With still plenty of time in his current term, Mr. Harper will join the group of long-time tenants and it’s even possible he will one day make the 15-year club. Opposition party members will quietly tell you that without amalgamation or a co-operation deal of some kind among progressive parties, the chances of unseating the Conservatives are small. Reducing them to a minority is well possible, they feel, but not throwing them out.
Harper, most certainly, has been blessed with good luck. But his long term prospects have thus far been guaranteed by a bitterly divided opposition. And, at the six year mark, that opposition is still bitterly divided -- even if their combined number of seats is better than the Conservatives:
Currently, the country’s political dynamic sets up splendidly for him. He can, strange as it seems, do poorly and still win. In the past year or more, he has dropped five or six points in the polls. The opposition parties, by contrast, have all had good years. The New Democrats elected a strong leader in Thomas Mulcair and maintained the new-found strength they gained in the 2011 election. Bob Rae kept the Liberals afloat and Justin Trudeau has set their hopes ablaze. The Bloc Québécois got back on its feet in 2011. The Greens showed they aren’t going away.
As long as Stephen Harper can keep the opposition parties quarreling among themselves, he wins. He used that tactic last week in dealing with the First Nations. He used it during the last three elections. The lesson should be pretty clear. Unless -- and until -- the opposition can put country ahead of party, Stephen Harper will remain in the catbird's seat.