Don Martin: The disrupters in this election could doom the front-runners' majority dreams
The two disrupters in this election share one thing in common.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet are injecting force of personality into a campaign dominated by frontrunners sleepwalking through their scripts.
Barely six months ago, Singh's leadership was doomed with his party in a polling freefall into the political wilderness.
Just 10 months ago, the BQ was a leaderless funeral wagon limping out of Ottawa toward oblivion.
Now the energized NDP is threatening to block Liberal ambitions to reclaim their majority over a smoldering orange ruin and the resurrected Bloc under Blanchet is eating into both major party hopes for government-forming gains in Quebec.
It's not hard to explain why.
There's a hunger in the electorate for leaders with a human pulse beyond the political babble; a craving for someone who appears genuine and passionate and able to connect beyond the photo-ops and TelePrompter-assisted announcements.
Singh and Blanchet delivered it in style this week.
Singh ran away with the first debate and did a strong re-run Thursday night. His lines were undoubtedly as rehearsed as anyone else, but delivered with sincere-sounding enthusiasm and pitch-perfect timing as to be memorable in a night most viewers would rather forget.
Blanchet projected a serious demeanor fleshed out with a flair for biting comments and dry wit. I mean who else could compare the never-ending promise of high speed rail to a Sasquatch, that being something often talked about but never seen?
Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer, by unfavorable contrast, project the weary aura of reciting a checklist of stale-scripted lines in a hurry, lest time run out before their best quips could be deployed.
The uncharacteristically angry Scheer comes across as someone concentrating too hard on appearing assertively furrow-browed and devoid of dimples, believing people are searching for gravitas in his face.
Meanwhile, there's little sign of the high-octane 2015 Trudeau. The Liberal leader's daily tub-thumping recital goes something like this: Blah, blah, blah, Doug Ford bad, blah, blah, Conservative climate change deniers, blah, blah, Stephen Harper rerun, blah, blah, blah.
So lacklustre leaders beware. The disrupters are coming on strong and they have the power to reshape the next Parliament in their own image.
If the Liberals and Conservatives don't shake loose their campaign robotics, a twin-barreled shot of personality from the sidelines will blow up all their focus grouped platforms and carefully-crafted teleprompter tirades leaving them hostage to a minority mandate.
That's the Last Word.