Our View: Leaders’ tacks vary greatly

We were somewhat stunned, but not particularly surprised that Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to town last weekend with little to no fanfare.

It was typical of a campaign where the PM has been seen, but not necessarily heard by the general public, except for a select few who are in step with the Conservative message.

On the other hand, NDP leader Jack Layton and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff have been more than open in their barnstorming tours as they attempt to relay their own messages to as many people as possible.

Regardless of how one views their politics, the campaign strategies of the federal party leaders reflect a lot on their local candidates, in some cases to their downfall.

Think of how many people vote based on who they believe is best to lead the country – unlike a republic such as the U.S., where they actually vote for the president, we don’t vote for our prime minister.

Then there are those who vote based on the party. Some individuals actually leave the candidate third on their list of priorities in terms of voting, and that’s a sad acknowledgement on the dedication shown by people who choose to run for public office.

Having a leader who is viewed as being in touch with the people has to be worth something. Layton appears to be using that tack to his advantage. Recent polls have hinted that the NDP may well overtake the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec and the Liberals as the No. 2 party in Ottawa.

At the end of the day, such a scenario isn’t going to change the tenants at 24 Sussex Dr.

We knew going in that with few real hot-button issues in this election, the best the big four parties could ask for is a solidification of their standing in the House of Commons.

Unfortunately for the public, the leader with the most to gain – Harper covets a majority government – is the leader doing the least to connect with voters on the ground.

Those voters seeking a major shakeup in Ottawa may be sorely disappointed.