Susan Riley wrote in the Ottawa Citizen yesterday that federal politics these days is truly baffling:
It is hard to decide what is more astonishing: Prime Minister Stephen Harper's inconsistencies and course corrections, or the fact they have done no serious damage to his standing in the polls.
For a man who claims to offer no surprises, Stephen Harper has been remarkably inconsistent:
He accused critics of wanting to "cut and run" in Afghanistan, but, after nearly a decade of futile struggle, conceded the war was unwinnable and began withdrawing Canadian forces. He was never going to downplay China's human rights abuses in the name of the "almighty dollar" - until it became useful, recently, to ardently court China as a customer for tarsands oil.
There were other surprises: Mulroney-style Senate appointments, the unsavoury Chuck Cadman affair, the creative use of G8 funding to help Tony Clement secure re-election, the inexcusable defence of an EI watchdog agency that has done no work, has no immediate work to do, yet has already cost the treasury $3.3 million, with no end in sight.
And then there was that promise to be accountable to Canadians, which certainly didn't square with the government's concerted attempt to destroy information -- as in the case of the long gun registry or the long census form -- or simply attempting to keep information under wraps -- as in the case of documents relating to the treatment of Afghan prisoners.
In the end, Riley wrote, Stephen Harper's lack of charisma has put many Canadians to sleep, while others have simply given up:
They turn their back on politics, don't bother to vote, even imagine it is fashionable to remain aloof.
They claim all politicians are the same, but they aren't. They claim it doesn't matter which party holds power, but it does.
If Occupiers had simply voted en masse in May, we wouldn't have a majority Conservative government today.
Stephen Harper is firmly ensconced in Ottawa and now lectures Canadians and Europeans on how they should run their economies -- even though the decisions which benefited Canada were made by others.
And he does so, even though a clear majority of Canadians didn't vote for him. As long as that majority remains divided, they will make it easy for Stephen Harper to succeed.