Some pundits claimed the 2011 election was a political earthquake. John Ibbitson and Darrell Bricker asserted that it was a Big Shift. Peter C. Newman claimed that it marked the death of the Liberal Party. Andrew Cohen isn't so sure. Canada may, he writes, be reverting to its old three party system -- with the NDP as the third party:
Looking at polls, you could think we have returned to the way things were in Canada before we elected a multi-party Parliament in 1993, when the Reform Party and the Bloc Québécois erupted as regional powers. Now we have become essentially a three-party country again (the Greens and BQ notwithstanding.)
While they may shift positions with each other, the story is about the Liberals and Conservatives. What has not changed much in recent months is the growing marginalization of the New Democrats.
The Dippers will not be happy with that conclusion. But even more controversial is Cohen's assertion that Canadian politics is more about personality than policy:
Today, we are governed by the politics of personality. Experience matters less than character. The Liberals chose smart but weak leaders in 2008 and 2011. Trudeau may not have the same intellect as his predecessors, but he has a winning temperament. He is a master of retail politics who has yet to put a foot wrong.
The problem for the New Democrats is that however substantial Mulcair, however prosecutorial in Parliament, Trudeau is winning the personality contest. This is putting his party back in business, and in the public consciousness.
There is a long time between now and the next election. But, if Cohen is right -- if we care more about personalities than we do about policy -- we may still be in a quagmire after the 2015 election -- even if there has been no real seismic shift.
We have to make a quick trip to Montreal, so I will not post tomorrow. But I hope to be back on Tuesday, or Wednesday at the latest.