As soon as he got back to the Commons, Mulcair made a beeline toward economic uncertainty. “Mr. Speaker, since the Conservatives took ofﬁce, Canada has lost hundreds of thousands of good jobs in the manufacturing sector,” he said. And then: “The Conservatives are saddling future generations with the biggest environmental, economic and social debt in our history. They are gutting the manufacturing sector and destabilizing the balanced economy that we have built up since the Second World War.” …
After that ﬁrst QP, Mulcair told reporters he plans to keep focusing on “the failure of the Conservatives to apply basic rules of sustainable development.” Mulcair’s line of attack is all about the Conservatives’ zeal for developing and exporting natural resources, which, handily, your humble columnist has been writing about for three months. “That’s driven up the value of the Canadian dollar, made it more difﬁcult to export our own goods,” Mulcair said.
There is a very large voter market in this country for Canadians who don’t like the Harper record on oil, the environment, and the fate of Canadian heavy manufacturing. One label for that market could be “people who haven’t been voting Conservative.” Those voters have been switching allegiances as they look for a way to stop Harper. In 2011, more than 1.5 million of them left the Liberals, Bloc Québécois and Green party to vote NDP. …
But there is another big vote market in the country, which we can call “people who have been voting Conservative.” They will see little in Mulcair to make them change their minds.
The debate Mulcair wants is about economic interest, and millions of Canadians have a stake in the growing resource economy. The ﬁghts he wants, over free trade, serious carbon-pricing schemes, and the wisdom of support for fading companies over rising ones have been fought too many times. We know how the ﬁght usually ends. …
During the NDP leadership campaign, SunTV asked candidates which record they like best. Mulcair named a recording of the Beethoven opera Fidelio. Stephen Harper likes to have the guys from Nickelback over to 24 Sussex. Given the choice, I’d take Beethoven too, but Nickelback sells more records. For four elections in a row the Conservatives have run a populist rush against elites in urban enclaves. Mulcair wants to lead the party of the Canadian worker from Outremont. He’s good, but he can’t work miracles.
But this is a healthier axis of division for Canadian politics — substantive.
Canadian politics watchers — breathe!