Last week, Stephen Harper pulled an Australian rabbit out of his hat. Up until now, he's been a pretty successful magician. He's created diversions to distract his audience from what he's really doing. The diversions are called wedge issues. But his show has been on the road for a long time; and it's getting stale. History shows that, when the show gets stale, Canadian voters shut it down. Jeffrey Simpson writes:
What does the historical stroll reveal? That Canadians do not have formal term limits for the leaders, as do Americans, Mexicans and the French for their presidents, but somewhere in the eighth or ninth year of a prime minister’s tenure, the public says “time’s up.” Call it, for lack of a more precise phrase, the “democratic instinct.”It doesn’t much matter which party is in power. The state of the economy is not of cardinal importance. How much money a party throws around before and during a campaign doesn’t count for much. None of these, and other factors, seem as critical as the democratic instinct that it’s “time for a change.”
From Louis St. Laurent to Jean Chretien, ten years is about as long as a prime minister gets. Louis St. Laurent got eight years. John Diefenbaker got six. Mike Pearson got five. Pierre Trudeau got eleven, but he was really finished after nine. Joe Clark got nine months.
When Stephen Harper dreamed of establishing a dynasty, he was spitting into the wind:
If he wins this election with another majority, he would remain in office for more consecutive years than any postwar prime minister. Even if Mr. Harper managed for a couple of years with a minority, he would still win the longevity award. Alas, for him, the electorate is not going to give him a majority. It increasingly looks like even a Conservative minority is doubtful.Opinion polls can, and will, change. Take them for what they are worth; snapshots of a point in time. Today, the serious ones all point in the same direction: The Conservatives are at or below 30 per cent.
The trouble with spitting into the wind is that your own saliva comes back and hits you in the face.