In his review of Stephen Harper's first year of majority rule, John Ibbitson wrote that the prime minister had been "unbound." And the passage of the government's omnibus budget bill seemed to prove Ibbitson's point. But, as the contents of the bill were made public, something else happened. The public showed signs of discontent.
Frank Graves reported that the Conservatives' poll numbers were dropping in key areas of the country. Up to the passage of the budget, Canadians were bullish on the country's future. But now they are evenly split:
The latest numbers show opinion split down the middle: 45 per cent say that the country is headed in the right direction compared to 46 per cent who say otherwise. A majority of respondents in Quebec, Atlantic Canada and British Columbia say the country is not on the right track.
No doubt, Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor's reports of election dirty tricks have had something to do with the Conservative decline. It's interesting that Postmedia -- until now a reliable echo chamber for the Conservatives -- has not been kind to the prime minister. Even more interesting was a column a week ago by Michael denTandt -- another Postmedia stalwart. Dent Tandt concluded the column with the following observation:
In 2011, this same prime minister based an election campaign - successfully - on the notion that a coalition of "losing parties" holding a majority of seats in the House of Commons would lack the legitimacy to govern. This was, simply, a lie. In 2012 this prime minister, having once argued forcefully against the legitimacy of omnibus bills, forced one through himself, in the process changing more than 70 laws. This summer, Canadians are expected to forget all this, and more, because we live in uncertain economic times. Europe, you know. We go along, to get along.
Stephen Harper is not Maurice Duplessis. But the call to overlook abuses of democracy, for the sake of economic expediency - which is a never-ending murmur, beneath every move the Conservative government now makes - is insidious. It's not tyranny, nor should it be called that. But some days, you can see tyranny from here.
When Postmedia begins to comment on the stench emanating from Fortress Harper, you know something is in the air. And it's an ill wind.