The party leaders have been sparring about the new Statistics Canada data showing the country was in a recession for the first 6 months of the year, and political analyst Alan Warnke – a retired VIU prof – says the economy will likely dominate the campaign through Labour Day.

Warnke also says that even with his opponents hammering him about the negative numbers, Conservative leader Stephen Harper is happy to focus on the economy.

“No matter which way it goes he can certainly spin it,” Warnke says. “If it’s good news ‘look at what the government’s done for you’ and if it’s bad news, ‘well, do you want to trust the other guys?’ ”

Warnke says all the talk about the economy is also starting to highlight some differences between the NDP and Liberals which could see more undecided voters make up their minds. “The Liberals (say they) will engage, for 3 years, in deficit spending, which is probably realistic in the final analysis,” he says. “But, gee, you don’t say that during a campaign, so he’s (Trudeau’s) vulnerable on that front now. Tom Mulcair has made it very clear, on the other hand, that they (the NDP) intends to break that cycle.”

Warnke says for May and the Greens, the major national tour she kicked off earlier this week in Halifax is going to play a big role in how well they do in October.

“The Greens critically, have to at this stage, do whatever they can to create a perception that ‘we’re growing, and growing, and growing,” he says. “That’s Elizabeth May’s attack for the next two weeks. She’s got to really make some impressive inroads now.”

Warnke says many people, both voters and party outsiders, are looking at Labour Day as the starting point for the most intense campaigning.