Canada election 2015: What we learned this week
Boy Scouts, Avengers and journalist tax-cheats: Week three of the federal election
Three (long) weeks into the 42nd general election, we've covered everything from which Avenger is the best to whether journalists cheat on their taxes.
This leaves eight weeks to go … which is still longer than the 37-day campaign that's been the custom in modern times. If you're tired of this, just think of the campaign volunteers taking unpaid leave from their jobs and living off pizza and subs while canvassing in 35 C heat.
Marathons are hard
Runners like Nigel Wright, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's former chief of staff, know there's usually a point in an endurance race where they start to question why they signed up for it. Running long distances is hard and turns into a mental game.
The Conservatives seem to be discovering that this week as they weather repeated questions about Harper's current chief of staff, Ray Novak, and what Novak and Harper knew of Wright's plan to cover the $90,172.24 in questionable expenses racked up by Senator Mike Duffy.
Harper called the election early — on Aug. 2 when he could have waited until early September — because that timing fit into the Conservatives' strategy. They're now discovering how that is working. Will Canadians forget about the testimony in the Duffy trial once they're back from the cottage and the kids are in school? We'll know more on Oct. 19.
The premiers aren't going away
The campaign's first week saw Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne trade barbs with the Conservative leader, while he in turn dragged Alberta Premier Rachel Notley into the federal election.
By the end of the second week, Harper even had some sharp words for Brad Wall, who is normally an ally, when he told the Saskatchewan premier to worry less about the country's equalization formula and more about whether the NDP will take government (presumably on the federal side).
Now into the third week, we're hearing from more premiers. On Monday, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard released a list of requests for whichever party leader becomes prime minister following this fall's vote.
On Thursday, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair met privately with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger. The NDP premier didn't attend Mulcair's Winnipeg rally, leading CBC News to ask whether Mulcair was concerned about how unpopular Selinger is. Selinger's approval ratings are in the low-to-mid-20s and his leadership was challenged by his own MLAs earlier this year.
Trudeau the comic book geek
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau showed this week that he's just not ready … to pick his favourite Avenger. Asked to choose a comic book hero at a news conference, the man widely acknowledged to have the best hair in this year's election race said he's such a geek that he shouldn't be answering the question.
"You know, that's a difficult one," Trudeau said in Sudbury, Ont. on Tuesday. "I like the core integrity of Captain America. I like the ingenuity of Tony Stark," Trudeau said, before finally making a reluctant choice.
"But ultimately, yeah, ultimately I think I might have to go with Hulk. Just to mix it up a bit, because he wears his passions on the outside and he is someone who is — I don't know — he's green. We need a little more green."
The Hulk might be a more obvious choice for NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who has tried to shake the Angry Tom moniker in part by embracing it and dressing for Halloween as an Angry Bird.
Of course, anger also had its moment when a man later identified by the Toronto Star as Earl Cowan took out some frustration on three journalists at a Harper event over coverage of the Duffy trial.
Cowan told the CBC's Hannah Thibedeau, CTV's Laurie Graham and Kristy Kirkup of The Canadian Press that they were "lying pieces of shit" who cheat on their taxes.
Mulcair's Thatcher moment
A surprise this week from the leader of Canada's left-leaning party: In 2001, Mulcair praised the policies of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whom the labour movement detested for her hard line against unions.
As a member of the National Assembly in Quebec in 2001, Mulcair credited the success of England's economy under Thatcher's Conservative Party to the "winds of liberty and liberalism" that "swept across the markets in England." Mulcair was a Liberal member at the time.
The NDP recently celebrated the news that one of Quebec's largest and sovereigntist-leaning labour federations dropped its long-standing endorsement of the federal Bloc Québécois, with some of its members shifting their support to the NDP.
Former Conservative foreign affairs minister John Baird loved Thatcher so much that he named his cat after her. One wonders whether Mulcair would go that far.
Elizabeth May recycles MPs too
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May scored another sitting MP for her caucus, the second time she's persuaded a member to join her just before an election.
On Sunday, New Democrat José Nunez-Melo switched to the Green Party, joining another former New Democrat, Bruce Hyer, in May's parliamentary caucus. Of course, Parliament isn't sitting now, so Nunez-Melo will have to win his Vimy seat in the election before sitting with the caucus in the House.
Nunez-Melo lost his nomination race under the NDP banner. Hyer left the caucus over his support for eliminating the long-gun registry.
May's first recruit, even before she had her own seat, was former Liberal MP Blair Wilson in 2008. Wilson quit the Liberals over campaign spending irregularities, but Elections Canada later found no evidence of wrongdoing. However, he never sat in the House as a Green MP: Parliament was dissolved the week after he joined the Greens, and he lost the subsequent election.