Chris Hall (CBC News):
Politicians will tell you they never look at polls. Except they do. And heading into tonight’s leaders’ debate on the economy, all three major party leaders are well aware that the top-of-mind issue for voters in this election is the very subject they’ll be debating in Calgary.
The timing couldn’t be better.
Just this week Canadians learned the federal government ran a $1.9-billion surplus in the last fiscal year. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives immediately trumpeted the good news, promoting this new bottom line as part of their campaign theme of strong economic management.
On Wednesday, more economic news. This time not so positive.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development downgraded its outlook for the Canadian economy for both this year and next, saying Canada continues to face “strong headwinds” from the falling price of key commodities like oil.
For New Democrats and Liberals, the OECD’s decision is a validation of their argument that it’s time for change in Ottawa. The lower outlook became part of their argument that this country’s economy is just sputtering along at a pace slower than the rest of the world because of the Conservative government’s over-reliance on the promise of the energy sector.