Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rumours of Mulcair's Demise Premature

Tom Mulcair Describing his Fear of Trudeaumania II
Mulcair might go down to ignominious defeat in the projected 2015 Canadian Election, or he may win a majority government.  Current polls are in no way capable of projecting outcomes two years in advance. There is no magic at play, and anyone who says otherwise is simply looking for attention. As accurate as polling may be in capturing current intentions, people's minds change.  Two years is nearly a political life-time and the most we can observe now are some signs of trends.  There are several which I would like to discuss.  If the current Harris Decima poll (late April 2013) is correct (and it seems to be close enough to being accurate) than longer term trends are clearly visible just under the headlines of the rise of Justin Trudeau.

Prime Minister Harper and his party are still doing very well in the West, especially Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  Interestingly, he is doing better in the last two than in the former.  The NDP is still very strong in Quebec and strong on the question of who cares about people "like me", and the Liberals are doing well in the Maritimes and in Ontario.  The NDP are also competitive in the Martimes, Ontario and The West.

The Liberals have been gaining in Quebec, but the NDP's support is not exactly evaporating contrary to doomsday prophesy in the media since the 2011 election.

Under these longer term trends (which have been the conventional wisdom for several decades) there is also the rise of the Trudeau Liberals.  But, let's keep in mind that that has just happen and there is typically a honeymoon period with any new leader.

Though leadership often trumps policy, there is little reason to see Mulcair as lacking on that front either.  Compared to Harper, Mulcair is charismatic.  When compared to Trudeau, Mulcair is a silver tongued orator who reminds one of Mulroney.

Thomas Mulcair may have slipped in recent weeks, but there is still a long time to go and the narrative we are faced with on election day is almost certainly entirely unpredictable at this present moment.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Trudeau Needs a Team

During the 2011 election, under Michael Ignatieff, and in the 2008 election under Stephane Dion, the Liberals looked more like a group of fractious remnants of a by-gone glorious age than a real political party.  Dion the once golden boy of the tall red Quebec poppy and Ignatieff the intellectual interlocutor.  Neither of these candidates ever really appeared to have a solid team backing them up.  Perhaps they forgot as Harper himself is seldom seen as the leader of a team.

But, Harper's rise to power was as much about the collapse of the Liberals and the rise of the NDP as was anything to do with the Conservatives.  In many ways it was the normal swing of the pendulum along with the typical scandals arising from a decade of unbroken power.

But, Trudeau needs a team.  He especially needs an economic team.  Chantal Hebert's recent article is correct that he could use an economic star, but he can at least cultivate a strong, consistent set of economic talking points and get Ralph Goodale, John McCallum and Scott Brison and others to repeat them at every opportunity.

These kind of sound bites have to be backed up by something more detailed, but the message itself has to be quite simple.

With his lack of experience, he needs to trot out his most experienced MP's and showcase their experience as much as possible.  He won't win on a person to person fight-out between himself and Harper.