New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair dismissed on Tuesday criticism of him from the premiers of B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, saying they’re simply acting as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “messengers” in the NDP’s fight with Harper over the impact of the oil sands industry on the Canadian economy.
Mulcair said Harper, an economist, knows the NDP is correct in asserting that booming bitumen exports hurt Canadian manufacturers and cause huge job losses.
“He’s not going to try to contest that. What he’s going to try to do is send in messengers to take that argument to me. I’m not responding to any of them,” Mulcair said in an interview.To be fair, Mulcair was more reserved in subsequent comments, but this dismissive tone towards three Premiers, nothing good can come of it politically. Never mind the political orientation of the "messengers", Mulcair's Achilles heel shows here, seemingly driving wedges without considering the ramifications.
The chief problem I foresee for Mulcair, shedding this well deserved perception that he "can't work with anyone". A leader has to demonstrate certain tact and nuance, Mulcair here seems to relish making enemies, his reference was derogatory. As well, the "I'm not responding to any of them" denotes a certain dismissive arrogance. A federal leader can't just fluff off multiple premiers as though bit players in a bigger battle with Ottawa, that's a recipe for trouble, BIG trouble.
Mulcair also floats a conspiracy theory flavour, something he's done before, a trait that will translate into Canadians NEVER giving him the keys if it continues. The PM is on the phone directing provincial leaders to undermine Mulcair, even if true, basic political acumen says NEVER go there.
What started out as an economic argument- one with some merit that does deserve intellectual consideration- is quickly morphing into an unhelpful pissing match. Mulcair's personality is taking this argument in needless directions, rather than a constructive argument about regional disparity and overarching national interests, we are witnessing a bit of a "bull in a china shop" scenario.
Mulcair may not respond to "any of them", but I suspect "all of them" will respond to the messenger cracks and it won't be flattering. Again political leanings aside, there isn't much upside in going to war unnecessarily, tit for tat, a more diplomatic and careful tone a much better navigator. Instead, Mulcair has managed to alienate in short order. Mulcair's brief reign already demonstrating the concerns many in his own ranks expressed were justified.
So far, not so good....