Political Traction: Canadians yawn at Budget 2013
Jaime Watt joins CBC News Networks' Power & Politics host Evan Solomon each week to look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians.
Monitoring the House of Commons' question period, mainstream media and the conversation on social media, Watt and his team at Navigator Ltd. determine which issues gained the most attention in official Ottawa, and then measure how much traction those issues managed to find with Canadians outside the nation's capital.
This week: Canada tuned into the federal budget in big numbers, but the Parliament Hill crowd and Canadians from coast to coast reached a clear consensus: the government's fiscal plan is dry and dull.
"Ottawa thought [the budget] was a bit of a yawn," Watt told Evan Solomon. "Canadians checked in...and they thought it was very much the same."
Watt explains that this unfavourable response is the failing of both the government and opposition.
For the opposition, their focus on the re-election campaign of former Conservative cabinet minister Peter Penashue is a major waste of time, according to Watt. It would be more effective to push back on the sticking points in the budget instead, Watt said.
During Question Period in the House of Commons, the NDP and Liberals have been focusing on the ethical implications surrounding Penashue. The former intergovernmental affairs minister resigned his seat and cabinet post earlier this month. CBC News later learned Penashue accepted 28 ineligible and illegal campaign donations during the last federal election.
The focus on Penashue has cost the opposition because they haven't clearly shown how the budget will affect Canadians' everyday lives, Watt said.
"It's a lot of lofty rhetoric with politicians talking back and forth and we really haven't found the defining point of this budget," Watt said.
As for the government, Watt explains they aren't doing any better than the opposition at making the budget relevant to Canadians. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty left for Asia days after delivering the budget. He's meeting with officials and business leaders in Hong Kong and Thailand this week. But Flaherty's absence from Ottawa is a lost opportunity for the government, Watt said.
"No one can sell budgets better than finance ministers. And no one can sell his budget better than Finance Minister Flaherty."
The federal budget got the most attention in Ottawa and across the country this week, but Watt doesn't expect that to be the case going forward.
"Other budgets we've seen in the past, they're like shooting stars... they shoot up and then they die."