Today's Dipper leadership debate takes place in Ottawa at 2pm EST til 4pm, and apparently will focus on the economy.
Now what, you make ask, does a Dipper have to say about the economy that isn't anything but tax rises? Well, there's nine of them there to tell you what's what. And it's going to be a bit of a clash I think.
Here's five things you need to look for as the debate goes on:
1. Peggy Nash's campaign is centered on the economy and her perceived ability to competently manage it, so this being the first debate, the major theme of these dire times, and a fairly distinguishing factor among the NDP, plays right into her hands. In order for Nash to come out of this, she needs to look on the same level (if not better than) as both Mulcair and Topp, the two perceived frontrunners.
2. The Topp-Mulcair dichotomy is bound to become diluted as nine candidates, the majority of them without a chance in hell, all get the same amount of time to talk. However, the sparks will fly between Topp and Mulcair; they need to in order for the debate to remain interesting.
3. Topp's tax-the-rich schemes are a prime target for some of the more intrepid NDP candidates to go after - I'm thinking that Mulcair and Martin Singh, the "business friendly" candidate, will attempt to make stacks out of that hay pile.
4. Paul Dewar, sitting at roughly third or fourth in most estimations, needs to pull off a strong showing here. His cities plan is something he can point to as reasonable and well thought out policy that can boost the economy in a way while fixing our crumbling infrastructure. If he gains credibility, then he'll be in the running.
5. The other five candidates - Niki Ashton, Romeo Saganash, Nathan Cullen, Martin Singh, and Robert Chisholm - don't really have any traction to gain from the first debate outside of doing well and maybe you'll get a boost. However, each of these candidates are the "minor five" (as I like to call them) for a reason - too regional, too inexperienced, too unknown - and unless they come out with compelling ideas that can appeal to voters, they're just spoilers.
It'll be interesting to see how this debate turns. Expect a lot of attacks against Harper and a lot of focus on job creation through government action. Don't expect actual "debate" or knock-out punches. And keep an eye on the "frontrunner troika" - Nash, Topp, Mulcair - and keep an eye out for someone unexpected to steal a spotlight or two. Standard debate stuff, you know.
Link to online viewing here at CPAC - or just watch it on your TV if you have cable. I may or may not post things on Twitter if something comes up, otherwise I'll follow up this post later on tonight if I get the chance.