Monday, April 15, 2013

Yesterday's Man?

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 Chr├ętien, 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.


kirbycairo said...

This morning I saw the first attack ad against Trudeau. It is childish and attempts to mock Trudeau's youthful exuberance and sense of humor.

Your notion of an old man yelling at people is spot on. It is looking kind of sad and pathetic.

But the funniest part is that Harper has no on to replace him except people like Baird and Kenney - people with terrible public images. Imagine an election with Kenney going up against Trudeau - it would just be comical.

Finally we are really seeing the beginning of the end.

Owen Gray said...

I sincerely hope you're right, Kirby. In the end, Harper is his own worst enemy.

Anonymous said...

@kirbycairo + others

Who are the contenders for Harper's chair?

Will Stockwell Day make a comeback?

Owen Gray said...

However you look at it, Anon, the Harper Party is all about Stephen Harper.

It's hard to imagine anyone who is an adequate successor.

Anonymous said...

I think the comment was more like:

"Stephen Harper is beginning to look like an old man, standing on his front porch, yelling at Canadians to get off his lawn".

But you certainly captured the spirit, if not the exactness, of the original comment. :)

Owen Gray said...

I apologize for truncating your comment, Anon. But from the reaction it elicited, it's clear that readers thought it was strikingly appropriate.

Holly Stick said...

Time for a Dr. Who-inspired whispering campaign:

"Don't you think he looks tired?"

Owen Gray said...

An excellent suggestion, Holly. Or perhaps, as Michael Harris suggests, the slogan should be: "Back to the Fifties!"

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It is no so much that we get rid of Harper but that the Conservative Party does not carry on his policies and ways of governing ends.

I find the negative adds so disrespectful of parliament with it's multi party organization. Harper and his party should have congratulated Trudeau and his party by saying Congratulations, "I look forward to lively debates on the issues."

Is this too civil a response to expect from a servant of thte people.?

Owen Gray said...

For all his bluster, Philip, Harper is fundamentally insecure. Everyone is a potential enemy.

When paranoia is in the driver's seat, things are bound to get nasty.