OTTAWA — Tonight, the federal party leaders will meet in Calgary to participate in a debate on the economy sponsored by the Globe and Mail. And while they disagree on most issues, there is one thing all the can parties agree on: Canadians are desperate for a leader who knows how to say the word economy, at volume, over and over and over again.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, for example, is working hard to shore up his public image as a man who says economy more often than not. Speaking to a packed rec centre in Etobicoke, Ontario last week, he delivered what has quickly become a staple of his stump speech. “My friends, let me be clear: I’ve travelled this great country many times as Prime Minister and Canadians are unanimous – they want ECONOMY.”
But Conservative Party strategists privately worry that Harper’s “say economy loudly, but only once” approach might not be enough to break ahead in this neck-and-neck three-way election.
Said one anonymous high-level adviser, “Frankly, I think we’re wasting time with all these other words. It should just be ECONOMY ECONOMY ECONOMY, over and over again for an hour or two. I mean, look at Mulcair, listen to what he’s saying, and look at how voters are responding. We’re getting hammered right now.”
Over the last month, the NDP has released a series of TV ads designed both to play up Mulcair’s ability to say “ECONOMY” loudly and continually and to do so while smiling and staring directly at average Canadians.
“We want to show Canada a side of Tom Mulcair they haven’t seen before,” said Brad Lavigne, NDP senior campaign advisor. “He’s friendly, he’s fun, but he still knows how to shout economy.”
Not to be outdone, the Liberals have shifted their focus as well. A two-minute video went viral last Friday of party leader Justin Trudeau, on the campaign trail in Regina, shouting the word economy repeatedly as he balanced a baby on one hand. All around him, glassy-eyed onlookers cheer and clap.
Gord Perrault, who filmed the video and uploaded it to YouTube, summed up its appeal. “You know, I had my doubts about him – that he was too young, too inexperienced, that he was just coasting on his father’s reputation. But listening to him screaming ECONOMY fifty, sixty times in a row, at the top of his lungs… man, that’s leadership.”