It is striking how Stephen Harper has bollixed this election campaign. In 2006, he ran a model opposition party assault, not only decrying the squalid condition of the Liberals after their long run in power, but also staying a step ahead of them by announcing nearly every day a new initiative, policy, plan. Two years later, he has run a campaign that has more in common with a visit by the Queen than a pitch from someone hoping to hang on to his job: stately and detached.
Only the Queen wouldn’t have made as many mistakes. It has been rewarding, for the first time in my lifetime, to watch arts and culture not only become a campaign issue, but become a key campaign issue, thanks to Mr. Harper’s offhand remark that “ordinary working people” can’t relate to the cultural elite when they see them swanning about at galas on TV. This raised two questions: what channels has Mr. Harper been watching that carry this sizzling programming, and did he not realize that his opponents in Quebec would use his comment to paint him as an anglo cowboy?
And then there was his more recent suggestion that the current economic crisis offers a golden opportunity to buy some cheap stock. Talk about not resonating with ordinary working people.
And so his majority government is almost certainly lost, and there’s even some possibility, depending on the deliberations of Canadians over the remainder of this Thanksgiving weekend, of a Liberal government. In a way, I’m disappointed. I will vote NDP, mostly because I’m in a riding that tends to send NDPers to parliament. When I look south at the limited political palette offered Americans, I think we should do everything we can to sustain our own vigorous multiple party system. But I wouldn’t have minded seeing the Tories get a majority government and finally reform or jettison the Senate, pursue fairer representation by population, and take us back to something more like the federalism we had before Trudeau got all centralist on our ass.
As it is, it looks like we’re in for a few more years of Harper Lite. Then, of course, a renascent Liberal party under Michael Ignatieff or Bob Rae will reassert itself, topple the Tories, and blow us all as far back towards the 1970s as they possibly can.
Oh well. At least there’ll be a lot of grants to go around.
– Frank Moher