The year end interview with CTV's Bob Fife is off. That's because there's nothing Stephen Harper wants to talk about. It's been that kind of year. It's been the kind of year that Eric Grenier believes may well have sunk the good ship Harper:
The polls have gone from bad to worse for Harper, as his government plumbs the depths of its time in power. Never before has support for the Conservatives dropped so low for so long since they defeated Paul Martin in the 2006 election.
Challenges by Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, who both led Liberals into first place in the polls for a few months at a time, were easily swept aside in the past. However, Conservatives have been unable to put a dent into the lead Justin Trudeau has built and maintained. And this in a world where New Democrats routinely poll in the mid-20s.
The Senate scandal is undoubtedly the main source of the problems hobbling the prime minister, but it is not the only one. Conservatives have tried very hard to cultivate an image as serious and responsible fiscal managers, but another image is being created as the years in power start to drag on.
In fact, the image the Conservatives project is the very image of the government they replaced:
That image is one of entitlement, something that contributed to Liberal defeats in the past and the hollowing-out of that party culminating in the 2011 election.
Issues related to election finances led to the resignation and byelection defeat of Peter Penashue earlier this year and the pending legal case facing Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro. Millions of dollars have been spent on advertising touting the government's achievements. An apparent double-standard related to the hue and cry over Trudeau's infrequent pot-smoking and the relative silence over Rob Ford's crack-smoking (etc.) has instilled the perception that a different set of rules applies to Conservatives.
The Senate scandal played right into this building narrative. The refusal of the government to admit any error and to shift the blame entirely on to Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy alone has done lasting damage to the Tory brand and particularly that of the prime minister.
Like Lady Macbeth, Stephen Harper has found that it's impossible to wash the blood from his hands. And, like her husband, he battles on -- apparently believing that no man of woman born can harm him.
But Birnam Wood is beginning to move to Dunsinane.