Well, well. It looks as if the high poll ride that Thomas Mulcair’s been enjoying since his ascension is about to hit its apex.
An ill-worded appeal to Quebec and Ontario voters — by putting down the Western provinces in general and Alberta in particular — has not only drawn the wrath of a few of the more powerful premiers, but has been given a contradiction in factual evidence by Statistics Canada, as covered by Joan Bryden of the Canadian Press (who is most decidedly not a Stephen Harper partisan.) By the way, the IRPP study that Ms. Bryden refers to can be found here, while the StatsCan manufacturing report can be found here.
Not a few in the Canadian punditocracy have been wondering why the Harper Tory backroom hasn’t unleashed their tried-and-tested “attack ad” strategy. And the answer is quite simple: lack of reliable ammunition.
Most voters aren’t going to be bothered trying to check out the NDP website for policies and platforms that Mr. Mulcair may choose to extol or keep silent about. Nor are they likely to be swayed by Blogging Tory partisans who are more than ready, willing and able to point to some statements in Mr. Mulcair’s earlier career, as evidence that he is unfit for the Premiership. To such partisans, I remind them that the Liberals tried very much the same tactic with Stephen Harper. It didn’t really work in 2006, 2008 and 2011; why should essentially the same tactic work on Mr. Mulcair now?
What Mr. Mulcair instinctively knows, that us amateur pundits usually miss, is that to be at its most devastating an attack ad needs an element of resonating truth. Stéphane Dion’s less-than-stellar performance as a Liberal leadership candidate and then as a Liberal leader, combined with his lack of salesmanship for his Green Shift, provided plenty of effective fodder for attack. It was the same case with Michael Ignatieff’s public history and parliamentary behaviour. Since his ascension to the office of Opposition leader, Mr. Mulcair has been very careful not to make statements that could be turned against him in a sustained attack — until now.
It may be, since his focus has been mainly oriented on Central Canada, that he does not see his view as a tactical error. If that’s the case, he’s going to find out, rather quickly, that to be dismissive of the West is most decidedly not a winning strategy for gaining the nation. Not when demographics and economic growth favour the ascension of the West.