Justin Trudeau has been talking about pot. Tom Mulcair has been talking about abolishing the Senate. But, Paul Wells writes in Macleans, that talk will not generate votes in the next election. The focus will still be on the economy. The Liberals may think they can remind voters of the Chretien-Martin years, when the nation was running budget surpluses. However,
This is something else that Liberals cannot understand: the notion that most Canadians are no longer properly grateful for the work Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin did to clean up deficits in the 1990s. In fact, a growing number of Canadians, even the ones who don’t smoke a lot of pot, have dim memories of the 1990s or none at all.
This helps explain a Harris-Decima poll from the end of August that inquired about respondents’ opinions of the national political parties. Trudeau’s net favourable impression is way higher than Harper’s and a fair bit higher than NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s. Respondents were likelier to believe Trudeau “shares your values.” He’s having a strong year in the polls. But Harper still has a slight edge over both Trudeau and Mulcair on “judgment,” and on “economic management” it was a blowout: 39 per cent prefer Harper to only 20 per cent for Trudeau and 15 per cent for Mulcair.
Those numbers are a little strange, because a good case can be made that Harperian austerity was exactly not what the Canadian -- or the world -- economy needed. As for the Senate, talking about abolition is much easier than doing something about it:
Canadians are angry at the Senate right now. That’s not the same as believing any party has the ability, once in power, to do much about it. His Senate tour illustrates a little-noticed difference between Mulcair and his predecessor Jack Layton. Layton came from Toronto city politics. He hadn’t the faintest interest in constitutional tinkering. The NDP stood for abolishing the Senate, as it always had, and Layton never talked about it. Mulcair comes from Quebec provincial politics, where a generation grew up believing that if you have no constitutional scheme to peddle you cannot be serious.
Pot and the Senate will be red herrings by the time the next election rolls around. If Trudeau and Mulcair are to be successful, they will have to convince Canadians that Stephen Harper is not the economic icon he claims to be.