Plenty of time for recovery, a tactical retreat- followed by more nuanced and diplomatic language- but make no mistake Mulcair is BLOWING it on the "dutch disease" file. My friend BCL delivers the latest poll, which shows the NDP riding high, eclipsing the Conservatives, even leading amongst the key 60 plus demographic, impressive stuff. However, I take the longer view on this current debate, within that an opinion that this issue is quickly morphing into questions of confederation and national unity, both pure political death in the final analysis.
The NDP are handling this issue badly, as some have said, instead of clarifying, Mulcair is "doubling down", his rhetoric simply betrays any sense of PM in waiting. To raise these questions so early in his tenure as Leader of the Opposition, Mulcair has raised issues of character and fitness, never mind giving his opponents easy attack lines. That we see the Conservatives and the Liberals, lead by Dion, converging on this issue, speaks to how marginalized Mulcair's view can become. Add in the barrage of consistent criticism from virtually all quarters, I'm hard pressed to see this ending well for the NDP, lest they make some dramatic course corrections.
At the heart, Mulcair has a economic argument to make, even the latest "independent" study does acknowledges at least "mild" validation of his thesis. But, Mulcair has managed to needlessly alienate. It's the way Mulcair's articulating the message that is the problem, simply no political acumen, delivered like a novice, with NO understanding of Canadian sensibilities. It doesn't matter if these Premiers are right of center, it matters that you conduct yourself like a national leader. The intellectual arguments are secondary to perception. Mulcair is handling this issue as though perferring a fight, rather than making a calm point, that deserves some consideration. When confronted with push back Mulcair reacts like a guy not quite ready for prime time.
I'm not sure where the polls will take us, Mulcair is rock solid in Quebec at the moment and I doubt this issue hurts him in his home province. That said, whatever economic traction Mulcair may get in Ontario is undercut by the now emerging "national unity" question. Unless the NDP quickly rethink this strategy, Mulcair undertakes a concerted outreach, meets with some Premiers, makes some "revisions" in future speeches, he very much risks future prospects. As well, Mulcair may, just may, be planting the seeds for a future Liberal revival. Watch for it, because if national unity and federalism become a core issue moving forward, the Liberal Party will find its voice.
My political instincts tell me Mulcair has lost control of the core economic argument, it's evolving into discussions which will corner the NDP in undesirable fashion moving forward. Let's watch if the NDP brain trust see the same forecast and modify the message. Mulcair is still a blank slate with the majority of Canadians, but should he stubbornly keep up this divisive tone, he and his party will be mortally wounded. Of that fact, I have no doubt whatsoever.