Citizen X on Canadian election 2015, III .. Globe and Mail debate — are Liberals really left of NDP now??

Sep 18th, 2015 | By | Category: In Brief

Mr. Harper is on the right, Mr. Mulcair is in the middle, and Mr. Trudeau is on the left! Go figure?

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. 12:45 AM ET. I agree with all those who say the Globe and Mail debate on the economy from Calgary last night, among Mssrs. Harper, Mulcair, and Trudeau (with Globe editor-in-chief David Walmsley also playing a role) did not exactly move the leading political indicators.

Not long before the great contest began on the banks of the Bow River, Eric Grenier was asking on the CBC News site : “Will the debate break 3-way logjam? … Federal election race is as close as it gets, but tonight’s debate could be a turning point.”

In fact, it may take a few days for the debate to register in the polls. And we may still find that somehow the logjam has been broken.

That is not, however, how the initial great weight of instant expert opinion on TV and online seems to be calling the shots. From this angle, the immediate answer to Mr. Grenier’s question “Will the debate break 3-way logjam?” is simply no.  And at least for now I’d agree with this initial assessment.

At the same time, to me the big takeaway from this second debate (on TV via cpac, the parliamentary access channel up here in the northern woods) was just its recurrent demonstration of what seems to be the somewhat surprising left-right ideological alignment of the three main parties, as judged by some key economic policy parameters. And this could have further impact down the road.

In any case the positioning that appears to have set in now did seem clear enough on Thursday night in Calgary. Mr. Harper’s Conservative party is clearly on the right (if not quite to the same kind of near insane degree currently infecting the Republican leadership race in the USA).

The opposite position on the left, intriguingly enough, does now seem to be occupied by the Trudeau Liberals, who are arguing for three years of deficit-financed infrastructure and related spending to get the flat Canadian economy off its back.

In between these two right and left positions, in the centre, we now have the Mulcair New Democrats. And the ordinary federal voter might be forgiven for thinking that they are offering Canadians some new blend of Mr. Harper’s right-wing and Mr. Trudeau’s left-wing policies.

Three, three the rivals : who would be most impressive on US TV? And will he win in the end, in some final big surprise?

I’ve heard from some longstanding NDP activists in Ontario who feel that the New Democrat brain trust has erred in moving towards this almost aggressively centrist position. (Remember Andrea Horwath etc?)

Time will no doubt tell. But it increasingly does look as if the Trudeau Liberals are the guys with whatever it is that voters who want to see some kind of seriously bold change in Ottawa are asking for (probably). Meanwhile, Mr. Mulcair and his highest advisors are gambling that moving toward the no deficit financing dead centre is the best NDP strategy for maximizing votes on October 19.

All this could change again, of course. But for the time being at least it does strike me as the most interesting thing about last night’s debate.

Both Mulcair and Trudeau are gambling on certain strategies, one might say. Yet again, however, neither might give either party (to say nothing of the Harper Conservatives) the kind of decisive edge that still seems to be eluding everyone. Especially in Ontario — and BC.

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  1. I really think discussion on ‘the debate’ needs to include comments made by Elizabeth May via Twitter. Her visionary statements about the economy are likely to be seen to the left of where this author places the Liberals. Although the Green Party has more philosophic ties to the ‘middle’ of the continuum, the current platform as laid out is a more fundamental challenge to the current economic structure. What would the continuum look like if the Green platform were included?
    I certainly respect that platforms do not equal governing practices, as it is a long standing truism that the Liberals “campaign on the left, and govern on the right”…however, as the election is not yet here, we are considering the visions, rather than the reality at this point.

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