With the first week of the election campaign behind us, circumstance seems to be conspiring with incompetence to thwart the provincial New Democrats' election chances. The day before the writ was dropped, on Easter Monday, three environmental groups launched an attack on the party's climate change plank. But the New Democrats failure to rapidly respond to that attack and deploy third party validators in support of their platform meant the criticisms of those groups became - if only for a day - the criticisms of the environmental movement as a whole.
Then, this past Sunday, when Liberal Vancouver-False Creek hopeful Mary McNeil demanded her opponent Ray Lam apologize for "offensive photos" posted on his Facebook page, questions were against raised about the rigor of the New Democrats' vetting process.
Mr. Lam's prompt resignation likely limited the damage those photos may have caused the party. But 2001 and 2005 Liberal campaign co-chair Patrick Kinsella's recent legal threat against the New Democrats, their leader Carole James and Nanaimo candidate Leonard Krog could further effect the credibility of the party and its message - at least in the eyes of the media.
So, with just 21 days left in the campaign, we're wondering if there's a game changer that can reverse the New Democrats' negative momentum. The party's platform won't be of assistance, since many of its planks include past promises rather than new commitments. And you'd think, if the New Democrats had any fresh dirt to throw at the Liberals, they would have done so by now.
That means the New Democrats are left with four identifiable opportunities where the tide could be turned:
* April 22, when the Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal by the legislature raid case's special prosecutor to overturn a lower court decision concerning the appearance of a special witness in the trail;
* April 23, CKNW's leaders debate;
* May 3, the televised leaders debate; and
* May 4, when the legislature raid case's pre-trail hearings are scheduled to resume.
But none of those dates are guaranteed to give the New Democrats a boost in the polls - especially when circumstance and incompetence are conspiring against them.