaver's climate-action plan is also strong but that the NDP's agenda is more robust, with initiatives to create jobs in the mining, agriculture and forestry sectors. We're taking that first step and we've got their attention.
One of the unfortunate things about the latest lumber trade attack from the U.S.is that it comes in the midst of the B.C. election campaign.
"He said, 'Auntie Linda, you're trending on Twitter!' I said, 'What are you talking about?' I couldn't believe it".
"The Greens are the wild card in this election", he said. "We'll let them fight it out". She's signed backroom deals to allow companies to utilize temporary foreign workers instead of British Columbians in our resource industries.
"You know where we stand, that's a bigger economy, not a bigger government, it's lower taxes, not spending sprees", she said. "So what I've said is, 'Look, we'll be prepared to talk to the business community..."
Norman Ruff, a retired political scientist, said most people don't watch an entire debate but the sound bites and news stories about its defining moments could dominate the campaign for days.
"The danger here for the Liberals - Christy Clark - is that this becomes the narrative: they're aloof; they're out of touch; they don't care", said Dr. Hermida.
The online posts list all manner of gripes against Clark's government - everything from soaring B.C. Hydro rates to overcrowded schools to backed-up emergency rooms - all with the #IAmLinda hashtag.
Provincial politicians blaming one another for federal and even worldwide economic problems is nothing new.
"I don't think that the Clark government has really crossed the line and lost legitimacy in the way the Socreds did and the NDP did", he said.