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Three things to watch in #elxn42 this week

Aaron Wherry’s weekly look at the election issues that will likely dominate the campaign over the next few days


 

Mulcair, Harper, Trudeau. Leaders. (Chris Wattie/Reuters; Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

1. Is the Conservative campaign in chaos or poised for a comeback?

As first reported by Maclean’s last week, the Conservatives are leaning on Lynton Crosby, a semi-famous Australian political strategist, to help focus their re-election effort amid various reports of consternation in Conservative circles about a campaign that is struggling to gain traction. Published opinion polls offer conflicting accounts of precisely where the Conservatives find themselves—according to Nanos, at 31 per cent and surging on Friday, where, two days earlier, they were at 26 per cent and seemingly moribund. But what was always going to be a hard campaign to win does not seem to have gotten any easier over the last month. Is this the week the Conservatives turn things around? How might they even begin to do that? Perhaps they can somehow reassert their central concerns of economic management and budgetary balance. Perhaps they just need a week free of anyone caught peeing in a coffee mug.

2. What else might be said or done about Syrian refugees?

Just as the polls are unclear about the general state of play, it is also not perfectly obvious what has been the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on the Canadian political standings. But the Conservatives have mostly been on the defensive, and are now apparently preparing to explain what else the government will do to respond to the situation. “We are going to take some measures, as well, to expedite the process to make sure this process moves forward more quickly and more effectively than it has to date,” Harper said on Thursday. What might those steps be? CTV has suggested measures to speed up resettlement and maybe even a pledge to accept more applicants. But how will such moves be received, by both the public and those already involved in efforts to resettle refugees from the region?

Related: Our primer on Syrian refugees, one of 13 of the campaign issues

3. What about the economy?

It seems like months ago that this campaign was about a sluggish economy and how the government should respond. (Note: That was actually a week-and-a-half ago.) That will come back into focus with the second leaders’ debate of this campaign: Thursday night in Calgary, hosted by the Globe and Mail. That debate is set to deal solely and entirely with economic issues, and will likely reframe the general discussion for at least a few days. It will also be yet another test of the leaders, as they are set against each other on the public stage. Debates might not always change everything, but each debate carries the potential to do so.


 

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