“Why Mulcair wants to kill the Liberals” (The Toronto Sun)

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at the Pride Parade in Montreal in August 2014. (Toronto Sun Files)

Lorrie Goldstein (The Toronto Sun):

As the election campaign begins, watch for the NDP’s Tom Mulcair to appeal to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal voters that he’s the only party leader who can defeat Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.

It will be a reversal of fortune for the third-place Liberals, who can no longer credibly claim they are the ‘progressive’ party with the best chance of stopping the Conservatives (…). The Liberals have always used this argument (…), a tactic lost to them now that they are in third place (…).

Indeed, Mulcair and Harper will be happy if this election turns into a contest between the NDP and Conservatives, as they both pick off supporters from the once-mighty Liberals (…). Some political observers have questioned the wisdom of the Conservatives’ ‘Justin Trudeau is just not ready’ ad, which even the Liberals now admit has been effective in driving down their support. Critics argue the Conservative ad is sending Liberal supporters to the NDP, thus backfiring on the Tories. What they’re forgetting is there are many ‘blue Liberal’ voters who, faced with a stark choice between a Conservative and NDP government, will vote Conservative. That’s why both Harper and Mulcair have an interest in driving down the Liberal vote, in anticipation of a head-to-head contest between their two parties (…).

Of course, Harper and Mulcair will also turn their guns on each other (…) but the battle between Mulcair and Trudeau to be the ‘progressive’ alternative to Harper is just as important. There’s no love lost between Liberals and New Democrats (…). (…) Jamey Heath, a top communications advisor to the late NDP leader Jack Layton (…) described the Liberals as hypocrites, mouthing left-wing platitudes during elections while arrogantly asking NDP supporters to abandon their party and vote Liberal to stop the Conservatives. Then, after the election, the Liberals return to governing from the right.

A few months ago, it looked like Trudeau and the Liberals were coasting to victory on Oct. 19. But the way things look now, this is the NDP’s best chance not just to defeat the Conservatives, but to reduce the Liberals to the rump status the NDP was mired in for decades, before finishing second in the 2011 election.

Full column here