Are we now in Day Two of a 399-day federal election campaign? Our hearts say, Please, no!, but our heads tell us, Yes, better suck it up. Barring prorogation or a vote of no confidence, Canada's fixed-date rules mean the next general election will be held Oct. 19, 2015, which in turn means that we can expect the writ to drop roughly 12 months from now. Except that the writ unofficially succumbed to gravity on Monday with the return of Parliament and a speech from Prime Minister Stephen Harper that has been described as "election-style." Let's be honest: Election-style is the only style right now.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair promised over the weekend to push for a $15 minimum wage for employees in federally regulated industries. It is just the first of a number of promises the NDP will roll out over the fall. The party also launched a slogan – "Change that's ready" – a shot at the Liberals' more tentative "Getting ready to lead," and a Liberal Leader they and the Conservatives hope to paint as unready to do so. "Prime Minister just isn't an entry-level job," the Opposition leader said.
Nor does it pay $15 an hour, come to think of it. Mr. Harper has been earning his generous Prime Minister's salary for close to nine years. His speech on Monday would have been at home echoing off the side of a campaign bus. He hammered away at Conservative themes of a strong economy, balanced budgets, lower taxes, safe streets, johns and pimps trembling in fear, and foreign policy that is unambiguously ideological. He set up his government's fall session, which in turn will set up its balanced budget next spring, which in turn will be the platform for Mr. Harper's re-election.
Which in turn brings up Justin Trudeau. He has been luxuriating in an extended honeymoon since becoming Liberal Leader in 2013. Poll-wise, he is the man to beat. But he has been reluctant to mess with a success that has come easily and without making any policy commitments. His opponents rightfully chide him for his vague promises about infrastructure and education spending, and for his Obama-like call for a new hope across the land that cashes in on dissatisfaction with Mr. Harper's aging government. When will Mr. Trudeau be ready to let us know what he would do as PM?
All three leaders plan to spend most of this parliamentary session on the road, wooing voters. In Mr. Harper's case, he will also be travelling abroad and reinforcing his brand as an international player. Voters will have plenty of time to judge their options. Two days down, 397 to go.