A Leger Marketing poll was conducted between April 2nd and 4th, and showed the NDP on top of the pack, with 33%, leading the Conservatives by 1%. The Liberals were far behind at 19%, the same level of support given in May 2011. Leger’s information confirms another poll done earlier in the week by Harris-Decema with nearly identical numbers.
With the next general election coming three years away, these results certainly should not fill Conservatives or Liberals with immanent fear. That said I think this poll provides two implicit pieces of information:
- Ordinary Canadians can see the NDP as a possible Federal Government option for the first time, well, ever
- Bob Rae is running out of time to instill confidence in Liberal members and supporters that he is capable of transcending these poor poll numbers
I believe Mr. Rae has the Liberal leadership locked up. Even though Dominic Leblanc is assumed by many to be the strongest (not to mention the most likely) challenger to a Bob Rae acclimation, the decision to move to a one-member-one-vote, has crowned the lone gentleman with an overwhelming amount of daily media attention (and thus unparalleled name recognition) the inevitable winner.
Only two people could pose a reasonable threat to Mr. Rae’s permanent leadership aspirations. First, Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty, who would risk Ontario’s provincial political stability if he were to run, and second, MP Justin Trudeau who has not only publicly rejected notions of running for leadership, but is likely going to wait to run for leadership until his chances of becoming Prime Minister are assured.
If the odds play out and Bob Rae becomes the next Liberal Leader he will be competing against two men void of charisma and character in Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair. Bob Rae a personality in his own right is not from Quebec, like the NDP leader, nor is he Prime Minister, like the Liberal Leader: two distinct disadvantages. Additionally, I’m not sure he shares the political shrewdness the other leaders share, nor the willingness to push the envelope when it comes to campaigning.
He faces a steep uphill climb from the 19% he currently stands at, and fights on both flanks. The Liberal Party cannot afford to wait until the “honeymoon period” for Mr. Mulcair is over, since some leaders – Justin Trudeau’s father for example – never see their honeymoon period expire. In my opinion, if you will not cooperate with progressive forces, you must force the NDP to the left, by outflanking them on progressive issues like recreational drugs, while forcing the Conservatives right by appealing to Canadians’ anger on the mismanagement of taxpayer funds.
Bob Rae needs to be more fiscally responsible than the Conservatives, while demonstrating that the Liberals have better progressive policies than the New Democrats. With both parties sprinting to the center, Bob Rae must stretch around them, making Canadians consider embracing a government that includes the best parts of both the political left and right. It will take smart policies and strong leadership, but Mr. Rae, might just be able to pull it off.