Foreign affairs, economy battle for election headlines· September 14, 2015
The European refugee crisis continues to evolve and implicate the campaign trail. This weekend’s political shows were dominated by foreign affairs. CTV’s Question Period featured interviews with Defence Minister Jason Kenney and NDP leader Tom Mulcair, both heavily focussed on Canada’s role in resettling refugees. European Union leaders meet in Austria today, and any tightening on their borders will place additional pressure on Canada. Also ratcheting up pressure is Rick Hillier, former chief of the defence staff, who called for the government to bring in at least 50,000 Syrian refugees over the next three months.
Harper had more questions about the crisis at a stop in Stittsville on Sunday where the Toronto Star reports the PM “looked a tad weary”, while other reporters suggest a refreshed Harper is ready for the second half of the campaign. Notwithstanding the Hill Times article released this morning, the CPC campaign team seems to have reduced the leaks and are looking to focus their message on the economy as opposed to leadership. Likely a smart move as former top PMO staffer Bruce Carson’s influence peddling trial starts today.
The economy will battle for a place in the news today as this morning’s release of Finance Canada’s Annual Financial Report will include annual data on federal, provincial-territorial and local government spending and revenue performance – including the all-important budgetary balance. A surplus is likely, which will please the CPC ahead of Thursday’s Globe and Mail leaders’ debate. Expect full platform costings from the NDP prior to the debate, likely Thursday morning.
Liberals are deploying a line of attack they tried in the last debate by accusing the NDP of being bad for national unity. This weekend they used former PM Jean Chretien to level the charge in Hamilton, and not Quebec where this line makes little sense at the moment. LPC strategists are convinced this rhetoric will work. We’re watching closely to see if it moves numbers.