THE BLOG

Targeting Mulcair?

05/18/2014 10:36 EDT | Updated 07/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Last week the Conservatives had great fun targeting NDP leader Thomas Mulcair for the way his party used House of Commons dollars to pay staff in a regional Montreal office. Outside of the joy politicians and their staff get out of beating up on another party's leader -- what was the point?

Was the purpose to drag Mulcair down into the mud of parliamentary nastiness? They probably accomplished a bit of that as the Conservatives were the ones who chose to vote to bring Mulcair to committee so they could have the opportunity to rattle his cage. They did manage to make Mulcair look like every other Prime Minister I have seen since the 1980s. Mulcair's ducking and weaving when answering questions was a great reminder of our everyday Question Period format and the nasty political battles that take place within the Chamber. The Conservatives didn't have to enhance their reputation on that front but they did take Mulcair down a notch.

Was the point to make Mulcair look like many other politicians with dirty baggage? They might have accomplished a bit on that point and I am sure Justin Trudeau thanked them for their efforts. While his side got in their own attack points during the meeting, it was worthwhile for them as the Liberals benefit from any tearing down of Mulcair.

Was the Conservative strategy to get even for Mulcair's grilling of the Prime Minister in Question Period over the senate scandal? Probably.

So at a time when the two opposition leaders (Mulcair and Trudeau) are personally looking good in the polls the Conservatives chose to take on the one who is best able to draw off support from Justin Trudeau and the Liberals. That is certainly an interesting strategy. If you are a swing NDP/Liberal voter and Mulcair no longer looks as good in your eyes where to you put your vote in order to stop Harper and the Conservatives? Probably with the new guy on the block whose spin is that he is offering a new way of doing politics.

I am sure Conservative MPs in ridings where their win was by a small margin over their Liberal opponents appreciated the helping hand their own party gave the Liberals and Trudeau.

Yes, it is an interesting strategy -- short-term gain for long term pain. Just who thought this one through?