THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – If the new anti-terrorism bill brought forward by the Conservative Party were to have been drafted by the previous Liberal Government, it is likely that the Conservatives would have dug in their heels and would be fighting tooth and nail against the legislation.
Instead, the Prime Minister who once supported less government and lower taxes has morphed into a Prime Minister who seems content with greater power concentrated in the hands of the PMO and increased spending in many areas.
It is a serious set of contrasts in what the Conservatives are today, to what the Conservatives were. While it should be opening cracks in the political walls for the New Democrats and Liberals to storm through, it is still mostly smooth running for the Conservatives.
From a party that once fought for taking power away from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), today hardly a word spoken by a Minister or senior bureaucrat does not flow through the PMO.
From the days when the Prime Minister would travel in a single vehicle, we now have the Prime Minister travelling in a motorcade almost rivaling that of the American President.
The Conservatives came to power supporting Canada’s military and Canada’s veterans. Today the Conservatives have veterans and their families up in arms. The move is certainly seen as serious when the Prime Minister puts his top “fixer” into the Defence portfolio.
However for the Conservatives, it appears their moves are working.
Nick Nanos reports, “Although their score is still lower than the Liberals, the Conservatives have hit a new 12 month high. The Conservative score on the index was last at this level in October 2013 prior to the Senate controversy. Overall the Liberals registered 57 points out of 100 on the Nanos Party Power Index followed by the Tories with 54 points, the NDP with 48 points, the Green Party with 30 points and the BQ at 26 points (QC only) respectively”.
“The preferred Prime Minister measure remains very tight with Harper the preference of 33 per cent of Canadians followed by Trudeau at 31 per cent, Mulcair at 16 per cent, four percent prefer May and 14 per cent were unsure”.
When one gauges the pool of accessible voters for each of the parties through a series of independent questions, 53 per cent would consider voting for the federal Liberals, 45 per cent would consider voting for the NDP, 45 per cent would consider voting for the Conservatives and 27 per cent would consider voting for the Green Party.
For the opposition leaders, there are courses of action that likely would change their courses.
For Justin Trudeau, charisma and personal popularity are not an issue at all.
Trudeau hits audiences with charm, poise and shares a message of Canada being a kinder and gentler place.
Last week, former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien delivered a speech on the 50th Anniversary of the Canadian Flag. Chretien demonstrated a connection with voters that still hold true after all these years.
His message raised and in effect answered questions that many are likely asking themselves about Canada under Prime Minister Harper.
Trudeau by contrast offers far more flowery language. What he says engages his audience. However for many it is like a take-out Chinese dinner, an hour or so later people are left hungry.
For New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair, the issue is one of taking his “Angry Tom” from Question Period, where his performance is like a lawyer cutting through a defendant on the witness stand out to Canadians.
That approach might generate good sound-bites for media, but it is not likely to build the political army of support that the New Democrats hope for.
It is likely that success for the NDP will come by getting their leader outside of Parliament and into the ridings in gatherings where Canadians can get to know him.
Both Trudeau and Mulcair offer different styles of leadership and personality for Canadians.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is perhaps the most engaged leader right now.
The Greens likely have many of the policies and platform items that most Canadians should look at. That said, getting Canadians to look at their platform is a little bit like the days of the early Reform Party with their massive flyers with their entire platform printed on them.
Getting people to read and understand is hard. Likely for May, the goal is going to be continued growth, and working to build the Green Caucus to a potential power broker in a minority government.
Prime Minister Harper offers a very controlling and top-down leadership style.
While there appears to be growing numbers of Canadians who are frustrated with the leadership of Prime Minister Harper, including perhaps some members of the Conservative Party, there remains the opportunity for the Conservatives to form another majority government.
Politics remains volatile – which is why so many Canadians find it so interesting.