With the House of Commons returning today, Canadians can expect to see the NDP refocused, re-energized and on the attack.
The real battle begins today with Mulcair's chosen team in place. Mulcair has had time now to sort out his team, reward caucus colleagues for their support and performance during the leadership race and at the same time cushion the egos of some of those who ran against him. With new caucus critics in place, there will be a lot of NDP MPs anxious to make their mark in their new portfolios.
Mulcair will have from now until mid-June to demonstrate to Canadians that his team under his leadership is a match for the Harper Conservatives. Let us not forget the NDP are supposed to be the government-in-waiting and it will be interesting to see how Mulcair's shadow cabinet performs in a head-to-head match up with Conservative ministers.
Mulcair laid out his initial attack plan when he said "our focus is to start showing Canadians that the Conservatives, despite their branding, are lousy managers of the public purse."
It's a solid strategy that won't result in a big win today, but over time can chip away at the Conservatives perceived strength. The Conservatives can expect weeks of attacks along this line with the F-35 still fresh and on the minds of Canadians. The NDP will also have new ammunition with the costs of Bev Oda's trip to London coming to light.
It doesn't matter that the trip and her expenses followed Treasury Board guidelines; the NDP will try to convince Canadians that the expenses were extravagant and a waste of taxpayers' dollars. In politics perception is everything and Mulcair's team will have fresh ammunition with Oda expensing limousines at an average daily cost of $1000 ($2850 for three days). This won't sit well with Canadians struggling to get by in the present economy.
It is these examples that are often the most damaging to a government. It is hard for someone to imagine what $10 billion dollars looks like, but everyone out there can look at that $1,000 dollars a day for a car and relate it to their own pay cheque. These examples hurt governments.
We can expect the government to counter with their usual line that the NDP would raise taxes if they were in power, but it is a well-worn line that has been used so often it has lost its impact.
For the Liberals, it will be a real wake-up call as they will be lost in the battle. The best quips from Bob Rae will be drowned out by the fire from the NDP benches. The real battle is about to begin for the hearts and minds of Canadians and that battle is between the Mulcair NDP and the Harper Conservatives.