We thought Hail Mary passes were John McCain's department. But here's Stephen Harper with a last-minute request that the format for the leaders debates tonight and tomorrow be rejigged to provide a full hour on the economy.
With all the turbulence on Wall Street, the Tories explain, Canadians need reassurance. Funny, that's not quite how the Tories saw it when Jack Layton called for an all-party economic summit premised on the same concern about U.S. market chaos migrating to Canada.
For viewers, an hour on the economy is better than the 12 minutes now scheduled for the topic. But for Harper, I dunno.
The Tories believe the economy to be their high card. But the economy has only weakened since Harper took power in January 2006. That's not his fault; we're in a global recession over which no one has control.
But try explaining that to the 200,000 Ontario manufacturing workers who've lost their jobs in the past two years. Or workers in the devastated forestry sector. Even
Western Arabia Alberta has seen some of the glow come off its economy as plunging crude prices have postponed new oil-sands projects.
Bad enough for Harper that it's four against one, and that his gambit would enable his adversaries to cavil about him and showcase their own economic agendas at greater length. It would be different if the Tories had an innovative agenda of their own. But they've chosen instead to fight this election by knocking down the ideas of their rivals.
So if I was on the defensive, as incumbents like Harper tend to be, I'd want to stick with 12 minutes each for a cornucopia of topics. Let the other yakkers get their two cents in. And walk away relatively unscathed for lack of a sustained attack on any one topic.
But what do I know? I was cut from the short list of offensive coordinators at the West End Euchre Guild.