Suddenly -- with the ascension of Justin Trudeau -- everyone is talking about Stephen Harper's future. Michael Harris writes:
If he were a week-old loaf of bread, or a dubious meatball at the back of the fridge, it would be time to throw him out.
But all political leaders wear out their welcomes. The longer you are in power, the higher the pile of dirty laundry gets.
And Tim Harper writes in the Toronto Star:
Should Harper decide to seek another mandate from Canadians in an election that will happen no later than October, 2015 — the Prime Minister has already mused about holding it earlier — he will be trying to break through a wall that many before him have hit — or saw coming too late.
Jean Chrétien, who fired the Liberal audience Sunday with an old-time partisan speech, served 10 years but had to promise to hand off power during the 2000 campaign in order to secure his third majority.
Brian Mulroney, even with two majorities, lasted just short of nine years.
At the provincial level, the same best-before date appears to work. Dalton McGuinty announced he was stepping down almost nine years to the date he was sworn in as Ontario premier. In Quebec, Jean Charest was defeated after nine years in office.
Should Harper decide to run again, he will have passed Louis St. Laurent, Robert Borden and Mulroney by the time the campaign starts and would already have become the sixth-longest serving prime minister in Canadian history before seeking another four years.
Suddenly, Stephen Harper is beginning to look like yesterday's man. At this point, it's a sure bet that Harper doesn't see himself that way. His whole life has been devoted to the acquisition of power. And he loves to exercise it too much to give it up easily.
But, in the end, it's not about how Stephen Harper sees himself. It's about how Canadians see him. If they begin to think of him as -- to repeat a recent comment at this space -- "an old man yelling at people to get off his lawn" -- then, indeed, Stephen Harper's days are numbered.