Thursday, August 6, 2015

THE FIGHT FOR EMINENCE

The first week of the Federal Election Campaign and Canadians have an opportunity to size up the four national party leaders as they parry with one another in the first leaders debate.

It will be interesting to learn how many Canadians are tuned into the early days of this marathon election campaign. My wife says nobody, outside of hacks, watch the debates. Given the lazy days of August, summer holidays, the heat and so many good reasons to not tune in until after the long weekend end, I am not expecting this debate to break any records for viewing audiences.

However, with wired millennials controlling a quarter of the votes in this election - the streaming viewers from that key demographic could tune in to the stream. They are the most likely to be the agents of change - if they vote!

 It is too early for a knock-out punch? Normally, I might say yes. However, this debate will be judged by the media and the partisan spinners. I think Official Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair and Third Party Leader Justin Trudeau have to perform. The name of the game is emerging with a clear consensus as the real alternative to the Conservatives.

Mulcair needs desperately to not be "angry Tom" if he hopes to steal a bigger slice of the center and center left from those that do not want Harper but are still a little shy of supporting the New Democrats.  He needs to show diplomacy, be firm, handle himself with aplomb and try and channel Jack Layton's unflappable maturity. 

He is the front runner - will he be the turkey at the Thanksgiving Dinner or the host with the most. Charming, engaging, great presentation and tasty morsels for voters to digest.

Trudeau is never to be underestimated. He is a proven showstopper. He has the ability and the skills to take back what he has lost but can he? Tonight he really has to step outside the Conservatives "not ready yet" box and define himself as the uncontested voice of the Center Left. 

A trained debater, Justin has to look, sound and act like a Prime Minister without coming off as insincere and arrogant.   Rhetorical gobbledygook will re-enforce resentment and remind folks of his serious mistakes in judgement.  There is a reason the man who was first pick for Prime Minister a few short months ago is falling further behind in third spot.  It truly is do or die time. He either has something to offer Canadians or he does not.

As for Harper, it will be interesting to watch how he pits Trudeau and and Mulcair against one another. It might be to his advantage to gang-up on Mulcair to ensure that Left-Middle vote remains confused and uncertain. He wants, no needs, the vote splitting on the left to continue. That is the formula that has won him three governments. That has allowed him to politically terraform our country with out the support of the majority of Canadians.

The last thing Harper needs tonight is a brilliant performance by Mulcair.  He might be in Justin's corner tonight. 

I hope all four leaders are at their best.

The debate is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. PDT, available on TV only at Citytv and CPAC. It will also be available online at macleans.ca/debate.

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