Canada election 2015: What have we learned so far?

When Stephen Harper kicked off the election campaign on Sunday, it wasn't clear whether the parties would be moving at full campaign-overdrive speed right away. Each leader has had a handful of events, but only Harper, the Conservative leader, has unveiled any new policy. Here's what we've learned in the past week.

Slow start to 1st week of 11-week election campaign

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, from left, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Conservative Leader Stephen Harper had a slow few days leading up to the first debate of the campaign on Thursday. (Canadian Press )

When Stephen Harper kicked off the election campaign last Sunday, it wasn't clear whether the parties would be moving at full campaign-overdrive speed right away.

With the election almost three months distant, a measured approach is probably smart. So while each leader has had a handful of events, all four major party leaders holed up on Wednesday to prepare for Thursday's debate, and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair went dark for a day and a half after making his campaign kickoff speech.

Presumably, voters should learn a bit each week as the parties progress toward the Oct. 19 voting day. Will we be 11 times smarter in the end? This week may only count as a half week.

Here's a snapshot of what we've learned since last Sunday.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau likes middle class families and boxing. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Everyone loves middle-class Canadians

Mulcair and Justin Trudeau, the Liberal leader, can barely get through a talking point without referring to better-paying jobs and help for middle-class Canadians. While this has been true since both men took over their respective parties, it's going to become increasingly apparent as the number of campaign events increases.

This love of middle-class Canadians comes at least partly because most Canadians consider themselves to be middle class.

It's not yet clear whether any Canadians are paying attention though: more than one person stopped in front of the lawn-sign-carrying hordes awaiting the first election debate Thursday night to ask what was going on.

Sometimes, Mulcair doesn't take questions

The NDP leader is ahead in the polls, and telegraphed that Sunday when he launched his campaign by taking no questions following his speech, which was delivered to journalists. While he was the only federal party leader to attend the funeral of former foreign affairs minister Flora MacDonald, he didn't make another public appearance until Tuesday morning. At that appearance he took questions after brief remarks.

Mulcair and Trudeau have often criticized Harper, the Conservative leader, for evading reporters and limiting the number of questions he'll take.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair sometimes prefers farm animals to journalists. But he always loves hard-working middle-class Canadian families. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Harper knows economy is struggling

Harper allowed twice this week that the Canadian economy isn't looking so good. On Monday, when he promised to introduce a home renovation tax credit, he allowed it likely wouldn't happen for a couple of years because the government won't have enough money.

Then during the debate, he acknowledged Canada is likely in a recession. He has so far only said that Canada is projected to have growth overall for 2015-16.

Harper is a big Breaking Bad fan

Amid the debate over who wants a tax on Netflix (answer: nobody), we learned that, like most television connoisseurs, Harper is a fan of Breaking Bad. The show is an American drama featuring a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer who turns to a life of violence and crime, using his love of science to cook ultra-pure crystal meth and rake in money to secure a better financial future for his family before he dies.

The revelation may surprise many, given Harper's emphasis on law and order: he has brought in a number of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, including for drug and gun crimes. Some have been overturned by the courts.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says he loves watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. (Twitter)

Saskatchewan and New Brunswick still waiting

Trudeau spent the first day of the campaign, as scheduled, at Vancouver Pride. Then he held a rally in Calgary on Monday.

Harper's first rally was in Montreal, followed by Ajax, Ont.

Mulcair went to Montreal for a campaign event before hitting the Greater Toronto Area. The leaders mainly stuck to the region on Friday following the debate in Toronto.

Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada: expect some leader love next week, or by all means feel alienated.


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