I finally realized why the Conservatives are taking so long to attack the NDP.
Yeah... there's the generic "high tax, anti-business, pro-welfare" attacks. Guaranteed those will be in there.
But attacking Mulcair, there are actually two ways to hit him. The problem for the Conservatives is those two strategies are completely contradictory.
What Conservatives really want to say about the NDP is we're pandering to Quebec separatists, ready to promise the province the moon and sell out the rest of Canada.
- The NDP wants to "make it easier for Quebec to separate", because we're opposed to the Clarity Act. (Response: The Clarity Act is in some ways anti-Democratic more than it is anti-Separatist).
- The NDP "won the Bloc Quebecois vote" by pandering to them.
- There are a few Quebec NDP MPs with "separatist ties". (Whatever that means. Show a cartoon of Separatists running out of the Bloc door, and into the NDP door.)
- Our leader is from Quebec.
- Our leader is a French Citizen. (OMG)
What Conservatives really want to say about Mulcair is that he's angry. The question is where do they find evidence of that? They can't just have a tough moment in question period, because that risks making Mulcair look "strong", instead of mean.
- Mulcair lost a defamation suit against a separatist, after calling him a "whore".
- A lot of sinister-sounding music and picture of Mulcair with his fist clenched.
THE CONSERVATIVE'S DILEMMA:
How can the NDP be pro-separatist, when Mulcair has the battlescars to prove otherwise?
There's a risk for Harper. Imagine that they run ads talking about how Mulcair took a verbal shit all over the separatists, and Mulcair actually became *more* popular because of it?
I also think the Conservatives are wary of writing off Quebec. Even though Harper is annoyed that Quebec represents 25% of the population/ridings who will consistently oppose his agenda, there are enough Quebec Conservatives who don't want Harper to kill their careers by making the Conservatives openly anti-Quebec.
Conservatives WILL attack the NDP when the time is right. But seeing as they're torn between these two strategies, I think they're waiting for two things:
(1) For Mulcair to do something really "angry" looking, in which case they can prove he's angry without having to boost his anti-Separatist credentials.
(2) For the polling situation to clear up. If Quebec looks to be solidly NDP, the Conservatives will let us keep Quebec, and make that a heavy weight to carry in the rest of Canada.
Mulcair may be a lot of things, but I think that losing the lawsuit has made him extremely disciplined. I don't expect we'll see much outward anger. So I think that's going to leave Conservatives to decide:
Do they write-off Quebec and try to paint the NDP as pandering to Quebec?
Or do they show Mulcair's past temper against the separatists, and innoculate him against
WHAT DO NEW DEMOCRATS DO?
Here's the conversation we need to be having, IMO.
If Mulcair is "angry", let that be a good thing. Unemployment has surged. Harper is racking up a huge debt to pay for corporate tax cuts, and getting ready to slash social security. He may have stolen several ridings in the last election. Anger -- focused and disciplined anger -- is appropriate. Mulcair isn't exactly punching out reporters. He's taking a stand. We damn well should.
If Mulcair is "pro separatist", let Mulcair's battle scars become common knowledge. Losing a defamation suit isn't exactly a career-defining moment. But it tells you who Mulcair's enemies are. And IMO, if you can tell a lot about someone from their friends, you can learn even more about someone from their enemies. Now... didn't Harper pander to Alberta separatists by proposing a "firewall" around the province, and he's now letting multi-national oil companies run the country?
If we do our job right... we WILL get to have a debate about policy. The Conservatives will have to default back to their usual bag of attacks: "high tax", "anti-oil", "anti-business". And we have to talk about "pro social security", "pro sustainability", "pro fair trade".
Interested to hear what you guys think the Conservative angle will be against the NDP.