First week report card: Conservatives win the week
So, who won the first week? I'd have to go with the Conservatives. It certainly wasn't a perfect week for them: some overeager election staffers sent them off message and into damage control mode. However, Harper and the party dealt swiftly with pooping puffins and with e-mails about the political motivations of grieivng parents of dead Canadian soldiers. Furthermore, the party also had the most significant policy announcement of the week in the announcement of the 2001 end to Canada's mission in Afghanistan. I'd give them an A-.
In second place, I'd put the Green party. This isn't so much the result of brilliant campaign strategy, but it's being the beneficiary of some boneheaded moves by Stephen Harper and Jack Layton in opposing Elizabeth May's inclusion in the TV debate. May rode the wave of public uproar and the Greens achieved their major campaign objective in week one: she'll be at the podium. B+
In third, I'd put the NDP. I thought Jack Layton was solid, though he clearly mishandled the May issue. Had he agreed up front, she wouldn't have been the story of the campaign for a whole 24 hours. Although Stephen Harper was likely equally to blame, Layton took a lot of the heat. I'm not sure the "I'm going to be PM" line is going to work. I think I'd play up the fact that you were the party that most consistently opposed the Conservative agenda in the last Parliament. Yes, that;s; fighting for second place, but that's really what's at stake here. C+
In fourth, Stephane Dion and the Liberals. They didn't make any big mistakes, so the campaign was competent. But competent isn't going to cut it this time. For much of the week, there wasn't much in the way of policy announcements that would capture anyone's imagination. The Liberals blew their wad before the election by announcing the Green Shift. Dion has been busy trying to explain this complicated plan. Things got a bit better with the home retrofit announcement and changes to the immigration system late in the week, but they need to do more. Dion scored his biggest points when Harper seemed to suggest he was detrimental to national unity. C
In last place is the BQ. Again, no major gaffes, but the party is struggling to explain why it's still relevant, 13 years after the referendum. They're in danger of bleeding to the Conservatives over federalism and to the NDP over social policy. D