Election 2015: Highlights from the leaders debate on the economy

Tom Mulcair, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau faced off in the second leaders debates Thursday night in Calgary, discussing the economy, jobs, recessions, and balanced budgets.

But, as politicians are wont to do, they also tried their hand at one-liners and lines that people will remember.

WATCH: It wasn’t the most crucial (or the most watched) election debate, but it was the most feisty performance we’ve seen from the leaders of the three main parties during this campaign. Vassy Kapelos and Eric Sorensen look at what the leaders said and who each of them was really trying to reach.

In case you missed the debate (no judging! We’re sure you had a good reason), here are some highlights from Thursday night’s shouting match.

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‘Absolutely not’

Deficits played a major role in Thursday’s debate – will Mulcair end up having a deficit? How many has Harper had? Why does Trudeau want to run three?

But when moderator David Walmsley asked Harper whether Trudeau was “on to something” by running deficits in order to spend huge sums of money on infrastructure, Harper laughed.

“Absolutely not.”

Deficits, deficits, deficits

Did we mention deficits?

Trudeau raised his voice and spoke passionately about his plan to invest in infrastructure, pointing to sluggish growth and low interest rates and asking if there’s a better time “than now” to invest.

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But he also criticized Harper for running deficits, an inconsistency Mulcair seized on.

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“He was clearly criticizing the fact that Mr. Harper had run deficits. But that’s exactly what he’s planning to do. So I think, Justin, that it’s only fair to say that when your advisors tell you one thing and another and they’re totally contradictory, pick one. You can’t just say them both.”

Half-baked platforms?

Pot smoking wasn’t on the agenda. But Mulcair brought it up anyway while Trudeau was criticizing his $15-a-day childcare plan (Trudeau said it would take years to establish the new spaces required).

Trudeau: “A young family with a two-year-old doesn’t need child care eight years from now when their kid is in Grade 5. They need it right away. but Mr. Mulcair is not making a choice that’s going to allow to invest in his promises. They’re puffs of smoke.”

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Mulcair: “You know a lot about that, don’t you, Justin?”

‘Old-stock’ Canadians?

The Syrian refugee crisis also made an unexpected appearance, with both Trudeau and Mulcair criticizing the Conservative leader for not opening the doors to even more than the 20,000 he’s already promised to accept.

Defending his party’s stance, Harper said all Canadians agree with his policy. But many found his phrasing disquieting.

“We have not taken away health care from immigrants and refugees. On the contrary, the only time we have removed it is where we clearly have bogus refugee claimants who have been refused and turned down. We do not offer them a better healthcare plan than the ordinary Canadian can receive. That is something that new, and existing and old-stock Canadians can agree with.”

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Exporting jobs

Energy policy and Keystone XL came up during the first portion of the debate, with Mulcair and Harper facing off on what was the better option; exporting oil or refining it in Canada.

Mulcair: “Mr. Harper sees the environment and the economy as polar opposites. Everybody in Canada knows you have to work on both at the same time.”

Harper: “Which is why we’ve done both. Mr. Mulcair, you actually are the only leader in Canadian history to have gone to another country, you and your colleagues to the United States to argue against Canadian jobs and against Canadian development projects.”

Mulcair: “40,000 Canadian jobs would be exported to the United States with Keystone XL. That’s not our figure, that’s the government of Canada’s figure under Mr. Harper’s Conservatives. I want to create those 40,000 jobs in Canada. Let’s add value to our natural resources here. That’s the way to sustainably develop our resources.”

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Harper: “Mr. Mulcair, when you export your product it creates jobs on both sides of the border. That’s why trade is a good thing.”

WATCH: Political Opinion Consultant Janet Brown joins the Noon News Hour to dissect Thursday’s leaders debate in Calgary.

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