Political Traction: Opposition fails to capitalize on McGuinty exit

Jaime Watt takes a weekly look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians on CBC's Power & Politics. This week: McGuinty's resignation, the meat recall and the U.S. presidential debates.
Jaime Watt of Navigator Ltd. looks at the stories that are getting Canadians' attention, from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's resignation to the upcoming U.S. presidential election 8:40

Jaime Watt joins Power & Politics host Evan Solomon each week to look at how issues making waves in Ottawa resonate with Canadians.

Jaime Watt. (CBC)

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, Dalton McGuinty's resignation as Ontario Premier received the most traction in Ottawa.

Canadians focused on his track record in Ontario, while Ottawa speculated about his federal leadership ambitions. McGuinty formally dismissed those rumours this week, saying on Tuesday he will not run for federal Liberal leader.

Ontario opposition parties were on the attack once McGuinty prorogued the legislature last week, after announcing his plans to step down. But the provincial Progressive Conservatives and NDP haven't garnered more attention for their own parties as a result, according to Watt.

"They were not successful in linking prorogation, the closing of the legislature, to issues and how that affected everyday Ontarians. So they're going to have to do some work for that," Watt says.

Meat recall stays on Traction radar

The meat recall landed on Political Traction's radar for a third week in a row, gaining more traction in Ottawa than Canada.

The Ottawa conversation focused on how the government handled the meat crisis, while Canadians were more concerned about a foreign firm, JBS USA, taking over management at XL Foods.

Although the opposition have repeatedly called for Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz's resignation, Watt doesn't believe the recall has created any long-term damage for the government.

"I think this dramatic development where they [XL Foods] actually sold the plant ... that actually forestalled the resignation of a politician. So the blame went on to the company and not on to the government," says Watt.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced Tuesday that the XL Foods plant will reopen immediately, under enhanced CFIA oversight. Watt predicts this will be the last week the meat recall is on the traction radar.

Finally, the U.S. presidential race had the most traction across Canada. Although Ottawa pundits declared U.S. President Barack Obama as the winner of last week's debate, Watt says Canadians thought Romney won the conversation of the day: jobs and the economy.