Can the Harper Conservatives pull out of their funk?

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

This probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

After a tumultuous spring session of parliament, the federal Tories are toiling in the polls.

According to the latest Leger Marketing survey, published by Postmedia News, the Justin Trudeau Liberals have the support of 37 per cent of Canadians — up seven per cent from March — while the Conservatives are at a distant second with only 29 per cent of the popular support. The NDP and Greens are at 21 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

While we've all recently learned not to give too much credence to mid-mandate polls, it's clear that a trend is emerging: The Trudeau Liberals are rising and the Harper Conservatives are falling.

[ Related: The three worst months ever for the Harper government ]

Can the Conservatives turn this ship around, so to speak? And if so, how?

Political consultant Gerry Nicholls says that Stephen Harper and his team need to revert to its core values.

"Yes the polls are bad for the Tories, but there's no need for them to panic. To turn things around they must re-energize their base and keep the focus on the economy," he told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Polls don't reflect intensity. Trudeau's support is likely soft. If Harper can keep his core loyal and make the next election about who can best manage the economy, he will have the advantage."

It's certainly a strategy that worked for them in 2011.

[ Related: Is Stephen Harper a poor judge of character? ]

Political communications consultant Marcel Wieder, however, suggests that the Tories need to work harder to get out of their funk. He says they need a channel changer or two.

"Next week the Conservatives will be meeting in Calgary for their annual meeting. This will be an opportunity for Harper to share his successes and offer his view of the future. It is a time for Conservatives to feel good about themselves. I would not be surprised to see a cabinet shuffle to breathe some new life into his inner circle shortly thereafter," Wieder told Yahoo!.

"Also I think he needs to start playing offence instead of defence. He needs to bring bold and innovative policy initiatives that Canadians are looking for. It may be a tall order since he has little propensity to engage in nation building.

"The other thing that Harper needs to do is spend time out of the Ottawa bubble. He would do well spending time on the barbecue circuit where Canadians can see a more relaxed, less calculating politician. The more he stays in Ottawa the more he will be seen as aloof, cold and unresponsive."

At this point, Trudeau-mania shows no signs of slowing down. So, whether it's a matter of reminding, revamping or rebranding, the Conservative Party's 2015 election campaign must begin now.

(Photo courtesy of the PMO)

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