As every day rolls by on the federal campaign trail, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives look more certain to cross the finish line in first. No matter the topic, no matter the announcement, does anyone actually see the Liberals picking up any speed and momentum to take on the Conservatives? I think the power of Harper’s blue vest has been underestimated. The real race is shaping up for the mantle of the true opposition.
Stephane Dion has spent so much time explaining his Green Shift plan and his almost daily calls for people who should be “fired” from the Conservative camp have not delivered the campaign mustard. He has weapons at his disposal like Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and even Ken Dryden he can use to help push the Liberal agenda but they really are no where to be seen. Simply put, Dion does not look convincing, nor sound it. His camp must be looking to the leaders debate, hoping and praying he puts in some dynamite performances.
Jack Layton has been pushing the NDP agenda as the one of “change” and “hope” for Canada. Layton must smell blood in the Liberal waters. If Dion fails, he is done as Liberal leader and that leaves Layton as the last true duelling partner against Harper. Layton has announced he would be open to a coalition with Liberals and what does Dion do?- he shoots down the idea. Layton has been attacking the Conservatives and Liberals and any inroads he can make are most likely at the Liberals expense. Layton is also fighting the Green Party effect. The new kids on the block are stealing some interest from the NDP, since the NDP traditionally are the greenest party but now there is one which is all green.
This race is about Dion and Layton. Short of a major gaffe or ugly skeleton in Harper’s vest closet coming out, a Conservative minority is a lock. The left-centre vote in Canada is being divided too much to knock off the Conservatives this time around. The NDP will never form the official opposition in Ottawa. Once Dion is shelved, only one leader will remain as a true national leader in an opposition role and that is Layton.
Can Dion stretch the gap between his Liberals and NDP? Can Dion solidify his role as an opposition leader the second time around? Should Dion be worried about Layton?