Over the weekend, Tom Mulcair invoked the old lament of the social democrat: Liberal, Tory, same old story. They may campaign as opposites, the saying goes, but they govern as twins. Reframed in the context of today’s election in Quebec: Liberal, Tory, neither leader has a vote. Stephen Harper? Nope. Justin Trudeau? Nope. Mulcair, for his part, maintains a primary residence in Jacques-Cartier, a riding on Montreal’s West Island, and already voted for incumbent Liberal MNA Geoffrey Kelley. He wants the rest of Canada to know that they can only trust him to do his part and vote for Canada.
The weekend audience was the NDP’s federal council, but Mulcair’s message inevitably found a broader audience.
The dastardly, uncommitted Liberal leader, he said, only lives in Ottawa. Trudeau’s people politely replied that the Liberal leader doesn’t have the benefit of a taxpayer-funded residence—Mulcair lives in Rockcliffe Park’s Stornoway—and Trudeau chose Ottawa to “be closer to his family.” That defence implies a measure of frugality, a hint that two residences is one too many for the Liberal leader and his growing clan.
Mulcair’s presumed rejoinder, hidden in plain sight in the same weekend speech: That sounds like a middle-class problem, but Trudeau doesn’t get the middle class. He’s not of the middle class, so how could he understand its problems? The heartless and forlorn Harper, Mulcair might say, can’t be trusted to protect kitchen tables anywhere, including those of modest income. The NDP’s conclusion: Mulcair, and only Mulcair, he who is both of and for the middle class, deserves our trust.
New Democrats have made a living on the same-old-story pitch for decades. They’ve formed government zero times. But this time…
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