Friday, May 18, 2012

Redford on Mulcair

A popular, recently re-elected Redford speaks in a manner that is non-partisan, clear and likable on the dust-up that has escalated this week over Mulcair's "Dutch Disease" comments. Contrast it with Mulcair's posture yesterday and on a level of visuals alone, it's not difficult to see how this week has gone.

And that's the thing. This has become less about the substance of the argument than the politics of it. Most reasonable people support a price on carbon, yes. But it's a sizable political battle that national leaders who want to realize it have to go about carefully and smartly. Stephane Dion was probably right this week when he said that Mulcair may have set that cause back. Now Mulcair's got bridges to mend in the west.

When Redford expresses surprise that Mulcair would dismiss her as a premier, as he did with the "Harper's messengers" remark, and that "he simply didn't think it was appropriate to have a conversation with us about resources that we have jurisdiction over," Mulcair seems aloof, stubborn. He's insistent that his argument is in Ottawa with Stephen Harper over the Fisheries Act and the Migratory Birds Act, as if that's a good talking point to the cameras.

The fact that he hasn't been to the oilsands adds to the picture of the Ottawa-Quebec leader who is out of touch with the west. Redford's polite but firm statement is ouch-worthy: "Once he's actually seen the oilsands, once he's actually been briefed, then I'm prepared to try to have a constructive conversation with him," she said. "So we'll see how it goes, but I think he's got some work to do first."

Maybe the NDP will be fortunate in continued support in the polls as the default opposition choice to the Harper Conservatives. It may be that opposition to the Harper government has finally ripened to a broader swath of the electorate. The government seems tired, stepping in controversies now on a semi-regular basis. Or, maybe we got a few glimpses this week of how things could turn. As a result of a leader who does indeed have some flaws that will out. To be continued, that's for sure.