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Saturday, June 05, 2004

Agenda vs mission 

Rex Murphy's column Leaders are so-so, so we yo-yoin today's Globe is terrific. I think he hits the nail right on the head
What gains the Tories have made from the Liberal follies and mischief is as much as they are going to make. From here, they have to manufacture new support on their own ground and on their own issues. Which is both an advantage and a threat. Mr. Harper is going to face a real testing. The public in essence will use that testing to answer the question of the election: Should this man and his party be the beneficiary of their anger and disappointment with the Liberals?
It is also the critical point in Paul Martin's campaign. His trip to Normandy for D-Day celebrations will allow for a natural hiatus from the campaign. It will give him the space to start this whole effort anew. Which he has no choice but to do.
He must drop the previous scripts, isolate himself from the campaign mechanics, the dubious artists of spin and campaign management, and speak -- to borrow a phrase -- straight from the heart. Why has he sought this job? What does he, really, want to do with it? Why is Paul Martin running? This is a message that can only come from him.
It is possible for him to earn a second look from the voters, but he has but this one chance to do so. An outburst of authenticity could burn off the smear from the sponsorship mess. It could disentangle him from the McGuinty tax-hike harpoon.
For both leaders, this is the crucial turn of the campaign.
Mr. Harper needs to state his agenda. Mr. Martin needs to state his mission.

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