Driving the rural roads of southwestern Ontario recently, where election signs a-plenty decorated the roadways, I found myself reminded of an imagined scenario I’d been pondering ever since Tom Mulcair began to emerge as a very credible candidate for prime minister: how would I, were I an NDP candidate, present my case at the door of Mr. and Mrs. Ordinary Canadian?
Out here in the middle of farmland Ontario, you can’t get any more Ordinary Canadian. Away from the aggression and the pandering of interest groups and the ebb and flow of movements that allow urbanites the latitude to think by collective, here you find the engine room of the country: the nuts and bolts and the exactness of practical knowledge under the expert care of conscientious people who provide the necessities to those cozy parlors where elite minds exchange platitudes while outthinking themselves and us.
Years spent in flighty arts circles and as a political pundit in a metropolitan setting, I know how to dance to that tune. (Urban left-wingers, while annoyingly Pharisaic, do know how to step in style.) But out here, where the spin doesn’t cut it and even the best spinmeister can’t cut a decent rug, the campaigner would be wise to consider Mulcair’s ascent to the top of the polls. He was a player early and he is solidly there now, more than halfway to the finish line in this race to trump incumbent Conservative Stephen Harper in the Oct. 19 federal election. And it is that he is resonating with rural and urban voters alike without a groundswell of left-wing sentiment to fill his sails that is the important observation. Continue reading